You’ve probably already read on Autostraddle, the Huffington Post, NY Mag, Refinery 29, SheWired, and Queerty critiques of Style.com’s artilce “The Conversation” in which the author, Amanda Singer, calls “Lesbian Chic” a hot new trend. “The Conversation” addresses all of the pressing questions in fall 2012 style: “Is there life after J. Crew?” “Is the portfolio bag the least practical accessory ever?” “Is lesbian chic here to stay?”
OH NO SHE DIDN’T! Oh, oh yes she did. But, before your heads explode (or re-explode if this isn’t the first time you’re hearing of this), let’s explore whether lesbian-chic is even a “style.”
I mean, without a doubt, lesbians have been considered the antithesis of stylish; just take a look at all of the “Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians” features on websites like Cracked and GQ, not to mention that lesbian attire has been the butt of jokes from Joan Rivers to Saturday Night Live.
But, in Diva magazine article “Face of Fashion: She’s Got the Look,” Stephanie Theobald claims that there is such a thing as lesbian style and that designers are imitating it, especially with respect to blurring gender boundaries. In fact, Theobald goes further stating,”looking like a lesbian is more about intangibles such as posture and attitude than it is about clothes.”
Now, of course it is insulting and reductive to say that lesbianism is a trend or style – a lifestyle choice rather than a sexual orientation. It is also inappropriate to pigeonhole and stereotype people based on the way they identify. As a femme African-American woman, I certainly know the pitfalls of “regulatory blackness” and “regulatory queerness;” I have been accused of not being “black enough” or “queer enough” based on the way that I speak and dress. But, we cannot deny that, throughout history, certain minority groups have significantly influenced mainstream culture through fashion, music, art, etc. 1970s African American style is just one of many examples.
So, can we then say that “lesbian-chic” is a style without sounding completely homophobic? If so, what constitutes “lesbian-chic?” Is there a way to honor lesbian style without fetishizing it?
The major problem with Singer’s incompetent analysis of “lesbian-chic” as a fall 2012 trend is that she reveals that she is completely ignorant about both lesbianism AND fashion. Singer states:
Just last week, Models.com posted photos on its homepage of the nuptials of model Harmony Boucher and her bride, Nicole. What will this high-vis lady love mean for fashion? Socially, perhaps it means that in an industry stuffed with attractive young women, a few more of them may start dating each other. (Seriously: Trying to catch a straight man in fashion is like trying to catch a rainbow.)
Really? Women will turn to other women because there is a lack of straight men? Oh, that’s why women go gay. Poor things.
She goes on to write:
More importantly, it will have ramifications for style. “I think when you see girls running around in Air Jordans and baseball caps, then yeah, something’s moved,” says Mel Ottenberg, the fashion editor of Purple and a stylist for Rihanna. “I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of that look as ‘lesbian,’ necessarily, but I can say that in the past year, Rih’s wearing combat boots in situations where before, nothing but four-inch-heel stiletto booties would do.”
Yes, the tired old stereotype that lesbians only wear sneakers and baseball caps. Pay no mind to these lesbians:
And, as far as Rihanna is concerned, this is not the first time that combat boots have been popular in mainstream fashion. Remember 90s grunge?
In my opinion, Rihanna dresses like a hipster with a touch of hip-hop. Hipster chic has gone mainstream and it is all about borrowing from previous decades; feminine and masculine hip-hop artists have pretty much always rocked the whole Jordans+baseball cap look. In light of this, it is a bit of a stretch to think that RiRi’s stylists are primarily aiming for “lesbian chic.”
I guess ignorance is the new black. I just saw Singer wearing a healthy dose of it.