I must confess: I love clothes. I love fashion. As much as Regina George probably did. I spend a lot of time looking at screengrabs of the stuff that the fictional characters on my television either to admire or to gleefully whisper “What is Aria wearing?” The thing is, though, admitting that I am interested in clothing and fashion often feels like an admission that yes, I am bubble-headed and trifling. We tend to dismiss clothing, and interest in clothing, as superficial. I tend to think this is because the designing and sewing and admiring of clothes is a traditionally female domain. (It was also one of the first professional fields in a which a woman could make a living).
So yeah, I love fashion. And one of the many, many things I love about queer women is the diversity of how we express ourselves sartorially. We dress like Portia de Rossi. We dress like Lea DeLaria. We dress like Samira Wiley, Rachel Maddow, Lena Waithe, Tegan and Sara Quin, and everything in between. (So one small disclaimer: I cannot possibly hope to cover the all of the diverse, creative ways in which we gay ladies express ourselves sartorially in one article).
So the upshot, here is that I have a folder on my computer labeled “Queer Girl Outfit Goals” full of images of outfits worn by different TV show characters. Which I have now decided to share with you, dear reader. (You’re welcome.)
We are introduced to Nomi and Amanita when they are both naked, but for a rainbow strap-on. But that is just the beginning of the rich beautiful love story that plays out with Nomi dressed like the quintessential Sf tech geek dream girl and Amanita looking like a bohemian. Nomi dresses like a laid-back Bay Area hipster in plaid button-downs, T-shirts, blazers, capris, and canvas sneakers. Usually topped off with a pair of glasses with black plastic frames. Amanita, meanwhile, wears lots of rings, lots of earrings, statement necklaces and belts, tank tops of the flowy-bohemian and henley variety, leggings, and brightly colored/patterned trousers. Red nails and fuchsia lipstick. And costumes. Lots of costumes. (Amanita’s love of costumes actually becomes a plot point early on in the season. I think the fact that she rescues Nomi while dressed as a nurse may qualify her as an actual costumed superhero.)
Nomi’s best outfit: Sheer olive top, black bra, jeans, brown boots.
Amanita’s best outfit: black halter top, green patterned trousers. Also, all of her costumes and Pride outfits.
Way back in Season 1, Emily dressed in a way that suggested she still went shopping with her mom. There were a lot of pastel-colored shirts and cardigans in the mix. However, somewhere along the way, she stopped dressing like a little girl and started dressing like a grown-up lesbian. The eyeliner got heavier, and she started wearing plaid, leather, flannel, and denim. Sometimes all at the same time. And vests. Lots and lots of vests. I think the thing I like best about Emily’s fashion is the way she mixes soft, feminine pieces with tough pieces (florals and black leather, for example).
Best outfit: Suspenders, white button-down, black trousers. Cargo pants, leather cuff, vest. Pretty much any time she wears a vest, actually.
Paige McCullers, Pretty Little Liars
Paige McCullers also came into her own as a baby dyke since the first time we saw her. She ditched the Lego-man bangs and started wearing black muscle tanks and above-the-waist denim. And she makes it look damn good.
Best Outfit: Two words: Hoe. Down. Her Marlene Dietrich Halloween costume is a close second.
Amy Raudenfeld, Faking It
Amy’s outfits on Faking It come closest to matching my personal style goals, which could be described as “hard femme above the neck, soft butch below the neck.” Her exterior was laid-back and a little bit tough, probably because her heart and soul were so tender. There were a lot of henleys, cargo jackets, jeans, leather pants, and combat boots in the mix. (She owned a lot of really cute bras, too.) One thing that did amuse me in an eye-rolling way was the constant portrayal of Amy as unconcerned with her appearance. Like that time Farrah described Amy’s artfully constructed beach waves as “just hanging there limp.” Seriously. This is a girl who managed to look hot while buying Plan B with a bad hangover.
Best Outfit: Her “lesbian internet date” outfit: Plaid shirt, blank tank top, tight, dark jeans, leather cuff. Pretty much completely representative of all my sartorial aspirations.
Poussey Washington, Orange is the New Black
Let’s face it: Samira Wiley would look cute in a paper bag. In Season 1 of OITNB, she stole out hearts while dressed exclusively in tan scrubs and shapeless gray sweatshirts. However, one of the many things we learned about Poussey in her flashback episode in Season 2 was that her pre-incarceration fashion was on point. And I think that Samira Wiley is a lesbian fashion icon in the making. A woman who somehow looks equally good in butch and femme. (How is this fair?)
Poussey’s Best Outfit: Maroon joggers and sleeveless tiger shirt. All her other flashback outfits are a close second.
Glory be to Rick Famuyiwa (who wrote and directed Dope) for giving us a young, butch lesbian of color whose story did not end in tragedy, and to Patrik Milani who designed Diggy’s adorable, badass wardrobe. Early on in the movie, Diggy, Malcolm and Jib are described as ’90s hip-hop geeks, which is a very apt description of Diggy’s sense of style. Milani said that her wardrobe was modeled after Aaliyah (especially some of her earlier looks) and also inspired by the Instagram accounts of high school students in Inglewood today. Diggy is a reflection of a person many of us happen to know or be but rarely see on TV: a beautiful, fashionable butch girl often mistaken for a boy.
Best outfit: yellow crop-top, light-wash jeans, black snap-back.
Sam, Scream Queens
Unlike Diggy, Sam did not manage to outrun the lesbian death trope. It was very unfortunate to watch this harmful, upsetting trope play out yet again. And also very unfortunate that Scream Queens killed off a character whose fashion game was doing what a lot of straight guys are trying to do, and doing it better. (And let’s face it: as gay ladies, part of our job description is “doing what straight guys are trying to do, and doing it better.”)
Best outfit: Blue floral short-sleeved button-down, porkpie hat. (Short-sleeved button-downs are one of those articles of clothing that look gay no matter the gender of the person wearing them.)
Nyssa al Ghul, Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow
So the black-and-red leather battle armor might be a little much for the light of day. However, if you are the kind of lesbian who moonlights as a costumed vigilante, might I suggest an outfit along the lines of Nyssa’s? Mysterious. Badass. Not fucking around. Good for all your assassin needs. (Our girl also has the distinction of being the only person in the universe who actually looks good in a fedora.)
Best Outfit: the aforementioned battle armor. Seen in pretty much every episode in which Nyssa appears.