Spring 2012, I had less than no money to spend on clothes. When I can’t have, I obsess over wants. I make lists itemizing what I will buy—garments, usually, but also tattoos and hair dos, things I imagine will make my person complete. Having been through enough phases of prosperity and scarcity (thank you, New York), I now recognize these lists as a psychological twitch of the latter.
Define: “superficial scarcity”: an insatiable desire for needless consumables inspired by personal financial depression.
What I wanted most in Spring 2012 was this Acne t-shirt. It wasn’t particularly expensive, but it was beyond my budget. A white jersey tee, quarter sleeves, boat neck, boxy cut, with five super sans-serif letters across the bust: G-I-R-L-S. I listed it as “must have: GIRLS.”
Cruising through the current Queer History of Fashion exhibit at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, a collection composed mostly of clothes made for women by men who have sex with men, I started thinking about lesbian style. The most basic and obvious gay dress of the 20th century involved adopting the codes of the opposite gender. Liberace gets gaudy. Gaultier sports skirts. Because high fashion is feminine, any man who participates outlandishly in the field adopts an invert status. Whereas, historically, it’s when women don’t participate in fashion, that they look queer. Traditional dykey style is pretty uniform because men’s dress is.
Post-Stonewall, post-DOMA, post-Gaga, though, gender bending is becoming more fluid. We respect that not all dudes who dig cock like mesh by default. Some lesbians love Lanvin, etc. Just as one’s biological sex does not equal one’s gender performance does not equal one’s orientation, fashion predilections don’t necessarily correlate with bedroom practice. Still, we code. We code every time we get dressed.
Moving through Queer at FIT moved me to decode my own dress. There might as well have been a mirror in there. What was I thinking when I slipped into these oversized black Acne shorts and Frankensteinian Birkendoc sandals this morning? When I rolled up the sleeves of my white V tee, slicked back my hair, put on eyeliner, jewelry, my pack of Marlboros purse?
Fashion is language, but it’s a faulted one; its signs aren’t universally legible. What I think I’m expressing may not be what you receive. Thus the recurring question: does Miley Cyrus know how gay her look is?
I can’t say how my style is read but I know what I’m going for. As I do in my bed, these days, I aim to be like my best gay boyfriends in my closet. They’re so pretty! Like young Leos and baby Ed Furlongs. My twinkspirations, in term, borrow elements from femme fashion (Andrew always jokes he looks like “a big lesbian”). They’re mixing in fey, I’m looking like Le Male. ~Fluid~ post-Millennials, we dress like what-ever.
Catching up with old friends after my move from Montreal to New York in March 2012, I’d often get asked, “Have you slept with a woman yet?” My desire for sometimes-ladies was no secret, but it was also no secret that I’d never tried for it in my hometown. My style, then, was what I’d call aspirationally lesbian. That’s a psychological term. I was earnestly trying to broadcast my interest through what I was wearing.
It’s easier to dress a part than play it. In some half-conscious way, I was convinced in Spring 2012 that if I wore the “must have” GIRLS shirt, Kristen Stewart lookalikes would start making out with me.
Just as when I’m broke, I want to buy, when I feel emotional and physical lacks, I’m prompted to consume, to fill the void inside. Sometimes that’s with food, sometimes that’s with party; film, books, clothes. Consuming is easy, that’s why we go there, but nothing we take in will ever fully satisfy. For my birthday this year (virginal Virgo!), I couldn’t afford to buy myself a gift, so I gave myself the dare of trying to bed this hot French actor; it was the best present that money couldn’t buy. I guess the lessons of this fabled Forever 69 are that actions speak louder than clothes and that the best things in life are free. Although that still doesn’t answer the most important question:
⚢Is Miley trying to sleep with me?⚢
Forever 69 is a bi-weekly, bi-curious column about fashion and sex. During her last encounter, Fiona bitched about the agony and ecstasy of fashion week.