Welcome back to Style Dossier, Gabrielle Royal’s column that profiles stylish queers across the country. This edition, Gabrielle is featuring Bo, a New York City based fashion student and stylist. Prior to her switch to fashion, she worked in government contracting for several years before realizing her true passion. She is currently completing her Fashion Marketing degree at Parsons while working as a personal stylist at Bombfell. Bo is also a member of the Dapper Chicks of New York.
Gabrielle: Tell us a bit about your favorite outfit.
Bo: My favorite outfits vary with season. When it’s warmer, I love wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Otherwise, it would have to be a button-down and jeans. I have trouble buying denim, and I’m a little embarrassed to say that I still can’t graduate from shopping at American Eagle. The 28×28 just fits perfectly without fail! A lot of my wovens are from Bangkok, but the places that I shop stateside include Uniqlo and J.Crew. As far as accessories go, I’m obsessed with my denim tote from Aegis Handcraft. I also love wearing ties, and most of the ones I have, I’ve either made or gotten at department stores.
Gabrielle: Who is your biggest fashion icon and why?
Bo: My biggest fashion icon is Nick Wooster. He has an impressive amount of experience in the industry and always looks effortlessly cool. If anything, his look keeps getting better with age! Those tattoos also really add to his fantastic attire!
Gabrielle: How much of your personal style is influenced by your identity?
Bo: A great deal of my style is influenced by my identity. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy as far as apparel goes. I don’t like things that cling to my body, and I’ve always worn more unisex styles. I identify as a woman, but do like presenting masculine on the surface, so my style choices really reflect that.
I also don’t really try to follow trends, despite reading up on them for work and academic purposes. Obviously what’s in stores has trickled down from the trends set by designers, so I don’t technically have a say, but I don’t actively seek to purchase the latest styles. I dress solely for myself and don’t like having anything prescribed to me. Some days I’ll want to put on a shirt and tie to go to the grocery store. Other times I’ll want to wear something very plain and simple to a social outing. It’s really all a matter of how I’m feeling on a particular day. I often wake up and put on what I think I’ll feel most confident in that day, because when I’m confident, I’m extra happy!
Gabrielle: Why is queer visibility important and how does fashion help create space for members of our community?
Bo: Queer visibility is important because we still have a long way to go in attaining universal acceptance of fluid gender identities and sexualities. The more masculine I look, the happier I am in my own skin. But, because I identify as a woman, this really confuses a lot of people. It shouldn’t. I get questions all the time about when or why I decided to start wearing men’s clothing or why I cut my hair short. I absolutely hate how gender is prescribed to things like clothing, haircuts, or even movie and drink choices. Just because I decide to wear clothing that’s cut straight instead of full of darts to accentuate curves, doesn’t mean that I want to be a man. It’s purely for the aesthetics of the garment on my body. I wish people could just be okay with that, and I think that we can all get closer to this state of mind with more exposure.
While I look masculine, I love romantic comedies, enjoy shopping, and will occasionally (read: often) belt out Taylor Swift. That’s where assumptions based on appearance alone fall flat. We need queer visibility to help break the stereotypes that have been reinforced again and again in our society. I think fashion and personal style can really help to garner this visibility, especially when it pushes the boundaries of traditional conservative thinking.
Gabrielle: Tell us about your biggest fashion and/or shopping fail!
Bo: I have plenty of shopping fails since I like to do that thing where I browse a store for an hour or more, select all the merchandise that I want, and then decide that I shouldn’t buy anything and immediately leave. Does that count? It’s a bad habit of mine that’s clearly a waste of time!
Gabrielle: What advice would you give our readership? What advice can you offer to people who fit outside of society’s understanding of traditionally masculine and feminine styles?
Bo: My advice would be to dress however you feel most comfortable and to always remain true to who you are. If you’re not confident in your own skin or in the clothes you’re wearing, it shows. You’ll be less productive at work or school and less happy. I’m aware that not all places are accepting of deviations from the “norm,” but the good news is that you’re not stuck in that place forever. I had a hard time fitting in to the DC Metro Area scene, but NY has been much more accepting. So if you’re having a tough time now, hang in there. It truly can and will get better! You will most certainly find others who embrace, and even celebrate, who you are and how you choose to represent yourself out in the world.
Gabrielle: Tell us something unique about you.
Bo: I used to be a t-shirt blogger for several years. I started a blog called Loving This Tee during finals week of my junior year of college (2009) and dedicated my attention to independent brands like Regan Smith Clarke and SEIBEI. I also worked at a now defunct t-shirt company, where I learned to manually silkscreen art tees. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of great creatives.
Gabrielle: How did you hear about dapperQ? Why were you interested in a feature?
Bo: I heard about dapperQ several years ago when I was still living in Northern Virginia. I lacked a sense of community in the DC area so I was particularly drawn to the content of the site. I was interested in this feature because I want to contribute to queer acceptance, especially when it comes to those of color. You really don’t see many queer Asian Americans through media outlets, and I want to help raise that visibility in any way that I can.
Gabrielle: How can our readers stay connected with you?
Bo: Instagram: @itsdunz0 and I haven’t blogged in a while, but I have one called Short Hair Do Care that I definitely want to write in again soon!
www.sinruku.com, @sinruuuku on IG