12 Retrobad/AWESOME Moments In Lesbian Blazer-Wearing History

It is a truth commonly acknowledged that queers are much better at blazers than other humans. Back in the day, we rocked blazers and suitjackets with style…

150 Years of Lesbians

…and in the modern era, nobody does blazers better:


But this also means that we were especially vulnerable to the late ’80s-’90s terrible/AWESOME Blazer Situation. You know the situation I’m talking about.

There was a lot of that. There was also a little bit of this…


Furthermore there were often things like this:

But how did this impact the lesbians? Let’s look at some of these kickass moments in queer fashion history.

12 Retrobad/AWESOME ’80s/’90s Blazer Situations

1. k.d. Lang, 1989

K.D. Lang, 1989 [Image by © Neal Preston/CORBIS]

gather round young lezzies and listen to me tell the story of the oregon trail, as illustrated on this blazer (© Neal Preston/CORBIS)

2. Rosie O’Donnell, 1998

Rosie O'Donnell, 1998 (DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS IN NEW YORK --- Image by © Gregory Pace/Sygma/Corbis)

hey i have a bag of ecstasy in my pocket, wanna party (© Gregory Pace/Sygma/Corbis)

 3. Amanda Bearse, 1982 (with Sandra Bernhard)

Amanda Bearse and Sandra Bernhard, 1983 (Image by © CORBIS)

when you can’t decide between a sweatshirt and a blazer, try the sblazer! (Image by © CORBIS)

4. Martina Navratilova, 1994

Image by © Rick Maiman/Sygma/Corbis

i’m just gonna sneak out now with all these awards underneath my giant blazer (© Rick Maiman/Sygma/Corbis)

5. Ellen DeGeneres, 1997

 Image by © Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis

i knew i was gonna win that’s why i wore an outfit to match my globe (© Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis

6. Melissa Etheridge, 1989

(© Neal Preston/CORBIS)

welcome to the wilderness where i will woo you with my blazer and this guitar i left in the mud (© Neal Preston/CORBIS)

7. Lily Tomlin, 1986

(Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS)

i think buffy had this same blazer for real (Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS)

8. Jodie Foster, 1992

(Image by © Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis)

one thing’s for sure, it’s not gonna be easy to come out of that blazer (© Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis)

9. k.d Lang

( Image by © Neal Preston/CORBIS)

why hello there blazer-lovers ( Image by © Neal Preston/CORBIS)

10. Ellen Degeneres, 1996

(Image by © Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis)

part blazer, part snow queen (Image by © Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis)

11. Leisha Hailey, 1996

1990s-leisha-kd copy

honestly i think buffy also had this blazer

12. Riese, 1992


as you can see i have been stylish for a really long time

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2855 articles for us.


  1. YouKnow

    Oh man, that’s some breaking bad business Melissa. She’s ready to do some badass science in the wilderness right now.
    Also Leisha and K.D. Lang – I never even knew! /Lesbian pop culture before my time/

    • i feel like eth is gonna serenade the fuck out of that sunset for sure

      • or just a slap for being a hipster twat

        either would be justified

        • Kate

          LOL :) I already did my daily insult of a hipster so i’ll give you a round of applause on this one.

      • Lauren

        I think you get gay crack. It’s like regular crack but with glitter.

  2. K


    Side note I’m really curious as to what people will think about our current fashion trends 20 years from now.

    • lina

      sitting here, wearing a shirt w/ a dog sporting a mustache I am asking myself the same question

        • lina

          HA! here you go

          yes, this is our family dog. and yes, I put a mustache on a pic of a dog and made myself a shirt. now the internet knows I am that kind of person. (it actually turned out quite good. it’s just the dog on it, not the black backround.)don’t judge.

          • I once crocheted a fez and put it on my bunny. He still hasn’t forgiven me. So I am at least equally ‘that kind of person.’

          • lesbianswhomakeclothesfortheirpets.tumblr.com

          • K


          • If that tumblr isn’t a real thing then someone should totally make one. I would follow that.
            Though I did once knit myself and my dog matching griffindor scarfs…

          • If there is something wrong with combining craft love, nerd love, and pet love into one awesome project… I don’t wanna be right!

    • My high school had themed costume days sometimes as a school spirit activity, and Decades Day (generally featuring the ’60s-’90s, assigned to different classes) was always really entertaining. I am seriously looking forward to the day where I’ll get to help my teenage kid or nibling figure out how to dress like they’re from the 20-teens.

      “Well kiddo, there were a lot of things with galaxy print on them, or ironic slogans, or pictures of cats. If you want to really go for the look, I can find you a clip-on septum piercing and give you an undercut.”

  3. For a moment I thought that both the legs showing in the JCPenny ad belonged to the girl in the blazer and was super impressed.

    • damnit. i thought they were too until you ruined the illusion for me.

  4. Dena

    OMG RIESE, YOU LOOK SO ADORABLE. I can’t stand it!

    Also this entire list is how I currently look in a blazer because I can’t find one to fit my boobs & shoulders simultaneously.

    • The boob+shoulder conundrum is so frustrating! My blazers end up fitting me like an unfortunate combination of Lurch& no. 6, Melissa Etheridge circa 1989.

  5. I really wasn’t expecting that picture of Riese at the end. It really pushed the list to a whole different level of awesome.

    • The Riese picture was my favorite part. Honestly, the Riese pictures are always my favorite part.

  6. Teapot

    Why, is there something more romantic than a lesbian wearing a blazer big enough for the both of you to build a home in to your first date?

    • Vanessa

      OK so I found this book online (thank you internet) and i did the test.
      I scored a 32

  7. I’m still giggling at this. Esp when I saw Rosie at #2 and thought, “that looks like Jodie when she won the Oscar in…” and then I hit #8 and said “oh.”

    The 90s were touching. A horror show, but touching.

    You look cute in your little blazer. I had to wear one everyday until I was 18 and turned out a homo and a lawyer too. So blazers are a staple of life where I’m from.

  8. Is it wrong that I kind of like that floral blazer in the JC Penney’s ad? If floral crop tops are back in, then floral blazers need to come back too.

    Although, upon a second look I realized that it looks exactly like my sofa upholstery so maybe not.

    • “it looks exactly like my sofa upholstery.”

      yep, this. I thought of one of my grandma’s old couches.

    • MB

      Yeah, I was thinking that “the lengths they go to for the look” would be breaking into Grandma’s house, stealing her curtains, and making blazers out of them.

    • I dig it, too. But I am not widely renowned for having anything resembling taste. I just like what I like. And what I like is flowery boy clothes.

  9. susan

    I still have my Irish hacking jacket with a monogram from a men’s shop…from many years ago….it is so tailored to my body …and I lusted after a great blazer and found it…it cost me a whole month’s pay…but is it worth it…all the men finger the Irish Tweed and the women put their hands in my pockets…hahahahahah..it matches my green eyes too…I was so lucky…great classy things NEVER go out of style…like kd lang…..

  10. Mel

    k.d. lang in her western applique blazer is the living embodiment of a Prairie Homo Companion.

  11. Please excuse me for a moment. Bernadette Peters is on Autostraddle. My life has meaning now.

  12. #6 is so bad that I thought there had been an unfortunate accident and Ethridge had tragically lost her hands

  13. I swear half those photos look like they’ve been photoshopped. Proportions in the 90’s, where were you?

  14. Also Caitlin

    Quality, quality journalism. These are things I want to see. I love this.

  15. YOU GUYS

    I’m a trans lesbian, not yet out for a number of complicated family reasons, who only fairly recently realised she was a lesbian. I have a lot of men’s blazers that I wear all the time because they’re one of the few kinds of men’s clothing I feel comfortable in. Anyway, articles like this make me feel like

  16. Erin

    I appreciate the amount of k.d. lang in this post :D Also the fashion doesn’t shock me so much as bring back fond nostalgic memories. I think there needs to be a part 2 of this series dedicated to VESTS. Equally as popular & gay in the 90s!

    • I second this! I rocked a lot of vests in middle school. And today.

    • I definitely wore a vest to a Melissa Etheridge concert on Smith’s campus in the mid 90s, as did many others in attendance

  17. Mia

    So many awesomely terrible/FANTASTIC 90’s blazers. Oh the 90’s, what a little rascal of a decade, so fascinating in so many ways.

  18. Riese’s photo pretty much won the entire list for me. Also, #4. There must be some sort of super warm lining in that blazer somewhere to wear one that giganto… a blazer duvet if you wil

  19. Cat

    I’m not even going to admit how many blazers I own. But it’s double figures. I’m not even ashamed.

  20. I love blazers so very much. I only watch “That Sex Show” on Logo to see what amazing blazer Heidi Hamilton is wearing each night.

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  22. Does anyone else think that 90s JC Penny ad is super gay? I love it, even if the pattern IS terrible. :D

    • i actually snagged it from my Homoerotic 90s Badvertising folder
      so, yes

  23. For the record, I have to say that I would DEFINITELY wear a sweatshirt/blazer combo.

  24. black engagement rings

    I am lucky that I identified this web weblog, precisely the proper data that I was looking for!

  25. Emily

    Is it wrong that I kind of love Lily Tomlin’s blazer? It’s fabulous, and I need it.

  26. x

    This is gold. Thank you for bringing it back around.

  27. I’m still loving that Jodie Foster combo.

    That JC Penny model experienced the Angelina Jolie leg debacle 30 years earlier!

  28. Fun Fact: As a teenager in the early 90’s, before I even imagined myself as a lesbian, I loooooved blazers. So much. Still do, but I get overheated too quickly to wear them much.

    Also I remember being utterly fascinated by the Vanity Fair cover of k.d. lang and Cindy Crawford, with k.d. in menswear (I swear she was wearing a blazer in my memory, but I just googled it and apparently not?). I somehow knew I wanted to be k.d. lang, but didn’t understand why.

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