Tuesday, May 24, 2022




The lines between fashion and sexuality have crossed throughout history, whether it is for better or worse. Queer people have used clothing, makeup, hair, and other forms as tools of self-expression, portraying their individuality and their rejection of social norms. Today, many LGBTQ+ women continue to influence how fashion is shaped.

Understanding the history of queer involvement in fashion is crucial in order to explain our fashion culture today. One of the most notable shifts in fashion norms in US culture was in the 1930s and 1940s. During World War II, many women took over blue collar jobs that opened up when men were sent overseas to fight. It was impractical to work in stockings and dresses, so many women switched to trousers or overalls.  During this time period, the three article rule was enforced, requiring individuals to wear at least three pieces of clothing matching their assigned sex at birth, or be arrested for cross dressing. Post war, a large portion of women, mainly LGBTQ+, never switched back, pushing for the normalization of women in “masculine clothing.” Although this rule was primarily used to target queer individuals, the pressure from LGBTQ+ women to allow all women to wear more masculine clothing is instrumental to how we view women’s fashion today. 

Without this insistence, the rise of acceptance towards more androgynous fashion wouldn’t have been possible. The popularity of short hairstyles for women, or pixie cuts, is one of the many outcomes from LGBTQ+ women’s influence on fashion. Another popular look from the 90s – vests and blazers. These form hiding articles can be mirrored back to queer women in underground gay bars at the beginning of the 20th century, wearing suits and ties. These, along with many other mainstream trends have originated in queer culture, yet many remain unaware of it. 

While LGBTQ+ women have paved the way for the traditional “butch” persona, they have also helped create the modern “femme” identity as well. Queer culture is all about being loud and accepting, while letting your sexuality empower you. Colorful prints and eye-catching makeup trends are ingrained into the LGBTQ+ community, much like those you would see on shows like Euphoria. Maybe add a bit more details on Euphoria and specific ways the show has influenced fashion.

LGBTQ+ designers, photographers, editors, cosmetic specialists, hair stylists and models continue to challenge the heteronormative narrative in the fashion industry, in favor of including  queer themes and ideas into fashion today. Fashion can be seen as daunting or exclusionary for many queer individuals, feeling they need to look or dress a certain way to be “gay enough” and fit the stereotypical narrative. Themes in mainstream fashion are just trends to some individuals, while crucial elements of another’s identity. One of the new fashion frontiers is unisex clothing. Removing the gender of clothing places more emphasis on the individual instead of the binary box. This campaign for freedom is sweeping the fashion industry, with hopefully more brands removing their gendered departments. 

LGBTQ+ women have influenced our modern fashion in a multitude of ways, yet they aren’t always included in the end product. It is important to understand how your favorite looks have developed, since many times the marginalized voices that created them are silenced. It is also important to remember that your sexuality is valid, no matter how you dress.