FEMME OPEN THREAD: We Want Your Femme-Focused Fashion Feels

Word on the street is that y’all femmes want to see more coverage in the style department. We’re gonna make that happen!

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A few examples of past coverage in the femme dept.!


Hi, I’m Looking for the Femme Section

Although Autostraddle’s fashion editors have always been femme-of-center, our style content has often focused more on masculine-of-center styles because queer websites are uniquely qualified to provide that kind of information. Mainstream fashion isn’t especially interested in butch swimwearfinding the perfect (cheap) suit for a non-cis-male body or how to shop in the boy’s section as a petite genderqueer. We’ll keep doing that, of course.

But we also need to accept that fashion for straight women ≠ fashion for femmes. It’s crucial to give femmes the same space and respect for what they put on their bodies as we do our masculine-of-center or more androgynous readers.

We can all agree that it takes strength and bravery to embody who we are through the clothing we wear. Femmes, especially younger femmes, need to know that coming out is not synonymous with tamping down the spark of femininity. Femme is about taking that spark, nurturing it into a fire, and then fanning the damn flames until a brand new kind of femininity rises up from the ashes.

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Photo Credit: Photographer Molly Landreth via Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America

The Femme Buddy System

And even when that happens, the glorious and grueling work of being femme is never-ending. Self-acceptance and coming out endlessly are two sides of the same coin, but that’s what it costs us to be seen.

It’s part of who we are. We work constantly to wrestle ourselves away from the gross male gaze in a cruel heteronormative world full of patriarchal bullshit while simultaneously striving to be our best and shiniest, most uncompromising femme selves. Being femme almost always means existing in a strange twilight of invisibility. It can get, frankly, lonesome as hell. There are no easy solutions or remedies for it. Society likes to troll femininity hard. Everyone knows that. Add being queer, or trans, or a woman of color, or having a disability into the mix and the stakes for simply leaving the house start to skyrocket. But the thing is, loneliness kills. We need each other.

Femmes may always feel just a little like outsiders in both straight and queer spaces, but I’ll tell you what: We don’t take camaraderie for granted. Even if we’re running on fumes, we will take our last ounce of energy to make sure another femme feels seen, or help her up when she’s down.

If being at the helm of a space carved out for femmes for eight years has taught me anything, it’s this: We’d be lost without each other. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we still get lost. Permanently.

Y’all? I don’t want to lose any more beautiful femmes.

Don’t Just Stand There, SHINE

I’ve talked about Fit for a Femme being a kind of lighthouse, and now I want to make a bigger, better lighthouse right here, for every femme. So tell us what you want, what you need, tell us what your high hopes are and we’ll do our best to be here for you.

Calling All Femmes!

Help us better understand the kind of femme style coverage you'd like to see at Autostraddle.

Final note for non-femme identified style enthusiasts who want in on the style suggestion action: We’ll introduce a YNH style form (similar to the beauty one we launched last week) moving forward that you’ll be able to use to ask for the style coverage you want, so keep an eye out for it!

Y’all are always welcome to email me for any style/beauty needs or special requests at aja@autostraddle.com.

Aja Aguirre is a perpetual late bloomer from SF who writes about style, fashion and beauty for Autostraddle. Her award-nominated style blog, Fit for a Femme, takes on both coasts' signature styles and draws on her experience as a personal stylist. Check out Instagram for her latest looks, and Twitter or Tumblr for QPOC Speakeasy x Femme Power vibes.

Aja has written 45 articles for us.

175 Comments

  1. -It’s part of who we are. We work constantly to wrestle ourselves away from the gross male gaze in a cruel heteronormative world full of patriarchal bullshit while simultaneously striving to be our best and shiniest, most uncompromising femme selves. Being femme almost always means existing in a strange twilight of invisibility. It can get, frankly, lonesome as hell.-

    This. This. This. It really is such a struggle.

    But I really am I’m super excited to see what comes out of this! Thank you!

  2. I wish there were more femme clothes for nonbinary people. Femme clothes that fit people with narrow hips and flat chests and broad shoulders, as well as panties, skirts, and dresses that are accommodating for trans women and transfeminine people. For DFABs, dresses and skirts that don’t emphasize an hourglass figure or breasts, dresses and feminine tank tops that work with binders. High heels, pumps, flats, and sandals for trans women, since they apparently tend to have bigger feet than cis women.

    • good point!i tried on this cute dress and there was waaaayyyy more boob than i ever wanted and it made me want to scream. i don’t know if you’re looking for advice but i typically get “men’s” t-shirts from trendy places where it’ll have a slim fit but not be tight af as a lot of “women’s” shirts are…also American Apparel because some of the crop tops are ~flowy~ also recommend dog-dog for internet shopping! the tops are cut nicely! also, i’m AFAB&agender and would like to know about jeans that don’t emphasize my thighs and butt but can also fit my small hips

  3. i’m femme and dress modestly as a form of religious observance – i feel doubly invisible because when i read ~religious~, other queers tend to give me a wide berth

    i dress the way i do because it reflects my desires, my religious connection, makes me feels safe and my identity as a Jewish woman and a part of the Jewish people but it also marks me well outside of my other community!

    • There’s another idea: fashion specifically for religious femmes! I’d love to see dupattas, lehengas, tichels, hijabs, niqabs, dikhlos, veils, burqas, abayas, chador, salwar kameez, chaniya choli, kurta, khimar, or al-Amira. They could be printed with the colors of different pride flags.

      • The South Asian stuff you name (dupattas, lehengas, salwhar kahmeez, etc) aren’t particularly religious: South Asians of varying religions – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, atheist, whatever – wear them.

        If they’re going to be printed with pride-flag stuff it’s going to need to be subtle, since there would be a huge uproar over a hijab that looked too “gay” for example.

    • Ooh. I tend to go for more modest/covering clothing and constantly think about how my clothing would fit religious standards despite that not being the reason for it. I love finding ways to be modest without looking conservative. Maxi dresses and maxi skirts are great!! I’ve lately been loving a loose, flowing maxi dress and cardigan. EShakti is great because you can customize clothing (so it has sleeves, the neckline you want, etc). I’ve definitely gotten inspiration from Mormon “hipster mommy blogs” too like Love Taza.

    • yes!!! hard femme is a style I definitely identify with. most days, it’s a little sleeker and sharper (also darker bcs I own a lot of black & other dark colors)– I have a few boards on pinterest that I’m growing to explore via a lookbook situation, but it’s hard to find hard femme style out in the world…

      • It can look like that? For me personally, it took years to feel like I had a home in femme, because people have been quick to code my behavior and appearance as butch or masculine, partially because fat femmes have not always been super visible or celebrated, and partially because I have been a loud forward babe for a long time and people have been quick to read me as masculine for most of my life. And to me hard femme feels like incorporating the parts of me that feel like tough hard edges and articulating them in a way that is deeply femme. It’s a little bit about doing femme in a way that doesn’t necessarily strive to be pretty- which lots of femmes do powerfully and beautifully- but my femme is different, yknow? There’s room for all of us. And on a practical level it means I wear more pencil skirts than a-lines and lots of boots, and it helps that my pretty sundresses make my big tattooes more visible. So for me, that’s what that means.

          • sometimes? more about telegraphing less cuteness. nothing wrong with cute, but given that I am a curvy femme who does emotional labor professionally and does twee shit like knit and bake, I also have a strong desire to communicate badassery and boundaries and take-no-shit visually.

            I sometimes feel like as a fat femme my style options are to wear fit and flare dresses covered in cupcakes, and that feels really limiting to me, personally.

        • I love that you point out the visible tattoos as part of it. I have a shaved head and a few tattoos that are pretty big, so I really feel the boots and pretty sundresses that show off those tattoos and play around what articulating femme looks like.

      • Clicked the link because I <3 both Natalie Dormer and hard femme (I reckon she's rocking a more tomboy femme look in those photos, my understanding of hard femme is like teerexington says really femme but in a hard as glitter nails way, femme as razor-sharp stilleto knife against the patriarchy) – but so ugh, extreme misogyny drips from every sentence: "She plays the attention-hogging Margaery Tyrell whose need for power sees her end up in prison in Game Of Thrones" fuck off fuck off Margaery ended up in prison for defending her gay brother, not because powerful women always get their comeuppance, aaargh

    • Yes!!! I absolutely want to see more fashion discussion of the different offshoots of femme, especially hard femme and tomboy femme. I feel alienated in butch spaces because I so strongly don’t identify as butch, but in femme spaces I see such a disproportionate lean towards aspects of traditionally feminine styles – dresses and skirts, and flower prints, and bright colors – that I start to feel left out there too.

      I don’t feel comfortable walking out the door unless I’m wearing dark clothes, jeans, combat boots, leather jackets, and loose-fitting shirts. I’d like to see femme style conversations that incorporate those things, too.

  4. I love this. I remember when I was first starting to come out to myself (let alone anyone else) I went through a phase of wearing plain wool sweaters with jeans and chucks (aka what 90% of all people wear anyway) because it was so much less femme than what I normally wore and I was, in my head, longing for someone to look at me and be all “your swagger and your bearing, and those just right clothes that you’re wearing…heyyyyy are you gay? Would you like to admit it to yourself?”

    I actually don’t know where I’m going with this but definitely thumbs up to everything and all suggestions <3

  5. small-fat nonbinary femme checking in to say YES to more femme coverage and to ask for fat representation in every post, and not just 1 outfit out of 6. It’s a lot harder for fats to do style so if anything I would love to be overrepresented just to make up for the lack of coverage elsewhere and the lack of stores I can really shop at. Also a focus on affordability/DIY shit because again, affordable fashionable clothes are so inaccessible and I’m 25 and I when I go to the club I don’t really want to wear some $90 full-coverage Lane Bryant dress…

  6. YES TO ALL OF THIS. My style & gender presentation got more feminine after I came out, and this is something I’m continually navigating. I’d never heard of Fit For a Femme before, so it’s already been helpful.

  7. Love this! I’m always trying to pull off a seemingly-impossible combo of “high femme style that has an element of seduction but no appeal to the male gaze whatsoever” and the closest I’ve come is appropriating the genderfuckery of certain drag queens or else going whole-hog Earthy 90s Dyke to the point where no one knows how I identify. The Man Repeller was a serious formative influence for me but that’s for straight women. … It’s a problem.

    • JUST YES. Also I’m fat and if I get mad femme I’m met with all this straight aggression like I’m trying too hard to get some boys. The other day I was asking for a program to some dudes at a race course and as they walked away one said “If you were hot, I would have given it to you” like wHaaaatTTT

      • Oh my god that’s awful. There’s something about fat femmes existing in public that seems to bring out the worst in people. I’m sort of fat but on the small side and in the “right” places so I am lucky enough to avoid fat phobia for the most part.

        It’s almost like some types of femme presentations are actually hyper visible in straight spaces. I’m not sure how but some straight men seem to have an uncanny ability to find the one queer woman in a room full of straight women, and harass her.

        In queer spaces I’ve noticed fat femmes often get pegged as fag hags, even if they’re with they’re there with queer women and not gay men.

    • “High femme style that has an element of seduction but no appeal to the male gaze whatsoever”

      I’ve been thinking about how to pull something akin to this as well. My style alternates from slightly gothic femme to metalhead butch (and I play around with styles in between). I don’t know if hair dye is your thing, but I saw one femme oriented blog that suggested dying your hair bright colors or buzzing some of your hair like this https://www.pinterest.com/pin/549579960756599764/ From what I was reading on this blog, being more bold in your hair or makeup choices helps get the message across to other queers. I also saw on this other (stupid and patriarchal) blog where this guy had reasons to stay away from women with dyed hair and two of those reasons where “most likely a liberal/feminist” and “chance of being pansexual/bisexual and/or sex positive.” If that’s the message I give to assholes like the aforementioned guy because of my jet black/platinum purple buzzed hair then I’m totally cool with that.

  8. Not a femme, but just writing to say this makes me very happy to see–I love how so many different parts of the queer community make their spaces big and open, and I look forward to reading the series!

  9. I love love love that this is going to be A Thing!! Embracing my sexuality was much easier for me than figuring out any sort of gender expression and presentation. It’s been a long, slow (sometimes painful) process of reconciling with my femininity and figuring out what it means to be a femme queer weirdo, so I’m so excited to see more posts, ESPECIALLY fashion related, to explore this.
    Like, I have some feminine and fashionable straight friends who are ladies, but… they don’t get in the same way as my, like, two femme friends do.

    • There is a research paper by Karen Lyndsay Blair and Rhea Ashley Hoskin called “Experiences of Femme Identity: Coming Out, Invisibility & Femmephobia,” and it’s a really amazing and long overdue work. You should check it out if you can. (And if you’re not sure, call your public library and ask.)

  10. YES I agree with Kayla!!! As a trans woman and a femme, I’d love to see more articles about femme fashions for trans women! maybe you and the trans editor could collaborate on putting those things together??

  11. Femmes supporting and loving femmes, I love it! There’s an element of invisibility and as a gq person there’s some lots of misgendering when I am visible, blah. But reading about and being there for other femmes gets me through it. Love yall.

  12. Lazy femme and/or occasional tomboy femme here. Here and kind of confused by my own feelings!

    I’m gonna explore them a bit here and Aja if you wanna ignore this it’s fine because this is just about my shit 🙂

    I tend to avoid femme “beauty,” style, and fashion columns, even on AS, because I find them triggering.

    Like what about somebody writing about eyeshadow is triggering for me? Sometimes I *wear* eyeshadow, and that’s fine…

    Certainly it has to do with the passage @natacha quoted above — certainly it’s about the patriarchy, and growing up reading Seventeen and Delia*s catalogs, and feeling I wasn’t going to be worthy of a guy’s time because I had visible pores, basically (lol). Certainly it’s about that indelible link between ‘beauty’ and being desired, and that false conflation of being desired and being worthy/valid/real. And now, surely it’s part of that weird dance I don’t yet know how to do — balancing my desire to dress “pretty” sometimes with the clearly increased attention it brings from cis men. When I dress in Converse and a t-shirt and jeans, I fly under their radar. When I wear a dress, I don’t. And when I do get their attention — oh, lord, is that an emotional mixed bag. I feel validated and valid, less safe, frustrated with myself. That is what a dress does to me. That is what lipstick does to me. Can I work my shit out when this is still the world we live in?

    Tl:dr – Columns about this stuff that I will actually read don’t conflate “beauty” with “skincare” (i.e. if it’s a skincare product, or make-up, don’t call it a beauty product), are fat girl inclusive, big boob inclusive, and of course, misandrist 😉

  13. I’m not sure exactly what to call this, but tips for fashion that is a) femme-ish, b) queer, and c) something I can wear to work.

    I feel guilty for writing this, but to me it seems like a lot of queer fashion can be really non-conformist, and that’s wonderful but it’s just not me. I am a shy, conflict-avoidant tomboy femme, and I don’t want to rock any boats with my clothes. How do I look queer, femme, and professional at the same time?

    • Yessss I am currently figuring out both my own style and how to modify it for work – I joke a lot that my gender presentation is “business queer” but I would love more ideas for that!

    • Yes, this! I work from home but travel for business a few times a year into conservative (business formal) spaces, and I am always uncomfortable trying to incorporate work appropriate looks without smothering my queer, femme self.

      Maybe the answer is channeling Bette from the L Word, queen of power suits?

    • Oh man, I feel that so hard. I work in a pretty conservative industry, and it’s so weird that most fashion columns cater to relatively infrequent events (beach day looks, first date outfits, etc when I’m just going about my life at the grocery store most days) and that almost everything is “weekend wear”, even though I wanna feel good about my outfits everyday, not just on weekends.
      Also! I’m working at a lab in Bermuda this summer and have no clue how to achieve professional, closed toed shoes for lab safety, and appropriate for island summers without A/C all in one work wardrobe, ya know?

      • YO I worked in a bio lab in New Orleans for a summer and learned a whole lot about balancing fashion, lab safety, and sauna-like climates!

        Loose cotton pants, maxi dresses, and maxi skirts are my favorite way to go. Depending on the lab, if you’re already going to be wearing a lab coat for sensitive procedures, you can get away with just a tank top. If you’re doing something like cell culturing where sleeves are bad, this is ideal. If you do need sleeves for whatever reason, keep a *very* lightweight cotton sweater around to toss on when you need it- for me, that was when I had to refill the cryo containers.

        You’re going to want to wear as much white as possible, for heat reflection reasons. Floppy hats and cute sunglasses (and sunscreen, of course!) are important if you’re going to be outside.

        For shoes, I’m a fan of ballet flats and keds, which provide coverage without trapping too much heat. If you actually need protection from heavy things dropping on your feet though, I’d try something sturdier. (Do steel-toe ankle boots exist?)

        And of course, top knots and ponytails and cute braids and lots of bobby pinning and barettes will both keep your hair under control despite the humidity, off the back of your neck, and safely out of the way of your experiments.

        Good luck, and have fun!

    • Yes I agree! I’m in a creative field where I could dress really non-conformist if I wanted to, but TBH I just love a crisp and clean classic sort of look. I want to be visible as femme but also true to myself, shaving half my head (for example) just isn’t “me”. I tend to go pretty bold with my makeup, make unusual shoe choices, and keep my hair pretty short but that’s about it.

  14. Is it pretty standard for wlw to identify somewhere along the butch/femme spectrum? Are there fashion posts for people who don’t identify as either?

  15. Also bright/pastel/candy colored hair (it’s the femme faux hawk of hair) how to do it, take care of it, wear with it. Retro fashions through the decades. Also finding stylish glasses (male gaze repellant accessories). Burlesque and drag. rockabilly, goth and other alternative subcultures. Also how to do super stealthy femme fashion for church, corporate jobs, family picnics. Mentioned this earlier, but femme fashion in a variety of jobs and fields.

  16. Also bright/pastel/candy colored hair (it’s the femme faux hawk of hair) how to do it, take care of it, wear with it. Retro fashions through the decades. Also finding stylish glasses (male gaze repellant accessories). Burlesque and drag. rockabilly, goth and other alternative subcultures. Also how to do super stealthy femme fashion for church, corporate jobs, family picnics.

  17. I would also love to see someone write about the intersection of femme and disability, chronic illness and femme presentation…. basically how do you make your femme work when you have like, zero spoons.

  18. Seriously?!? Am I the only femme BISEXUAL girl that reads Autostraddle??? I was genuinely surprised to see this post start out by using the phrase “the gross male gaze”. Ummm, excuse me? I’m a huge fan of “the gross male gaze”. I’m also a huge fan of what might be just as easily and offensively be labeled as “the gross butch gaze” somewhere else. Not cool. Last time I checked, Autostraddle was neither the He-Man Woman Haters Club OR the She-Woman Man Haters Club. Or am I going to be locked out of the Femme Club now, too, because I’m bi, along with the usual “you’re not lesbian enough to understand” exclusions?

    • I am also bisexual.

      Not all male gazes are gross but there definitely is an institutionalized and sexist version of the male gaze that is, in fact, gross. (Ex. – the ones who thing that girls who are bi are sooooo hot.)

    • Whoa, holy defensive, friend. I’m bisexual and have done enough reading (on this website and in other sources) to understand that the “male gaze”, as it’s understood in various spheres of academic theory, is a unilateral way of treating women as decorative objects meant to conform to one normative standard of beauty. And a lot of the time, that concept IS pretty effin’ gross.

      It doesn’t mean, having a dude look at you automatically = ew gross.

  19. Part of the way I practice my intersectional feminism is by buying sustainable, fair trade goods as much as possible. (I realize that’s not an option for everyone for a variety of reasons, but it works for me.) I would love to see more articles on ethical fashion!

  20. I love this! Can there be trans-femme-focused posts? I know that I’ve always struggled with finding femme packing underwear (why can’t I have a hot pink lace jockstrap that actually holds shit together?? Why???) and while there are a lot of body/dysphoria solutions for dfab transmasc people, there isn’t usually much for anyone else.

  21. So, this is femme style insofar as it involves clothing on a femme. But I really want a shirt that says FEMME IS FANTASTIC because I have been reading waaaaaay too many things about early LGBTQ rights recently. (Can there ever be too many reads?) Like, something in a ridiculously elaborate font. I even Googled “femme is fantastic” (with quotes for phrase searching) and came up with NOTHING.

    (It’s a response to Kameny’s GAY IS GOOD. Alliteration ftw.)

    I wrote more substantive stuff in the poll comments, but I first saw this post on my way to a smoothie happy hour and was overcome with excitement.

  22. hi everybody! i’m thinking more and more about this and aja’s “Beauty Box” and feeling more and more vulnerable but like am I crazy? am i the only person who feels awful about calling skincare/fashion/style stuff “beauty” stuff like aja (and other writers who write about what she writes about) does? like i get that words have different meanings and here it is shorthand for skincare or makeup or even fashion, i do get that, but then there’s another part of me that is like, if mascara is what makes me beautiful, that’s not a world i want to live in.

    ugh i’m sorry i don’t know why i’m having this day. it’s fine. it’s all fine. i will just stay away from these columns since obviously a really normal thing is so triggering for me. and i don’t know why what is usually a pet peeve suddenly makes me want to cry, lol.

    anyway, you know me, i’m not mad about it, i clearly need to work out my shit around femininity in therapy, but just like, why can’t we call it skincare? why can’t we call it make-up? Does my face powder make me beautiful?

    Hehe ok now i am going to go crawl in a hole because i’m not usually like this on AS

      • nooo don’t be sorry. while obviously it works fine for some people, beauty is a loaded word. honestly i’ve found it a little alienating, too. i’m super interested in things like skincare, but i’m super not interested in “beauty.”

    • No, I agree with you.

      I don’t think beauty box has to mean “you need this to be beautiful” but could be “stuff that makes you feel beautiful” but that would be more interesting if stuff that isn’t usually included in that category was talked about.

    • @queergirl
      First: don’t feel bad, you’re awesome, everyone has shit that gets to them sometimes, don’t feel bad! <3

      Okay, so. I don't mind this use of "beauty" personally, but perhaps "aesthetics" could be a viable alternative? It's a bit clunky but it definitely covers all the visual things–makeup and hair style tutorial sorta things, makeup/hair products? But it really doesn't cover skincare, which is more about health stuff than visuals, to me?? I don't know. I think it's useful to have a catch all skincare/makeup category, if just for brevity's sake.

  23. I’m a fat femme who isn’t interested in vintage, victory rolls, or fat positive crop tops so I feel sort of… lost eh? I also have tiny boobs and am monstrously short. Never get femme advice on being tiny of both height and breast.

  24. I realized that all suggestions were about the femme lifestyle/personal essays etc and not so much style but I just want more femme coverage full stop. I think that every comment has a great idea. I want to read it all!

    • It would be neat to have a femme sexuality round table (love to have a dialogue between femme4butch and femme4femme communities) or a genderfeelings round table: femme edition.

      Or even just a whole piece on genderqueer and trans femmes who remain INSANELY underrepresented although I think ppl are trying a little harder than they used to.

      I dream of more femme spaces to talk about themselves with each other– I feel like everything we do is about other people, either in our relationships or the community and activism work so many of us do. Our styles and work projects are cool but let’s talk self care and emotional labor and intersectional femme community issues too, if we can.

      PS I follow so many femme blogs who address the above topics, let me know if you need directions to these folx

  25. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. I identify as femme, but in a loose “lazy femme/low maintenance femme” kind of way. I don’t wear makeup or do “beauty” stuff, I do all my shopping at thrift stores, and I’d rather be naked than wear clothing, pretty much all the time. I didn’t feel comfortable claiming the term “femme” until recently, when AS came out with those Tomboy Femme & Lazy Femme t-shirts and I was like “YES THAT’S ME.” more of that, please!

  26. Also, every single one if you reading this is beautiful.

    Yes, even you.

    Yes, even on those days.

    You are the embodiment of beauty, your body carries you within it, whatever battles are going on within, without, or with it. You are expressed through it, and you are beautiful beautiful beautiful.

    Thank you for your beauty, thank you for sharing it with me, with all of us <3

  27. NERD FEMME. Stuff that geeks would like to wear. Her Universe, Disneybounding and similar, even kintype Tumblrs would have resources on how to channel both femme and your favourite character/fandom/nerdery.

    Also I have SO MUCH FEELS around how Western-normative “femme” fashion is. What y’all call femme I call “the women in my family tree”, but we wouldn’t be pegged as femme because we’re too ethnic – unless maybe you want to exotify us or something. And ARGH I HATE HATE HATE “I’m so femme I don’t wear pants” like hello come to Asia where quite a few typically feminine outfits involve trousers!

    So much of femme fashion – particularly the stuff that gets people noticed and heralded as Femme Role Models or whatever – tends to follow very specific molds: vintage/rockabilly, Alternative Lifestyle Haircuts, non-natural hair colours, spikes, lots of brightness and glitter, SKULLS. Which is great, but gets pretty repetitive after a while. I’d like to see a wider range of “femme” that wasn’t the same tropes over and over.

    • I agree. Lot’s of tropes. But those did not start out that way. Edgy and new eventually becomes cliche and dated…dolphins, amethyst, those labryses were all the new big thing at one time. So it is good to give voices to observations of trends of visibility as they evolve and to keep track. These things evolve, but they also recycle. Like star tattoos on the wrist and pink triangles.

    • Agreed about needing more variety in femme. I do hope that those articles, if they get written, include some context about the cultures they cover. Like, how much is butch/femme sort of specific to Western queer culture? Does imposing that framework erase specific identities and expressions in other cultures?

      Idk, I hope this reads as agreement and also a call for depth not criticism.

  28. This is such a great idea though. I would totally wear makeup and feminine styles if it didn’t make me disappear socially into the gender stereotypes / gender roles that have ZERO to do with me, and make me feel like people didn’t actually see me how I really am, and want to be seen. Even dressing as masculine as possible, I still can’t get away from that shit. (Biggest disappointment ever was after chopping off all my hair, I got MORE attention from clueless straight dudes instead of less uggggggggh.) I will totally be reading this column series for hints on how to reclaim feminine styles without turning into a heterosexual lady in other ppl’s eyes.

    Also I lovvvvve the pics for this article so much.

  29. Super high femme here. Can’t wait to see some more femme fashion coverage on AS. Or more femme coverage on all topics, really.

    I just zero’d in on fashion because it was the topic of this article and because when I was first coming out, AS articles about dressing femme that Lizz used to write were so helpful for me to feel a part of a community and figure out how to telegraph as “queer” without having to wear androgynous or butch clothing that didn’t feel comfortable to me.

    Anyway, I love your make up/ skincare column and I’m sure I will love whatever this column turns into or whatever other type of femme articles might come in the future!

    (I also have to add- Femme of Color coverage! I’m sure you’d have this covered already Aja, since you are really cognizant about it already in the make up articles, but still it has to be said.)

  30. I would definitely be interested in reading more first person stuff on this topic, and I also love clothes so much that I will read anything about fashion. I definitely feel like I get a lot of judgement/backhanded comments from other queers for the styles or brands I choose to wear, so I would love more conversation about that because I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this. When people say everyone should wear whatever they want to feel comfortable, I just really want that to also include me with my dresses.

  31. Also, I don’t care what anyone says, I’m like 10 years too old to be wearing a crop top in public. The same with sweatpants or whatever those dressy pants that are shaped like sweatpants are called. I want to see fashion stuff for femmes with normal stuff that I could actually wear on a daily basis.

    • Yes, fashion for different age groups (written by people in those age groups) would be great. I get the impression that a lot of astraddle fashion is for the 18-35 group. Articles for middle age and elderly femmes. Married and divorced femmes. Femmes with kids. Trans femmes and more trans women in general.

  32. I would love to see posts about how to feel femme when you don’t have a genteel paper-pushing job (and aren’t a student.) I work at a day care. I crawl on the floor and get spit up on. I would love to wear a pencil skirt every day but I very seriously cannot. What about femmimg up horrible work uniforms? I’ve had those too.

    • Preschool teacher here too. I feel you! Over the years I’ve femme’d up my awful uniforms by focusing on makeup, earrings, nice hair and cute ballet flats (though my feet are gonna collapse when I’m older). Its easy to feel hella frumpy but if you’re into that kind of thing, it helps!

      I second this emotion. AS did one article I can remember on fashion when you wear a uniform. And I got way too excited.

        • Earrings are brave for your age range! The 8 month old I watch seems to not notice my medium-sized hoops. I don’t even try other jewelry, which was such a big part of my identity! I can still wear rings, although I bumped her little head with my brass ring this week and she did NOT appreciate it. Maybe focus on nice hair? My bebe is still very grabby but by 12 months they should be better about that!

    • I work in childcare too! I’m an in-home nanny for an infant and have been wearing regurgitated breastmilk pants all day today, because I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s hard to find femme clothing that is childcare-appropriate and also feels like me. Like, can I hold a baby in one arm and with the other arm, take down my high waisted pants to pee? No? Well, guess it’s leggings again today, buster.

    • Another early childhood educator here! I’ve got 2-3s. My go to for femme looks in the classroom are t-shirt dresses with leggings. They’re stretchy and comfy and you can sit on the floor just fine.

  33. ALSO, my kingdom for a good roundup of large band size / small cup size bras that are actually cute and comfortable! I’m really proud of my muscles, but years of serious workouts have made me a 40B and it is IMPOSSIBLE to find good bras. From what I understand, a lot of AMAB folks also fall into this boat, so I think an article would be well-received.

  34. Yes to this! Totally did the baby-gay-needs-to-be-butch thing like 15 years ago when I came out. Soon enough, though, I realized how much I missed makeup brushes and curling irons and pink sparkles (not that these things all mean femme, but for me, they do!) and I went back to being true to myself. However, now I’m in my early thirties and I have recently been thinking really hard about queering my look a little, while still being true to my femme self. So… this seems super perfect and I’m looking forward to it!

    Also that line about feeling a little like outsiders in straight and queer spaces… all the feels, man. That is super me. Glad I’m not alone.

  35. I’d love to see some content on being femme and nonbinary/genderqueer, and just a general deconstruction of androgyny as defaulting to masculine. Also low-effort, comfortable femme style!

  36. Added as a request that I would love to see femme fashion around the world. How is femme fashion interpreted in for example India, Sweden or Brazil?
    From personal experience, a dress (any dress) is pretty much a ladygay invisibility cloak in Sweden. A statement patterned top with solid colored harem pants and killer cat eyeliner is more of a queer beacon here.

  37. I know it might be hard/a niche audience – but I’d love to see some stuff about femme fashion in countries other than the US. This is partly selfish (as someone who is UK based and doesn’t wanna pay for far away shipping) but also it might be cool to see what some other countries are coming up with style wise from people who maybe live there?

  38. Would love to see more DIY, sewing, knitting etc. articles for making or modifying clothes.

    Also, make-up for people of colour. I’m from the UK where makeup choices for people of colour is finally becoming easier to find, but now I live in Germany where there are literally only 3 shades of concealer and they’re all a variation on “Porzellan”.

  39. I love this so much – this is why I adore autostraddle! I agree with people above about:
    – plus size femme clothing
    – clothes/’beauty’ advice for busy femmes
    – ethical/fair trade clothing
    – affordable fashion

    I’d also throw in:
    – being femme and disabled
    – vegan/cruelty free fashion/’beauty’
    – how to feel confident/positive about your body
    – some kind of ode to femmes from ladies all over the gender presentation spectrum
    – intersections/discussion around being femme, queer, and feminist

    You are all the best! 🙂

    • Yes, I’m definietly interested in learning more about ethical fashion. I haven’t been good about it so far, I admit that – the majority of my clothes are inexpensive and mass procduced in developing countries where I highly doubt the employees are making a living wage. I’d like to start being more mindlful about how my clothing and make-up were produced, and learn to avoid brands that harm people and/or animals.

  40. Things I would really like to see:
    – A concrete breakdown of the different offshoots / shades of fashion that exist under and outside of the butch/femme archetypes
    – Fashion guides aimed at those offshoots!
    – Fashion for femme women who don’t like to show off their bodies (ex. I have horrible dermatillomania/trichotillomania and hate letting anyone see my legs if I can help it).
    – How to find fashion inspo from mainstream straight-leaning fashion sources
    – How to shop in the men’s section for curvy femme women
    – Something about women who straddle the weird line between thin and plus size? And by weird I mean, because the industry is weird, and sometimes I fit into medium sizes and sometimes I fit into 1X sizes, and I don’t know how to shop for bras outside of expensive retail brand name stores like Soma or Victoria’s Secret because as far as I can tell I’m too small to fit into plus size brands but too big to be able to easily shop for bras at Target or department stores.
    – Alternative swimwear options for femme women who don’t feel comfortable either in mainstream men’s or women’s swimwear.

  41. I kind of feel jealous that everyone here appears to knows where they fit in. Femmes know that they are femmes and know what they would like to wear. Personally, I feel like you guys rock what ever clothes you wear and should have more options on clothing/accessories. I just grab whatever is on clearance and fits decently. I am curious to see what articles will come out of this. More importantly, I like the idea of all of you being happy. 🙂

    How about some fashion advice for girls on a budget or some DIY accessories?

      • I have no idea where I fall, and lately it’s been taking me a long time to decide what to wear (a flowy skirt with boxer briefs? a suit and hoop earrings? button-down, yellow jacket from my little sister’s closet, jeans, big belt, and purple riding boots?), hence why I’m late in commenting since I wasn’t sure whether it made sense for me to join this conversation. My apologies if I turn out to be an interloper in this space. Could we perhaps have an explanation or discussion of what femme means?

  42. YASSS to this.

    In Vancouver they have (used to have? 🙁 It’s over now, boo) what’s called ‘femme city choir’ and it’s a super rad, gender-diverse group of amazing femmes. They sing ROBYN, guyz. And Tegan & Sara, obviously (among other things). It was the first queer femme space I had heard of and it made my heart sing.

    Anyway, just here to say I’m all over this. Thank you!!!

  43. I’m excited about this! I’d like less focus on fashion, more on personal stories. Let’s talk about why you identify as femme, femme invisibility (and hypervisibility, particularly for AMAB femmes), the power of femme friendship.

    I’d also appreciate some advice on how to look office-appropriate while rejecting heteronormative expectations. How can I look professional (and femme) while not shaving or wearing makeup/heels/bras?

    • Shiny ankle boots for non-heels professional footwear.
      Opaque leggings etc for the unshaven legs.

      I don’t know if that’s cute enough for you tho.
      And if I get on polyvore I’ll rabbit hole and not a mind reader so. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        • Alright then. 🙂

          Well when not boot weather you can try dressy sandals

          Key word to not high heeled dressy sandals is “supportive”
          Supportive dressy sandals.
          Aerosoles have some, but it’s one of those things you have to look for or buy orthopedic-ish brands.

          • Well now I kinda want a post where people ask you what kind of shoes go well with their style / for practical purposes and you answer all of it with spot on advice 😀

  44. also also also — HAIRY FEMMES. I love my body hair and I love the idea of being super high femme with hairy legs and armpits, but sometimes I still get discouraged when all the femme fashions I like are modeled on hairless bodies and, shit, even all the femmes in the butch/femme erotica I read seem to have shaved legs. Even just a hairy femme celebration post with photo submissions would be appreciated. Bearded femmes, cis and trans, would be a fabulous addition too.

    • Yes, this. I like shaving my legs but not my underarms and just seeing other people with visible body hair in femme clothing makes me feel braver and more comfortable with myself. I have a whole section of my wardrobe now with longer sleeves for when I have to fit in a more conservative environment.

    • Yes!!! I would love to see more hairy femmes represented. As a person who dresses all across the spectrum and has a penchant for ultra femme vintage styles, I often feel like I am ruining the look somehow with my hairy legs and pits. It is a constant internal battle where I have to remind myself that my hair is perfect whether I’m in a dress or a button down.

  45. Yes!!! I identify as queer and probably would be classified as femme. Lately I feel like I’ve been presenting as super hetero and it’s frustrating all around, because my interest in cis-men is at a record low. I’m gayer than ever but I’m received as straighter than ever. Not sure what I’m doing to signal that but I am so happy to have found this community & this thread!

  46. I’d love to see stuff that’s focused on developing a personal style and not on style “trends” or fast fashion. Avoiding stuff that’s really of the moment and will look dated next year is the only way I know of to do clothing on a budget without buying terrible quality sweatshop-made junk. I want style role models who I can imitate through thrifting and buying a few expensive, long-lasting basics.

    Also femme button-up shirts. There are a billion articles about butch and “androgynous” shirts and how to buy men’s shirts but I like my defined waist and I don’t want to wear something that has to be a shapeless sack to cover my boobs and hips. Give me all the darts and princess seams, please!

  47. When I came out almost five years ago, my first quest was to “look” the part. I am not a MOC or andro lady. I definitely sport some ties but take more style tips from Prince…a la…tight suit, tie, and heels. I LOVE lipstick, bows, lace, and everything girly. So what was a newly out, 28 year old with two kids to do? I cut off my beautiful, waist-length hair. As the locks fell to the floor, I was consumed with excitement and sadness. Would I be noticed NOW? Sadly, it has been years with my pixie cut but I still go unseen. I work for a bank so I have to dress in a highly professional manner. People just assume that I am of the straight orientation. The worst is when a beautiful butch will walk in, we will have a great conversation, and I will be working hard to figure out a way to tell her, only to have her be shocked when I can sneak that into the conversation. The instant dismissal is so hard to swallow some days and that pain is so deep. One day, I may tattoo a rainbow on my forehead.

  48. I’d like to see an exploration of femme outside of the standard dichotomy. Yes I’m girly, but it’s more nuanced than that. I’m a geeky gamer and there’s a trick to showing my femme without distancing myself from that community. All those issues about being a “fake” geek/gamer, or supposedly “being there to pick up boys”. I’m a computer scientist and there are very stringent rules for how to be taken seriously and avoid harassment in that male-dominated field. I do enjoy makeup etc, but I can’t really wear much at work; ditto skirts or any other traditionally femme clothes. I’m all about self-sufficiency, DIY, and being active, but I don’t always feel comfortable with banners like “hard femme” (b/c it’s too often hyperfeminized) or “tomboy femme” (b/c the first word tends to be given more emphasis than the second).

    Nuances like these are why I so love @sullivem‘s series http://www.autostraddle.com/tag/what-i-wore/

  49. It just occurred to me, a lot of my femme style inspiration comes from men. In my case, it’s Darren Hayes, but I also noticed a lot of people cite Prince as an inspiration. Perhaps we can draw from there?

  50. Can I just say I love the comments here? I feel much less alone as a lazy femme who doesn’t do makeup or fancy shoes or clothes. Not ’cause I think less of high femme fashion (I love it on other women!), but it’s just not how I feel comfortable myself. This is one of the few communities where I don’t feel ashamed for being inadequately feminine because of my lack of makeup or fashion skills.

  51. I am very femme/lipstick …so much so that I fly under all gaydar. I don’t get approached but I am not bothered by it. I am going to go against the grain here – when I am hit on by men I am flattered. I will take a compliment no matter the source. I am 51..the men that hit on me are in their 20’s or 30’s. The women that chase me are in their 30’s. It just tells me that I’m not looking like a California raisin.

  52. Ok so this is only peripherally related to fashion but…. have y’all ever had someone refuse to kiss you when you’re wearing lip makeup? Is that fair? Does it depend on the amount/type of lip makeup? I’ve had it happen happen a few times and it always makes me really upset but I also worry I’m overreacting. Please help, I have so many ~feelings~ and not enough femme friends.

    • This has happened to me, with my male purrtner. I was really offended (so it’s not just you) but he explained that it was because his ex in high school kissed him on the cheek once and insisted there was no mark but he was walking around with a massive lipstick mark and efurryone laughed at him. I didn’t fully get it, but I know how much expurriences at school affect me, so I tried to make sure I at least wore Lipcote around him / didn’t smother gloss all ofur him and the other day I send him a pictpurr randomly and he was like “ooooh what magic is this stuff you call lipstick? please do wear this around me – sorry I’ve been hesitant!” so maybe it’s one of those things where some people have distinct reasons for disliking it / don’t want to have lipstick on their own lips. Tbh I used to love ending up with my ex’s make-up all ofur me, but I’m trying to remempurr that not efurryone is like me, and some people struggle with the texture of lipstick et catera.

    • Sorry I have been in the lipurrary miaowst of the day trying to write about Emily Dickinson who defies all language I have to talk about manuscripts so I think what I wanted to say came out wrong. Basicatly, I think you had a totally legitimate reaction but it may be the case that’s it’s not about you at all, as it was with my purrtner and me. And if something matters to you, it’s impawtant.

      Vis a vis type, I mewsually try not to kiss my bf when I’m wearing gloss, but that’s because the only one I have is really thick violet gloss, which is mewtiful but impurracticat (like me!). It’s also happened more when it’s been brighter / more of an obvipuss tone – I think people worry about looking like they’ve either applied lipstick really badly that may not go with their gender identkitty, or just made out with someone. I quite like looking like I’ve just made out with someone, but each to their own.

      I have had it a bit though as a femmephobic thing about how I was a bisexual who looked too straight and kissing me must be gross because I’d get lipstick all ofur people…

  53. Agreed.

    I think that femme lesbians have more fashion leeway.

    I think it would actually be really helpful for young lesbians to see a blog run by multiple fashion editors who each have their own sense of style, posting items they find interesting without trying to look gay. Just looking like themselves.

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