Fashion is an artform, one in which we’re coerced into participating. Anything you wear is making some kind of statement. Even if you wear something that tries not to make any statement at all, that in itself is a kind of statement. So, how I feel about fashion is about how I’d feel if I were forced to draw a picture every day, for my entire life. I hate it.
You might guess that I wear clothing that is pretty generic, and which says as little as possible. That’s not entirely true though. My dislike of fashion causes me to particularly dislike clothes shopping. My family picked up on this, so they know I really like being gifted clothing. So what I actually end up wearing is determined by a number of factors that have more to do with my family than with me.
Through a lot of college, this meant tourist T-shirts. My parents love traveling, and buying souvenir T-shirts is one of the things that they do. I’m usually not fond of these shirts, because I don’t like traveling. The shirts suggest that I’ve been to places that I haven’t been to, and which I would not wish to visit.
The current pattern is a lot of plaid flannel. I like this. It’s plain, it’s semi-formal enough for nearly any occasion, and best of all, it’s warm. I’m very skinny, so I get cold easily, so I almost always wear jackets in addition to flannel.
Something that took me a while to realize, is that plaid flannel is little bit of a guy thing. It’s less commonly worn by women. So there you go, my gender presentation is masculine, I guess.
In general, masculine clothing is more generic, tries to stand out less, tries to be less expressive. This is one particular bit of gender bullshit that actually works well for me. If you’re a woman and want to wear something that doesn’t stand out, I’m guessing you have to avoid things that are so generic that they stand out as such.
Although, there are plenty of ways that masculine clothing is actually more expressive or performative than we give credit for. Suits, ties, slacks, formal shoes, these are the bane of my existence. And if you want to learn about other kinds of expressive masculine wear, try looking up drag kings, who surely understand it better than I.
Speaking of which, I don’t like fashion, and I’m a gay guy, isn’t that a thing? In my experience with gay/bi guys, they’re more likely to be attentive to fashion. I think it’s partially a deliberate cultural marker, and partially because they want to be attractive to guys, who might (?) have more visually-oriented attraction than women do.
Oh, and then there’s camp, which is the flamboyant aesthetic that people might be most familiar with through mass media and pride parades. I’ve known gay/bi guys with campy aesthetics, but also many who have it not at all. It really depends on the space. So, if you’ve only had experience with a few gay/bi spaces, be careful not to overgeneralize.
I don’t really care what fashion other guys adopt, although I’m a little bit miffed that the primary cultural marker for being gay, is through some artform that I hate. In any case, I have no desire to appear attractive to other guys.
Did you know that there’s also ace fashion? There isn’t really, but people do find ways to express themselves at events. There are T-shirts with quotes (“I don’t want a relationship I want a spaceship” says a friend’s T-shirt). There are organizational T-shirts (I have one from the SF Bay Area group). You can also just wear clothing or scarves that use ace flag colors (purple, white, gray, black). There are also some more obscure cultural icons (cake, hearts and spades, a black ring, etc.).
I wear some of that some of the time, mostly for special events. But I feel uncomfortable with it. I don’t know why, I guess external appearance is just a site of anxiety rather than empowerment for me. So that’s why even at ace gatherings I tend to be there with the same plaid shirts.