Friday, July 30, 2021

Pushing Gender Boundaries

Who is Who in the Montréal Fashion Scene

This season’s Fashion Week (October 2012) was your most radical, most playful, and perhaps the most spectacular runway show to date. You put male models in high heels, used theatrical make-up and synthetic wigs, you had trans-gendered models, and your show managed to push the gender and race boundaries in a way that was both stunning and entertaining. What were your ideas and motivations for this kind of spectacle?

Denis Gagnon: I decided to make up such a show because the resources were reduced and I can always count on my friends to help me. I’ve been in this transgender-cosmopolite scene forever (or almost) and I thought this category of people had a place in a show. They are creative and people used to being part of shows and this had never been done before in Montreal. I thought it was about time for an innovative show, with different “models”.

Read more here. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

So Sexy Shoulder Skimming Top

I am always looking for a way to add to an already existing wardrobe piece in my closet.  I know I had a green t-shirt that went perfectly with the above Lilly Scallop Skorts and Lilly floral skirt.  Both of these are pieces I have worn many times probably explaining why the t-shirt is missing.  Likely gone from a closet clean out because it was faded.   

I saw this "So Sexy Shoulder Skimming Top" on Boston Proper this evening and ordered it right away. It has a lot going for it; sleeveless, boat neckline, shelf bra built in,  92% cotton/8% spandex and best of all made in the USA. I find the boat neck to be feminine and flattering for my shoulders. I love the color.  It is almost a vintage look and I remember my mother having dresses/blouses that looked like this in the 50's. 

Adding to existing items provides new life and excitement. I know the Lilly Floral Skirt is at least 10 years old.  Amazing, it still fits!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Can You Wear Shorts and High Heels?



You must have heard fashion editors say you can’t wear shorts with high heels. In fact, they keep saying this is one of the five biggest faux pas in fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they are entirely wrong, but they are forgetting about these two types of shorts, tailored shorts and silk shorts, that go perfectly with high heels. Plus, both of them are 2021 the most fashionable shorts. Luckily I’m here to give you right and finally show you one of those shorts and how to style them with high heels to get bonus points from the fashion police.

No doubt, the question can I wear heels with shorts is trending on google these days. Especially since so many fashion editors say you can’t wear heels with shorts. But they keep forgetting to add what kind of shorts you can’t style with high heels. Yes, if a slight doubt came into your mind when you read about that rule, you were right. You can’t generalize shorts when it comes to this.

According to Stitch Fix / Style:

The onset of summer often leaves us pondering whether heels can, in fact, be paired with those leg-baring summer shorts. The short answer is: absolutely!  

Venus Striped Button
 Front Shorts
The thing is that most of the fashion editors think about the mini shorts when this question pops out this season. You know those mini shorts that barely cover the bottom? Well, you certainly can’t wear any kind of high heels with mini shorts. We have seen few celebrities trying to pull off that look with strappy sandals and not to say anything more, it simply didn’t look good.

So yes, that is why we now keep reading about this no high heels rule when it comes to the shorts. Even so, as said before there are two exceptions. Two types of shorts you can wear with the high heels. And guess what? Both of these shorts are 2021 most stylish shorts. And what is more, one of these shorts happen to be one of my favorites on the go items every single summer.


Can I wear shorts with high heels?

Yes, if you wear silk shorts or tailored shorts. Again, the only two shorts that can pass the high heels rule are loose silk shorts that I’m wearing with my summer outfit on the go. And tailored shorts that are work appropriate too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Law Banning Treatment Of Trans Youths


“To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm,” U.S. District Judge Jay Moody ruled on Wednesday.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked enforcement of Arkansas’ ban on gender confirming treatments for transgender youth while a lawsuit challenging the prohibition proceeds.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in May asking U.S. District Judge Jay Moody in Little Rock to strike down the law that made Arkansas the first state to forbid doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or sex reassignment surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for such treatment. The ACLU sought the preliminary injunction while its lawsuit proceeded.

District Judge Jay Moody:

“To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm,”

The law had been set to take effect July 28.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youths and their families, as well as two doctors who provide gender confirming treatments. The lawsuit argues that the prohibition would severely harm transgender youth in the state and violate their constitutional rights.

“This ruling sends a clear message to states across the country that gender affirming care is life-saving care, and we won’t let politicians in Arkansas — or anywhere else — take it away,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas.

Arkansas’ Republican-dominated Legislature overrode GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the measure. Hutchinson vetoed the ban following pleas from pediatricians, social workers and the parents of transgender youths who said it would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.

Monday, July 26, 2021

A Gender Game For Gifted Guys - Androfeminine

 I came across the Androfeminine community on Facebook.  My first reaction was "do we really need another classification under the transgender umbrella?" 

Androfeminine from Tumbler



word forming element meaning "man, male, masculine," from Greek andro-, combining form of anēr (genitive andros) "a man, a male" (as opposed to a woman, a youth, or a god), from PIE root *ner- (2) "man,"


characteristic of or appropriate or unique to women - the embodiment or conception of a timeless or idealized feminine [female] nature


On several of my "I Love A Success Story" posts, I have written about male fashion models who for intentional reasons, are totally feminine appearing. In the case of many of these, the term "Androfeminine" seems to fit. Males that are feminine.
Where these androfeminine individuals choose under the transgender umbrella is self identification; personal. 

We all are aware of how easily Andreja Pejic blended in, modeling in the female sphere. She was an absolute natural.  However she is not a "one-of".  She later embraced the transgender label and went on to transition, which in her case included GRS.

The Facebook community has 100s of photos that well represents this group. They are beautiful and I assume that many are models, based on the quality of the photos. They are far beyond the designation of passable. I think society's tacit acceptance of someone being transgender has opened avenues for feminine men to live openly and commercial viability has ensued.    

Oh to be 50 years younger!  Below are several clips from the Facebook Community "Androfeminine":

Sam Riley 

Kaiti Gramma

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Friday, July 23, 2021

From Shame to Self-love - Crystal Rasmussen


We are all trying to escape our own shame.

Don't judge this book by the cover - A lot of insightful points. 


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Musical Interlude - Signs

SIGNS" was a #3 hit in 1971 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. LYRICS: 

 And the sign said "Long-haired freaky people need not apply"
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said "You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do"
So I took off my hat, I said "Imagine that. Huh! Me workin' for you!"
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

I Love A success Story - Dana International


Dana International

By Eve Barlow May 2018 

She was tall, svelte and glamorous in a floor-length glitter gown, with luscious brown curls and the kind of dramatic arm movements that would put an ice dancer to shame. Plus, she had an unmistakable pronunciation of the word Cleopatra. Dana International cut a dazzling figure in May 1998 when she won Eurovision for Israel. Her song, Diva, had a lot to do with it: an earworm with a thick club beat and a karaoke-ready chorus that you could make up as you went along if you didn’t quite catch all the Hebrew.

Appearing at the semi-finals of the 2011
 Eurovision in Dusseldorf.
 Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Dana was also Eurovision’s first ever trans winner. Twenty years ago there was no Ru Paul or Trixie Mattel; the Oscar-winning Hilary Swank movie Boys Don’t Cry was a year away. The likes of TV series Transparent, or actors such as Laverne Cox, were off in the distance. The trans community wasn’t invisible, but it wasn’t the staple of the pop culture conversation that it has become; Dana’s performance at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena felt like a watershed moment, a major celebration of a trans artist on an international stage.

Read more: Viva la diva! How Eurovision's Dana International made trans identity mainstream

I’m not saying I’m Barbra Streisand or Mariah Carey. People don’t care about my voice. They care that I speak my opinion, without fear. They’ll say I’m so brave, blah blah blah. I’m just living my life, and it’s not an easy life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Jeans with Heels Follow-up - Hello You Look...


At The Mall

This is a follow-up to my post last week: "How Do I Wear Heels With Jeans?" For the above photo I could not resist asking a perfect stranger to take the photo in front of the mall's Forever 21 store.  Gorgeous and Forever 21 - Could it get any better? 

The Coach shoes are my best "walk the mall heels" from well over 10 years ago.  They are so comfortable and so well made that they have seen the shoe repair/recondition shop multiple times. The top is an off-one-shoulder Amazon knit, and the jeans are super skinny button fly Levis.  

The afternoon began with getting my hair done, and then off to the mall. First a return at Macy's, and then an exchange at Tommy Bahama. The above banner photo was taken by a friendly sales associate at Tommy Bahama. 

Next a bathing suit return at Lilly Pulitzer. I love the Lilly store and it is such a feminine enclave with its sea of pinks, greens and Palm Beach paisley. I tried on the super cute dress, shown, and pair of shorts. My return almost covered the two new items.  

Not ready to end my afternoon, I headed to the mall's  Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant. This Friday afternoon it was busy so I sat at the bar. There I had a glass of "chilled sweet red wine" and a flatbread pizza.  The service was outstanding and food delicious.    

After my snack, I walked to the other end of the mall and enjoyed browsing Pottery Barn.  A great store for decorating ideas. Still a country girl at heart! 

Walking back through the mall and to my car, I was so proud of my cute Lilly shopping bag. Not a bag any male would be caught dead carrying - Well unless...

A fun escape afternoon that lead into the evening. Any additional thought on the tight jeans and heels?  


Monday, July 19, 2021

Lip Shape and Size - Fillers

Ideal Lips 
My first real kiss did not play out as I expected. In my inexperienced early teen mind it was everything I had ever hoped. My girlfriend did not see it that way. I remember vividly the comment that followed - "Wow, you don't have any lips!" Similar remarks have come from makeup artists as they described how they would draw lip-lines and then fill with color the space inside the line. That always worked and even in my early Rhonda photos there are drawn lips. However, with close examination there was always a fake look. 

A before with the Lips
 drawn in to create definition

Fast forward, my daily presentation is somewhat androgynous and only when dressing for an event or meeting do I go all in with makeup.  Maybe a little eyeliner, blush and lip gloss for the day time. Drawing in the lip-line and filling it in is not part of my daily, out-the-door, look.

A few week ago a well respected
local plastic surgeon did a zoom presentation and discussed a new (to the US) Resilient Hyaluronic Acidcosmetic cosmetic filler (RHA). The demonstration involved injecting the filler into the lips with a micro-needle. There were startling results immediately - instant gratification.

From another surgeon's site, here are the benefits that can be derived form lip fillers.

Bengtson Center

After a consultation with Lori, Dr. Pinsky's PA, I said yes.  She was competent and assured me that the injections would be natural and would enhance my over all look.  A numbing cream was applied and during the 15 minute procedure I felt no pain. Lori's expert hand worked the four sides of my upper and lower lips and the center cupid's bow. I was impressed with her artistry and professional manner.  Without question this was a procedure she did many times a day; practice makes perfect.  

My big question was, how long will the results last? There is a lot of hype concerning the new RHA filler.  As one site states:
Unlike other fillers, RHA® lasts for approximately 9 to 18 months. Results will depend on the age, lifestyle, and area treated.     

If I am able to get that wearability, I will be happy.  I can tell you without question I am super satisfied with the results and today, I have lips.  Thank you Lori and Dr. Pinsky 

My before and after. 


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Rhonda's Political Week In Review 7-18-2021


Georgia’s Jim Crow 2.0 Voting Bill Is So Much Worse Than You Think

The scene was straight out of the Jim Crow South: Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, signed a sweeping voter suppression bill into law on Thursday that not-so-subtly takes aim at the Black vote, going so far as to criminalize bringing food and water to voters in line. He scrawled his signature on the legislation while sitting in front of a portrait of an actual slave plantation, surrounded by six white men, on the 56th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the culmination of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March for voting rights.  [Read the whole opinion post]

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Put On...

A Classic!

Works for me. 


Friday, July 16, 2021

How Do I Wear Heels With Jeans?

According to Stitch Fix /Style :

If there’s a sure-fire way to instantly elevate a pair of jeans (quite literally), it’s with a pair of femme shoes. If you ask us, heels fit the bill perfectly. They’re fun, polished, and there are so many styles to choose from! No matter the type of denim you’re donning, there’s a pair of heels out there that’s perfect for them.

If you have a pair of go-to jeans, they’re probably skinnies. Streamline this polished silhouette with sky-high pointed-toe pumps in a seasonal color. Have happy hour plans after work? Add a printed blouse and a blazer—which you’ll swap for a moto jacket as soon as you clock out.


I could not agree more. Jeans and a feminine/androgynous top are my every day choices. The shoes, most of the time, are platform sneakers which provide an ever so slight, feminine differential. The same goes for my eye wear choices and occasional earnings.  Am I read? Seldom and most of time addressed as "Ma'am, what may I get you?"; no corrections needed.  

Skinny jeans have crept into every day life and if you are not seeing them everywhere then you just are not looking hard enough.  I have been hesitant to pair them with high heels thinking maybe, at best, just age in-appropriate or, at worst, trashy.   

Best Jeans for Women over 50

I have a hair appointment today at a new salon that is modern and edgy, so decided to trow cation to the wind. I am a little out of my comfort zone, however, getting my hair done does always gives me a confidence boost. I do have several items to return to my mall Macy's so will test the look - plus my confidence there.     

All of the above items are in my wardrobe in one form or another and the only new addition is the Pikolinos, POMPEYA  Ankel boot with 3.5" heel. They have not yet arrived from Amazon and I will let you know how they work out.  A nice addition for that someday fall travel up-north.   

What do you think: Excited to partner your pumps and jeans? Tell us how you plan on styling them?  Heels and tight jeans; A great "Feminine Differential" or trashy?  


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Dressing a Male as a Female

 Turning an ordinary Joe into an extraordinary JoAnn.

By Danielle Jennings  Fashion Lifestyle Journalist

Danielle Jennings

In order to be pulled off in an effective and convincing manner, dressing a male as a female requires a great deal of effort. Choosing the right clothing to conceal masculine traits, understanding sizing, and selecting the best foundation garments can help turn an ordinary Joe into an extraordinary JoAnn.

Clothing Tips for Dressing a Male as a Female:

Knowing exactly what types of clothing will look best on your frame is key to pulling off a feminine look. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use caution when wearing strapless or thin-strapped designs. This is because men naturally have broader shoulders than women, and if you want to pull off dressing as a woman seamlessly, opting to show your shoulders is a dead give away that you're a man. If you must wear a strapless style, be sure to have a wrap, stole, or jacket handy to cover up. Also, instead of wearing thin spaghetti straps, choose wider straps that are more flattering.

  • Form-fitting clothing looks better than you think. It may look and feel a little awkward at first, but deciding to wear form-fitting clothing over baggy, relaxed styles is definitely the way to go. It creates the natural outline of a woman's body easier, and helps you create the full illusion. Whether it be dresses, skirts, pants or tops, clothing cut close to the body works best.

  • Embrace darker colors, and be cautious with light or bold ones. Darker colors are going to easily conceal the more masculine elements of your body, thus creating a more convincing illusion. Lighter shades should really be worn with caution because you can't hide anything when the color you're wearing is especially light. Bold colors are more forgiving than light ones, but they also tend to draw a lot of attention, so be aware before you buy.

  • Dress your body as though you were a woman. This basically means that the way you dress as a man does not apply to the way you dress as a woman. You need to know what female body type you have, and dress it accordingly for the most flattering look. The way to do this is to do a little research on female body shapes and see which one you best fit into, and then style your clothing as such.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mj Rodriguez Makes History

Emmys: Pose's Mj Rodriguez Makes History, Becomes First Trans Woman Nominated in The category is… one for the record books.

By Michael Ausiello / July 13 2021

Mj Rodriguez Lead Acting Category.

Pose star Mj Rodriguez received an Emmy nomination on Tuesday for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, making her the first trans woman in history to be recognized in a lead acting category. Rodriguez — a 2021 TVLine Dream Emmy nominee — was honored for her her work as house mother Blanca in the FX drama’s third and final season. (View complete nominations list here.)

All told, Pose walked off with nine nominations for its final season. In addition to Rodriguez, the show snagged nods for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Billy Porter.

Despite Pose earning 11 Emmy nomination over its first two seasons (including an Outstanding Drama Series nod in Season 1), not a single member of the series’ predominantly trans female cast had ever been recognized prior to this year.

On the opening day of Emmy voting back in June, GLAAD released an open letter to Emmy voters urging them to give Pose its due.

 “This television season Emmy voters have the opportunity to make history — an opportunity to celebrate an entire underrepresented community that hasn’t been valued for their artistic vision, creativity, or contributions,” the letter read. “From the beautifully crafted storylines to the remarkable cast performances, Pose broke new ground for transgender inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, leaving behind a legacy that will change the future of trans representation on television. In its final season, TV Academy voters must acknowledge the importance of telling and recognizing diverse storytelling, which includes the performances of trans people of color who have been overlooked for far too long.”

Rodriguez was recently tapped to star opposite Maya Rudolph in a a forthcoming, still-untitled comedy series for Apple TV+.

Mj Rodriguez:

So I think the most important thing is for you (LGBTQIA+) find places that they feel comfortable with and also get to know themselves. I know this is easier said than done, but it's important to be able to exist without having to worry about what other people say.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Decoding Genderless Fashion, The Future of the Industry?

 Genderless fashion designers and global retailers discuss the segment predicted to be the future of the industry.

So, what must be addressed for things to move forward? Retailers must reassess their merchandising strategies, designers must reevaluate what a genderless collection actually is, and the industry must learn the verbiage.

By Obi Anyanwu on January 8, 2020

The Language

Ludovic de Saint Sernin
Men's Spring 2020

Smith at the WWD Culture Conference used a character called the “Gender Unicorn” to illustrate the proper way to address gender and sexuality. He spoke of five things related to identity, including the sex one is assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, who one is intimately attracted to and then who one is emotionally attracted to.

The parts that are pertinent to fashion are gender identity and gender expression. To start, a person can be assigned one of three sexes at birth: male, female or intersex. Then comes gender identity, which is what one identifies themselves as and gender expression, which is how one dresses to express themselves. Smith started his speech identifying himself as a “cis man,” meaning he was assigned male at birth and identifies as male.

Why is this important? Smith explained at the conference that when he was young, sexuality and expression were lumped together, “but now it’s all about separating your sexual orientation with your gender identity.”

Christina Zervanos, head of public relations at Phluid Project, said the non-binary consumer “combats the word unisex, because it has the word sex in it. For a lot of people, it speaks to sexuality when it’s about how you identify yourself.”

“Gen Z is begging for the non-binary language,” Zervanos said. “It takes a lot of learning and unlearning.” According to Pew Research Center, 35 percent of Gen Z is familiar with gender-neutral pronouns, followed by Millennials at 25 percent. Throw in Gen X at 16 percent and the total number of people familiar with gender-neutral pronouns reaches 76 percent.

Smith also said at the conference, “If I was going to represent a young community, especially a gender-expansive young community, I need to learn the language.”

“Personally, I find there is a difference between the two terms,” said Brigitte Chartrand, Ssense senior director of women’s wear buying. “Unisex feels like an older term, which refers to designs that are not made for a specific body type. Whereas gender-fluid is more of a loose term that can be applied to clothing that embraces or rejects typical gender norms of design. Regardless of specific definitions, I think both terms are about welcoming a community of like-minded individuals with a focus on inclusivity.”

Montreal-based retailer Ssense embraces gender-fluid fashion through store buys that blur the distinctions between men’s wear and women’s wear. Though the Ssense homepage opens with “shop men” and “shop women,” Chartrand said the lines have been blurred for five years and merchandising is determined by aesthetics, if a product appeals to the Ssense customer, and years of buying data.

We don’t categorize our brands as ‘unisex’ or ‘gender-fluid’,” Chartrand said. “We’ve had this approach for many years. Our audience is predominantly aged between 18 and 34, so they’re generally more open-minded and readier to embrace new ideas. It’s more about differences than difficulties. Cut, fit, sizing and styling can all be major considerations.”

Many brands are adopting the language, describing their gender-neutral collections as genderless, like Official Rebrand, the genderless label from non-binary designer and creative MI Leggett. They actually coined the term “gender-free.”

“Gender is not a fixed thing,” said Leggett, whose pronouns are they/them. “I’d never heard people use the term gender-free when I started the brand. It’s kind of a play on gluten-free. If you don’t tolerate gluten, you don’t have to consume it, so I thought it was a funny play. A lot of people use gender-neutral. That feels a little stale to me. Free implies more freedom. Agender, genderless, there’s so many ways to describe your ideology as a brand. It all depends on what you actually mean. So to me it’s gender-free.”

Read the whole article - It is fascinating and a very insightful view in to where genderless may be be headed... 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Musical Interlude - My Girl Bill

Listening to this always bring a smile.


Comment from YouTube:

Jim Stanford and Roger Miller are two of the lyrical genius giants of 60’s and 70’s country. Both men talented beyond measure and I think that gets lost due to the humor of their tunes.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Rhonda's Political Week In Review 7-11-2021


On some Sundays I like to punctuate the political humor with an editorial comment.  I found the comment below on Quora and it cuts to the nature of the Trump doctrine/disciple.  As a registered independent, I have voted Republican more than Democratic, although I am sickened by where the Republican party is today. This editorial addresses a question that has been in my head for a while.  Comments? 

What will it take for the GOP to turn away from former President Trump?

By: Richard Mclaughlin (with my edits

The problem is not Trump. The problem is the racism, the ignorance, the tens of millions who would piously claim not to be racists while doing everything they can to maintain a white power majority. The small, though not inconsequential, number who would be happy to see an Auschwitz in America, if they got to pick the inmates.

Fearful of becoming a minority in their own country, this seething herd of haters, racists, xenophobes, misogynists, (homophobes) are fearful of the repercussions from the minorities they have gleefully oppressed since Reconstruction. They are the virus that infected the Republican Party, destroyed its immune system, and turned its brain to mush. Their agenda is voter suppression (to maintain power) and (if that does not work) insurrection.

They are still out there as dumb, gullible, angry and, racist as ever. They are the worst people in America and all they need is another Trump. They are looking for one every day. (There are plenty of wannabees.)


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Friday, July 9, 2021

Androgynous Lingerie?

What is Androgynous Lingerie, Anyway?

My Note: I present androgynous most of the time when not being overtly feminine for an event, meeting or dinner out.  People read me as they please. Most of the time the interaction are feminine, as I would expect, based on the feminine differentials that are presented.  I found this blog post to be very interesting especially with its definition of  androgyny.  Please comment. 

From the Lingerie Addict
BY ROSE APRIL 15, 2015

I'll be honest: I'm fascinated by the idea of androgyny in lingerie. Androgyny (when we're talking about aesthetics) is defined as a blending of masculine and feminine traits, or alternately, as a point between masculine and feminine. But when looking at lingerie, how do you decide whether a look is androgynous or not?

As a Supreme Court justice once said about something completely different: "I know it when I see it." I know when a look I'm wearing feels androgynous to me personally. But it seems to me that it's more complicated than that. I know what I see, but if androgyny is completely subjective, how do I know I'm conveying it to other people? What signals to people that something is in that elusive middle ground between masculine and feminine?

In order to answer this question I'm going to get a little academic today. I think that the best way to tackle this topic will be to look at how the word is getting used on the regular by experts and devoted amateurs, and see if I can come up with a few theories on what it is that can make a lingerie look androgynous.

Strategic Absence

Much of the time, androgyny ends up being defined by absences. The "androgynous model" is often someone with no facial hair, minimal curves, no heavy musculature. To a degree, we "read" people's genders by running down a checklist of traits like these. Breasts? Probably female. Beard? Probably male. Both? Takes a little more figuring out. When we look at clothing, the ideas are more abstract. We look at fit, color, and design elements to get a sense of what gender the piece of clothing is oriented towards.

A VPL bra, featuring no
 overtly feminine detailing.
Is this androgynous?

Caro, the blogger behind The Lingerie Lesbian, has put together a few collections of androgynous lingerie (For more examples, go here). Caro's selections are missing the gender indicators that you might find on more feminine lingerie: there's less lace, fewer of the "girly" colors, an absence of bows and ruffles that would normally send those "this is feminine!" signals.

These pieces certainly have an androgynous feel to them, but few of them are explicitly labeled as androgynous. Their androgyny comes mostly from not being strongly gendered. Similarly, last week I talked about Jenny Shimizu not wearing a bra at all: the bra is a very gendered piece of lingerie and a normalized part of the American female wardrobe, so skipping it is skipping a lot of gendered implications.

I think that the exact tipping point between androgynous and masculine (or androgynous and feminine) is a matter of taste and consensus, but often for a look to be androgynous, the wearer has to be balancing elements. (If you're interested in learning how, Autostraddle has a fantastic article laden with options for incorporating masculine underwear into your wardrobe.)

Read the whole Blog Post...

So What Is Androgynous Lingerie?

Androgyny, I think, is a constant negotiation that accounts for both your own desires and the expectations of your society. What's androgynous in one place may be feminine or masculine in another. For example, if you live in a country where bras are not the norm, not wearing a bra might not make you appear especially androgynous to the people around you. It might still make you feel androgynous, though, depending on your own experiences and the expectations you have about femininity.

Ultimately, androgyny seems to be about association. Because it's located between masculinity and femininity, it often makes references to those poles. And androgyny seems to appear more strongly when we invoke it.

At the end, I'm left with more questions -- questions about the histories that led us to think of certain lingerie pieces as feminine or masculine, questions about lingerie norms and gender in other countries, questions about whether different bodies influence what does and doesn't seem androgynous (and whether that's entirely fair). For now, I'll just ask: what lingerie pieces or stylings look androgynous to you, and why? 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

A Practical Wedding

 We Got To Shoot The First Gender Bending
Wedding Dress Campaign!

When I started A Practical Wedding (APW) almost twelve years ago, one of the most conservative parts of the (very conservative) wedding industry was wedding dress companies. If you wanted to look like a (thin, white, blond, straight) cupcake in a strapless dress, they had you covered. If that wasn’t you, and wasn’t the dress you wanted, you were out of luck. And while the wedding industry as a whole has come a long way in twelve years, wedding dress companies by and large have come… less far. Often, the way it works is that you’re standing on a pedestal (literally) in front of an entourage of some of your favorite humans, clipped into a sample dress several sizes too small and feeling like you’re bending over backward to accommodate the wedding industry, rather than the other way around. The experience isn’t designed to fit everyone and a lot of people are left feeling emotionally (and physically) exhausted post-wedding dress fitting.

So when our friends at Maggie Sottero reached out and told us they wanted us to do a shoot with dresses from their size-inclusive Rebecca Ingram line representing all bodies we were like HOLD THE PHONE. Our first question to them was “but do you really mean it?” And they did. Like: THEY DID. They have three lines of dresses: Maggie Sottero, Rebecca Ingram, and Sottero & Midgley—and they all offer dresses in sizes zero to twenty-eight, so we asked them if we could feature a plus-sized woman in the shoot, and they said, “Yes please.” Then we went way out on a limb and asked them if we could feature a gender non-conforming man in the shoot, and they said, “Absolutely.”

Y’all. I’m still a little bit in shock. Delighted shock. Maggie Sottero may just have my life long allegiance (as many of you know, my oldest is a “gender creative” seven-year-old, so this is very near and dear to my heart).

Our goal for this campaign was to photograph real people, not the fresh-off-the-runway models that you see in all the glossy wedding magazines. What do you do when you know what type of content you want to (and should) see but doesn’t yet exist? You go on and create it yourself. We knew we needed a man in a wedding dress, because, hello, there are men out there looking for gender nonconforming wedding options, with no or limited inspiration to pull from. And if I’ve learned anything from my son’s journey, it’s that the world is more than willing to provide more “masculine” presenting options for “girls”, but almost nobody is repping for “boys” who want to wear a fabulous dress.

And as the team at APW knows all too well, finding fashionable images of plus-size brides is like finding a diamond in the rough. The industry is doing a better job of being more inclusive, but it is just not good enough. But lucky for us, Maggie Sottero is an industry leader and not scared to go outside of the box and was all for us putting a man and a plus-size model in their dresses and letting us roll with it. If you ask us, we did pretty damn good.

When we reached out to Matthew about the possibility of participating in this shoot, we honestly had no idea what he’d say. Ya’ll, we are too lucky to have (a) fox like Matthew in our network—here’s his response:

Reclaiming the rite of marriage for all people is possibly the best mission statement we’ve ever heard and pretty neatly encapsulates everything we believe about weddings. Feel free to use it often yourself while wedding planning. Whenever you’re being told that a certain dress style isn’t 'right' for your body type or that you have to wear this or that on your wedding day because of gender constructs or that things simply aren’t done that way, just take a breath and intone 'Excuse me, but I am reclaiming the rite of marriage!'