I found myself in a somewhat new (to me) predicament the other night. I felt, not for the first time ever but for the first time in a long time, like I was going out in drag. Allow me to explain.
Friday night I was heading out to a play party. And, true to femme form (or really, fashion-conscious form regardless of gender identity), I had already planned out in my head what I wanted to wear. I was going to tomboy it up in my leather shoes—NOT boots; I haven’t earned that right, but that’s another post for another time—my beloved black fedora and this exquisitely hand-pieced, locally made, brand new khaki green suede vest I had scored at Goodwill a few weeks ago. I was really looking forward to it because while I always feel in my mind and heart that I am roughly equal parts tomboy and femme, I don’t often outwardly portray the tomboy to such an extent.
Imagine my dismay when I get the vest on that night, go to look in the mirror and… the vest doesn’t look right. I really should have known better before I even put it on, but I was so excited about finding it that I didn’t think about this crucial fact: the vest was made for a man. It was made for broad shoulders and a flat chest, not my somewhat-less-broad shoulders and not-unsubstantial bosom. When buttoned it did amazing things for my waistline, but the armholes pooched out right around my breasts and just looked… well… stupid. My dismay quickly turned to frustration which, for me, quickly turns—and turned—into anger. (I don’t handle frustration well. Never have.)
I didn’t have a lot of other tomboyish options and I was running out of time. I tried on a few other garments but nothing fit the image that I had in my head. Finally I settled on one of the few things that technically looked good: a sleeveless black Eddie Bauer faux-wrap top. And it did look good. But it wasn’t the look I was going for. It was femme. And at least for that one night, I wanted to be more tomboy than femme.
Our butch kin know this quandary all too well. Their favorite garments are usually if not always made for men, and they struggle probably every day with suiting the masculine garments not to their masculine souls, but to the treacherously unmasculine lines of their bodies. I had always sympathized with this plight but not sure I’d ever truly empathized. Until now.
Although my mindset has since shifted back to include the “femme” part and I went out last night gloriously comfortable in a ridiculously low-cut spaghetti strap maxi dress, the dilemma of my Friday night is still with me. It’s fascinating how much clothing can identify us—and betray us. I feel slightly sheepish even writing about it, because what right have I to essentially complain about this issue when our wonderful butch counterparts know this struggle every day as opposed to one night? Turns out though that this can be a femme issue as well. Sometimes our wardrobe makes us blend in too much as opposed to standing out. And sometimes, when the femme is a bit of a blend, it can be the biggest trick of all just finding that perfect second skin.