Welcome back to Style Dossier, Gabrielle Royal’s column that profiles stylish queers across the country. This edition, Gabrielle is featuring Rachel Rodriquez, a Bay Area based photographer.
Bio: Rachael is a fashion and portrait photographer in the Bay Area where she lives with her wife and three dogs. After 10 years as a successful corporate graphic designer and art director, she traded in her life in a cubicle to pursue her passion for photography and men’s fashion. When Rachael’s not on location shooting, you can find her practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, hitting the gym, painting or just hanging with her dogs. Rachael’s goal in life is to look back and have no regrets. Still a work in progress.
Outfit details: Shirt, H&M; Tie, Kohl’s (Marc Anthony); Vest, Mars Mercantile (used vintage clothing shop in Berkeley); Pants, H&M; Belt: Kohl’s; Shoes, Converse.
Gabrielle: What influences your fashion and how is your sense of style shaped by your identity?
Rachel: I’m totally inspired by men’s fashion. I follow the trends and will incorporate styles that I’m moved by. Also, as a photographer, designer and artist, my favorite aesthetics are modern, clean, and minimalistic in nature. I lean toward simple combinations: solids instead of patterns and mostly neutral colors. Every once in a while, you’ll find me in a bright color or interesting pattern when I want to shake things up. I’ve always struggled with gender identity. It’s not as cut and dry as most people would have you think. So that has certainly played a role in my style. My identity is rooted fairly deeply in what I wear. It’s how I express myself, but more importantly it’s how I help connect who I feel I am on the inside with who I am on the outside.
Gabrielle: How do you think queer fashion has evolved with the help of social media?
Rachel: It seems like queer fashion has kind of blown up in recent months and social media has certainly played a role in that. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have allowed people to show and share queer style in mainstream settings and reach much larger audiences than they did previously. It’s allowed people who may have never connected to connect over something they have in common. Social media is helping queer fashion get a lot more visibility, recognition and acceptance.
Outfit details: Shirt, H&M; Jeans, H&M; Shades, Liz Claiborne.
Gabrielle: Tell our readership something interesting or unique about your sense of style.
Rachel: I’d have to say that I like to play with gender and bend the rules. I am definitely on the masculine end of the spectrum, but I have fun mixing it up by blending both masculine and feminine components in my looks. Men’s shirts, vests and ties, with skinny pants, things like that. This is partially out of necessity because of my size and partially style choice, but I make it work.
Gabrielle: What is the importance of queer visibility in this current moment and how do you think style is influenced by it?
Rachel: Queer visibility is hugely important because it helps get us closer to equality. The more exposure our community gets, the more we will be seen as what we are…people. Complex, emotional, human beings. Plain and simple. And fashion is a great vessel for increasing visibility. People from all walks of life are interested in fashion. It allows us to express ourselves in a way that is relatable to others, but unique to us.
Gabrielle: Why do you think blogs or other forms of media are important platforms to generate discussion about our fashion community?
Rachel: I want my followers to see that fashion is a universal language of expression. I want to inspire people to just be who they are, wear what they like, what makes them feel good and forget about the “rules” placed on us by society. This is something I’ve struggled with my whole life and still do. So, if I can help even just one person feel like, “Hey I’m going to wear this because I feel great in it and I don’t care what anyone thinks” then that is a beautiful thing.
Outfit details: Shirt, H&M; Cargo Shorts, Kohl’s (Union Bay); Flip Flops, Old Navy.
Gabrielle: What is your biggest challenge when shopping?
Rachel: My biggest challenge is definitely my size. I’m 5’2”, 110lbs with an athletic build and finding men’s clothes or shoes that fit me the way I want is a ridiculous feat! I end up getting creative and having to alter my apparel to fit just right. I tend to have very limited options when shopping, so my go to is H&M or I buy online.
Gabrielle: Why were you interested in being featured in dapperQ?
Rachel: I heard about dapperQ because of Queer Fashion Week. I was at the show shooting the runways and was inspired to check out all things queer fashion. Naturally, dapperQ came up. As I checked out the site and learned more, I really liked what I saw and knew I wanted to be part of it in some way! Initially I thought I’d shoot some features because that’s what I do, but after talking to my wife, I started thinking about being the one that was featured. Although the initial idea was scary, I thought it would be awesome because it would allow me to do something outside of my comfort zone. I’m all for stretching and putting yourself out there. So I decided to take a chance and be the subject this time. I’m really glad I did. Having the camera turned on me was a great learning and growing experience!
Gabrielle: What advice would you pass along to someone who presents outside of traditional fashion binaries?
Rachel: My advice is simple and something I wish someone would have said to me a long time ago: Embrace it. Find what makes you feel good and wear it. Don’t hide who you are and don’t conform!