He Said/We Said Brings Queer Sartorial Smarts To The Ivies

If you’ve been jonesing for your daily dose of dapper, we’ve got just the fix. dapperQ’s He Said/We Said is back, right in time for Pride! For a quick refresher, check out the New Year’s post and last year’s retrospective as well as creatress mastermind Anita Dolce Vita‘s plan behind the magic:

“The models fashion their very own looks – I give the inspiration, they give the interpretation. They come to the shoot camera ready: hair, make-up, their own clothes, accessories and props. I didn’t want the series to reflect how to recreate menswear from an individual stylist’s point of view. It’s always a wonderful surprise to see what each model came up with and all of the different translations of the same inspiration.”

Published in 1965 by four Japanese style enthusiasts, Take Ivy, a collection of photographs shot at Ivy League campuses across America, is often considered to be the bible of Ivy League style. Not only did the book set off an American Ivy League fashion craze among students in the trendy Ginza shopping district of Tokyo, it has become an American cult phenomenon and sells for up to $2000 a copy on E-Bay. (Interestingly, one of the models for this edition of HS/WS, Rachel Rudy, brought a personal copy of the book to the shoot!) While some firmly believe that Take Ivy is the definitive document of American Ivy League menswear, others, such as Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs, founders of the menswear blog Street Etiquette, have noted that the book documents a primarily white experience; there was only one black student featured in the entire book.

Kissi and Gumbs responded to this inadequate representation with their wildly popular Black Ivy fashion editorial. As an African American, the first person in my family to earn a college degree, and the first person in my family to earn a graduate degree, I found the feature to be incredibly empowering and it instilled in me a great sense of pride. As a lesbian, and Features Editor for dapperQ, I wondered, “What about Queer Ivy League style? You know, the womyn and transmen who are fearlessly transgressing Ivy inspired menswear on the reg. How about we document that?!”

So, in the spirit of Take Ivy and Black Ivy, photographer Bex Wade, a group of dapper queers, and I headed up to Columbia University in New York City to capture images documenting queer Ivy style, adding to the bank of images defining and representing Ivy League menswear.

Allex Knight

Age: 24
Occupation/Awards: Post Production Assistant/ Logger & Transcriber for CBS & MTV

Song that best describes the outfit?

“(Night Time Is) The Right Time” by Ray Charles

Whose wardrobe (celebrity or otherwise!) would you raid?

Prince followed by Rihanna’s. Prince is the epitome of androgyny and I would love to steal his key pieces and emulate his style. And, well, Rihanna is a fashion rebel and utterly sexy. I’d thoroughly enjoy finding items I’d adore in her closet and letting her dress me.

What accessory/article of clothing can you not live without? Why?

My ankh necklace. It means “eternal life.” It was a gift from my mother from about 10 years ago and when I can’t be right up under her or hugged by her, it’s nice to carry something she got for me that goes with absolutely anything and everything that I wear.

Mary J. Barbour

Occupation: Writer, Dreamer, Dandy

Outfit Sobriquet: David Sweaterman

Talk about your favorite moment(s) from the shoot.

Squatting down behind the hedge with Bex directing us to jump while yelling, “Just don’t get hurt and sue me. I know you Americans love to sue people!!” Oh, and also learning about the regional availability of Honey BBQ Cheetos.

Whose wardrobe (celebrity or otherwise!) would you raid?

Russell Manley, the owner of the barbershop on Ludlow Street next door to the bar where I used to work. Google him. He’s a local legend.

Where are your favorite places to shop?

For wardrobe staples, I love the little boys section of Brooks Brothers. But most of my favorite things I’ve found at thrift stores or been given by people I love.

Muriel “Muri” Bernard

Age: 24
Occupation: Sports/Health & Fitness Enthusiast

Song that best describes the outfit?

“I’m A Lady” by Santigold

Talk about your favorite moment(s) from the shoot.

When a group of students kindly interrupted the shoot to compliment us and asked if they can use our image for their photo shoot, as our look/style caught their eye. This was completely flattering. This goes to show that an image is very influential, or as the students stated, “Keep styling and profiling!” Haha, love it!

Where are your favorite places to shop?

Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange. I’ve encountered these thrifty stores a few years back, and boy was I glad I did! Because, I have always felt that your typical yet known retail stores, as they are sectioned for mens/women, never quite did it for me. I’ve always felt restricted with limited options. Whether being that the women’ section was too “girly”, or the men’s section, where even though I love/admire the pieces of clothing, when it comes down to the reality of it, the clothing just wouldn’t fit! Therefore, in stores like Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange, I have the “luxury” and freedom to express and select my style in an environment of no labels, as this is how I personally describe my image.

What accessory/article of clothing can you not live without?

Why? My Black leather wristband, as well as a black or blue Blazer. The leather wristband is an item that I brought on a trip to the Caribbean several years ago. I think it simply provides an edge factor to all my looks. A Black/Blue Blazer is also one of those items in my closet that can transform casual-wear into a formal/business casual look.

Aden Hakimi

Age: 30
Occupation/Awards: Video Editor for MTV/VH1/Logo. Indie filmmaker, actor, and President of Midnight Productions LLC (check out our film “The Beverages”)

Outfit Sobriquet: Persian Proper

Song that best describes the outfit?

“Best Best” by Missy Elliott

Whose wardrobe (celebrity or otherwise!) would you raid?

Andre 3000 because I feel like I could get the clothes of other stylish men in a variety of stores whereas this guy, this guy’s wardrobe has got to be one-of-a-kind.

What accessory/article of clothing can you not live without?

Why? My glasses. Aside from the fact that I need them to see, they’ve really just become part of my face.

Rachel Rudy

Age: 24
Occupation: I’m a professional Watson-about-Bushwick and I bartend/party at Wreck Room, especially on Thursday nights

Outfit Sobriquet: Dadcore

Tell me about what it meant for you on a personal level to be involved in a project like He Said/We Said.

He Said/We Said was a really nice way to spend a sunny Saturday with good-looking strangers while getting to play dress up and make friends. I won’t lie, I like clothes and friends. Thanks for thinking of me for the shoot. I had fun, even though I felt a little green.

What accessory/article of clothing can you not live without?

My Take Ivy book, for this shoot at least.

Ema Lu

Age: 23
Occupation: Student at Fashion Institute of Technology

Outfit Sobriquet: It’s Time for Tea Sippin’

Where are your favorite places to shop?

I enjoy thrifting; it allows me to appreciate garments that I may never see again and happen upon a treasure, like Chanel shorts for 50 cents. I also thoroughly enjoy Zara.

Tell us a bit about your favorite moment(s) from the shoot.

The introduction to the many beautiful faces was my initial favorite moment. Then a random conversation about useless bee facts dissolved into meaningless banter about Cheetos Honey BBQ Puffs and how amazing they are became an instant hit.

Tell me about what it meant for you on a personal level to be involved in a project like He Said/We Said.

I happened upon this opportunity. I was honored to be asked on the spot to be a part of this project. The vibrant energy, radiant day, and have these moments documented. It allows for an opportunity for being from varied backgrounds to come together collectively and exist in a nest of magnificence.

What accessory/article of clothing can you not live without? Why?

I can’t live without a fun pair of socks. Because I think sock choice says a lot about a person!

Don’t forget to check out DapperQ next week for a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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DapperQ is one of the world’s most widely read digital queer style magazines and is a preeminent voice in queer fashion and beauty. We inspire people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender presentations to think differently about both queer fashion and beauty as art and visual activism, and ultimately have a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with style. In the words of founder Anita Dolce Vita, “dapperQ is a queer fashion revolution, one of the most stylish forms of protest of our generation.”

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    • Also, everyone looks lovely. Some serious fashion going on here. And bowties are cool.

  1. They look great, but…

    When I see queer ‘womyn’ and trans men grouped together, I’m going to wonder if by ‘womyn’ that also really includes trans women? Yes, I know, we haven’t seen all the pictures and maybe “there weren’t any trans women who wanted to do it” but I just wish people would think for a second about that issue of inclusion before getting all googly over how inclusive and hip it is.

    • How do you know that no one thought of that?

      I am inferring from your post you feel it is because people are writing positive things about the article as that’s all I have to go on is what you wrote. Sort of like how we don’t see all the pictures or don’t know if any trans women participated because..it’s not in the article.
      Also, to be clear about your wish–(not good to get googly before thinking about that issue) …what about getting googly after or during? Ok with you?

      How about just like someone saw lack of black representation after the first one and made a second one, then someone saw lack of ‘womyn and trans men’ representation and made one…that people continue to make these until the sum of all parts is all inclusive. Now that would make me googly, for realz.

      • “then someone saw lack of ‘womyn and trans men’ representation and made one…that people continue to make these until the sum of all parts is all inclusive.”

        Which is great, I hope so… just please don’t go all googly about “how hip, inclusive and queer fantastic” something is when it’s clearly leaving out sizable portions of the queer/trans community. This isn’t just a one off, this kind of exclusion has been going on in many queer spaces for years, and yes, often with the explanation that “this is about expressing masculinity” and there won’t be any trans women who are into that.” Heard that excuse many, many times. Yes, I’m going to withhold my googly until I see more variety of bodies represented. Having all women-ID’d people involved (including bois) is fine. But when you mix in the trans men and the cis-bodied queer women together, the “trans woman exclusionary alarm” gets sounded.

        • Regarding “that excuse”–when it is true, (ie, no one volunteers/willing/found) it is a reason, not an excuse when someone tries and wants to include but cannot for those reasons. But–before you get your alarms going:

          Reading ADV’s response I am not sure what kind of expansion is referred to exactly, wish I did but there are too many ways to interpret it given what is said directly before that statement and the lack of detail re: expansion.
          But I did notice that specifics for the project up until now include many and trying to read thru your eyes I saw many listed but not trans women (unless that was the ‘etc?’.

          So I am seeing that reading sites and queer spaces frustrates you. IMO not every queer space/article is going to meet everyone’s needs/expectations nor do I believe that they should. Not everyone is qualified/inclined/capable in meeting everyone’s needs.
          Trans issues are not my strongest interest, but I saw AS respond to the community requests and it has resulted in many well written articles that I read all the time. What I would like excluded is telling me what and when to enjoy, petty remarks about some in the ‘bois’ photo article being trans (unknown to the writer)instead of simple corrections offered, and such.
          If others are constantly disappointing you, try doing it yourself–be everything to everybody all the time, remember that means even those who want you inclusively hip and googly because they feel excluded otherwise.

          • One person’s calling something “petty” is another person’s pointing out real exclusion and social/historical context. You absolutely have every right to not be interested in trans issues but I have every right to call out situations which buy into ‘old school’ queer assumptions which involved excluding trans women from queer space. What I don’t appreciate is when what you said sounds a lot (to my ears) like “you people are never satisfied.”

            When queer starts to be completely centered around ‘persons born with a pussy expressing masculinity’ then I think that’s a problem. It’s kind of how AS defined focused on gender 18 mos. ago (and yes, they’ve done a lot to change that and grow… albeit not always consistently, but that’s a process). When queer is all about able-bodied “attractive” people then I don’t think that’s even queer… it’s the S.O.S. in a slightly different package. DapperQ mentions their inclusion process in the article and I’m challenging them to keep it going (which, yeah, takes some real effort), they might surprise themselves.

          • Petty was not the right word for describing some of the responses in that article referred to, so that is my mistake. I should have said critical and somewhat rude. The first ones were said in a manner to criticize first, before thinking it might be an honest mistake. It reminds me of..maybe before they get all ungoogly they should first consider it was not intentional? After that was made clear and apologies made, still one felt necessary to say it was ” pretty messed up”.
            I do not feel as you said, “you people are never satisfied”. If I did I would have said exactly that.
            My feelings on queer spaces/articles in my last post are literally what I believe without subtext or innuendo, or non realized internalized trans phobia.

            I am capable of honest self examination and I don’t appreciate your remark–and just because it ‘sounds’ like something to you which then caused your feelings doesn’t make it true. This is a common belief–if I feel this way than it must be true. Feelings are real but the cognitive process resulting in the feelings can sometimes be distorted, resulting in inaccurate conclusions.

          • From my perspective, based on my unique life experience, that was how I (continue) to interpret what you said. I can’t state it any truer (for me) nor more clearly. You may choose to listen, or not. I have long since tossed over “intentions” when discussing the inclusion/exclusion of groups. It doesn’t matter. What matters whether people are open to discussing it, truly examining their choices and behavior and moving to sincerely change it.

          • Hey Ginasf, it’s pretty obvious you don’t think much of the autostraddle site or the readers, given what I’ve read on your blog and other sites. I wonder why you don’t share your comments about AS you make on other sites. You referenced that I wasn’t listening to you (because I didn’t agree). Well, that wasn’t true then but it will be now, as you are basically trolling given what you think of this site. Wow, with all that you demand of others, you sure don’t ask much of yourself.

            -a “DYKE” at AS..btw you mislabeled ME

    • Thanks for your feedback, Gina. This version of “Ivy” was published under dapperQ, which is a visibility and empowerment project specifically for masculine presenting genderqueers, lesbians, bois, studs, transgender men, etc. While dapperQ invites their queer and straight allies to join the conversation, the goal has been to focus on masculine-of-center within the larger community. (Although there have been discussions to expand and how that expansion might look with respect to the overall mission.)

      This is not to say that there are not masculine presenting trans women, but there were not any who volunteered to participate for this particular shoot. But in short, Queer Ivy was produced under the vision of dapperQ’s current mission.

  2. I can’t think of a better way to mark pride month–such a beautiful spread. Nice work Juanita, Bex & Company!

  3. My fellow country folk, hello from some distant land. I truly approve of this fashion spread. Excellent, excellent work!

  4. my name is marie bernard (“riese” is a nickname that comes from marie) and that model’s name is muri bernard

  5. Good job Bex and dapperQ crew
    That makes me wish I could fit in Brooks Brothers boys clothes. Sadly I am an adult sized adult

  6. It’s only June and this is making me have excited Back To School autumn shopping feelings.

  7. ema lu! i know her and she has a very interesting and eclectic sense of style. and allex is just a hottie. love this shoot!

  8. I’m trying not to be overly critical here, because i love these looks and the personal perspective from the models. But to me this is not queer ivy. This is queer people in prep clothing. As someone who identifies as a queer prep and spends a lot of time thinking about queer theory in general and how it relates to prep, queer ivy would include perverting, subverting, and gender mixing it. I just don’t see a lot of that here. I know that the dapper boi look is a hella empowering queer gender for people right now, but that’s been going on since classic prep http://www.ivy-style.com/boyfriend-jacket-the-vassar-girl-and-the-ivy-league-look.html so I don’t really see it as a queering of prep itself.

    I see a lot sexual tension, class issues, and gender trouble in prep and I would love to see that camped up in a queer way. I do really appreciate that this shoot is out in the world, I guess it’s up to me to create what more I’m asking for.

    • I think the naysayers are reading far too much into this. As someone who identifies as androgynous, I have followed dapperQ for several years. The site has provided me with much needed fashion advice, ideas, and support. For me, gender is more than half the battle, more so than my sexual orientation. My mom has come to terms with the fact that I choose to partner with women, but is still humiliated at the fact that I won’t wear a dress to family functions. (Tisk, tisk, if only I dressed more like my femme girlfriend.) I think it’s important to have articles/sites, etc. that address the unique needs of our diverse community (like OP Magazine, etc.) I don’t know why this is offensive to some people. Not every article on Autostraddle will address my unique needs/likes, etc.

      Now, as for Queer Ivy – this is part of their He Said/We Said series, which I have been asked to model in before. If you took time to read the description of the series, you will see that every month/quarter, dapperQ selects an image and models who fit the niche market that the site addresses. Models are asked to “RECREATE” it. We are not asked to come up with something new. Actually, the opposite. There is no stylist. It’s like, this is what a D&G suit looked like on the runway, and here it is on real folks. Not too complicated. Queer Ivy belongs to that series and was not an attempt to recruit and capture all looks of the modern day Queer Ivy aesthetic. As it stands, it is one of the best replications of a look that I’ve seen thus far in the series. A+

  9. Pingback: Pride 2012 He Said/We Said: Queer Ivy « FASHION CRUMBS

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