I have a problem. I have a very small room and sliiightly more clothes than I have storage space. I realised recently that I have this issue partly because I have hoarding problems, but mostly because like me, my wardrobe is bisexual.
I mean, everyone has different styles of dressing: casual, smart, work, clothes you only wear around the house and maybe to the Co-op, clothes you will literally never wear again but have emotional significance and so you can’t throw them out (unless that’s just me, did I mention my hoarding issues?), summer/winter clothes, sports clothes etc etc, and onesies, of course. But it somehow escaped my notice that since coming out, subconsciously, and sometimes not so subconsciously, I dress differently depending on the gayness of the situation.
I realised the extent of these chameleon tendencies when I was trying to explain to someone (straight) how what is considered attractive is different on the scene than it is by straight people (which is a whollle other post!). I have clothes I always wear out on the scene and there are clothes I would pretty much only wear when going out to straight clubs, and go-to outfits for both situations. I dress differently when I’m with my straight pals or my gay pals. Sometimes very differently, like heels vs kicks, sometimes it’s just little things, like wearing a bracelet. This might make zero sense to a lot of you, but I hope it will for some of you, because in my typical cognitive dissonance style, I didn’t even realise I was doing it.
Sometimes dressing ‘straight’ is almost easier, actually. Hair down, put some make up on, and if I want to look fit wear heels and a dress. Simple. It’s almost like a uniform, in some ways. I know what’s expected of me. I know what the scale people will be judging me on and I know how to fit in.
On the other hand out on the scene there is such a variety of styles and gender expressions, it feels more personal. People really notice what you’re wearing. You can fit in by standing out. Also shoes. If you have cool kicks out on the scene, you’re made! Maybe it’s because the LGBT community is so important to me that I (over) think more about how I dress on the scene. All I know (and am trying to figure out why) is that although I sometimes love getting dressed up in heels and dresses, I’ve never really worn them out on the Scene. (That could just be because I like dancing like an idiot with my pals on the scene and heels are just impractical for jumping in).
The last two proper nights out I’ve had in the last 6 weeks (as opposed to my regular post work I-hate-my-job-drinking) I’ve worn
a) a dress, heels, and a leather jacket
b) coloured skinny jeans, Nike kicks, a t-shirt, denim shirt and a hoody
And I feel exactly like me in both of these, and I love it. And that’s just it. I’m not really dressing differently for other people, I’m dressing differently for me. For how I feel in each situation. And yet it is to do with other people. Because as I typed that I realised that of course, this chameleon-ness is all about other people. It’s about acceptance and fitting in and being recognised and of course that affects how I feel. And although it annoys me to admit it (because of the patriarchy), I do dress more stereotypically ‘feminine’ in straight clubs or if going somewhere with a boy. And I probably lean more ‘tomboy- ish’ out on the scene (side note I also could write about twelve million words about how much I hate how clothes are prescribed gender). But it’s all ridiculous, because for starters, I don’t feel any more or less ‘feminine’ in either of those outfits. It’s just all fairly instinctive and I just feel like me. And besides, I look the same underneath, whatever I wear.