Turn a Look: Queering Fashion

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By Sally Mulligan, PQ Monthly
If you’re a people-watching type like me, you can never be bored in a city like Portland. A city that is teeming with creative queers hell-bent on destruction: Destruction of expectations, destruction of the status quo, and the destruction of your ex’s favorite band tee (cutting it into a crop top was its destiny, thank you very much). To me, fashion is art you get to wear, and queering the fashion industry—taking what you want and leaving the rest for the muggles—is an artistic endeavor. So pick it out, mix it up, and rock it out, because there are no wrong answers. My favorite thing about being queer is expressing myself however I see fit. A close second is seeing how all of y’all choose to express yourselves. Looks are turned, hearts are broken. The sheer amount of inspiration I get to see every day gives me life—and new looks! Here are a few of my favorite recurring themes as of late. weekendwarrior_outWEEKEND WARRIOR Based on the club looks I have seen working the dance floor lately, it’s the end of the world as we know it—and you queermos feel just fine. The Head Queer in Charge here is Tank Girl (hubba hubba), but the details of this look are all yours: Face paint, outlandish prints, military details, studs, bondage, deconstructed garments, and lots of “conflicting†proportions (oversized tops with leggings, crop tops with longs skirts, etc.). In this post-apocalipstick queer utopia, you have to fight for your right to party and do what you have to do to survive. The club is a battlefield, so be sure and dress the part. Motivational Jams: “The Warrior,†Patti Smith; “Fight the Power,†Public Enemy; “Parents Just Don’t Understand,†DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince; “Grown Woman,†Beyonce.   cheekyjock_outCHEEKY JOCK Someone way famously once said, “My plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose.†I’ll let you finish the joke there, honey, but the point still stands. Sports aren’t my jam either, but I’m happy to steal the style. Head Queer in Charge of the jock clique is AC Slater from Saved by the Bell, and the essentials for this look are: Bright crop tops, fashion sweats, printed windbreakers, spandex booty shorts/spandex everything, mesh, neon makeup, nip slips, and vintage sneakers in the club/anywhere but the gym. You don’t need to be sweating to have me sweatin’ you in that ironic basketball jersey or baseball hat. Let me hear your body talk, homos. Motivational Jams: “Popular,†Nada Surf; “Let’s Get Physical,†Olivia Newton-John; “Under Pressure,†David Bowie; “January,†Disclosure. androwitch_outANDRO WITCH To all my shapeshifters, spellbinders, fake ass witches, and goth babes, I see you. And the enchanting way you layer fifty shades of black keeps me up at night trying to make my own magical look. Study up, your Head Queers in Charge are all those bad ass witches from The Craft. You’ll need black attire in every texture and silhouette under creation, your biggest boots, a vintage cloak, and some decidedly 90s touches: Black lipstick, a Ouiji board, and maybe some really bitchin’ lingerie. It’s no secret that queers of all bodies are a fan of this look; it’s all about layers to play off (or against) the shape that your goddess gave you, and being the weirdo you want to see in the world. Motivational Jams: “How Soon is Now?,†The Smiths; “Transmission,†Joy Division; “Spellbound,†Siouxsie and the Banshees; “Pictures of You,†The Cure.   folkyourself_outGO FOLK YOURSELF Ain’t that America? Not to this guy (I’m pointing to me right now.) I am loving this sartorial, tongue-in-cheek style of taking vintage Americana and turning it on its ass. The difference in aesthetic between the California coastline in the 60s and modern day Portland is (among other things) that us leather lovers prefer a bit more cheek—so work it out, queens. I’m not talking about “cheeks†as in cutoffs and chaps, per se (though both are welcome). I’m talking about the queering of bandanas (also handy for flagging, duh), American flag prints, a ratty t-shirt repping your dad’s favorite beer, and brown suede jackets with fringe. The motorcycle is optional, but your Head Queer in Charge is Mr. T—can I get an UNF? Motivational Jams: “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,†AC/DC; “Born to be Wild,†Steppenwolf; “Bad Dream Mama,†Eagles of Death Metal; “Made in America,†Kanye West & Jay-Z. Although I certainly see common threads when I am cruising in/through queer spaces, what I really notice and admire is everyone’s individual self-expression, and how we all appreciate and love up on each other’s personal style. And that, to me, is the core principle of queering the fashion industry: What truly sets us apart is the respect we have for each other. Whatever your bod, whatever your gender, whatever planet you are visiting from—express yourself. You’ll be welcomed with open, bejeweled arms. Sally Mulligan is a fat femme sissy who has lived in Portland for almost five years. She gets paid to tell jokes sometimes, and designs clothes when she can. Don't ask her about her sewing machine, she can't use it. Don't ask her about her banjo...or her guitar. She can't play them. Definitely ask about her dog, or if she wants a drink.