Straddler On The Street: Lydia, 24
Welcome to the final Straddler On The Street profile of 2013! We’re closing out the year with Lydia, and I couldn’t have asked for a more upbeat, stylish, inspirational, or badass woman to ring in the new year with.
Let’s talk about how cool Lydia is, okay? Okay. She has been writing her style blog, Style Is Style, since 2008, and as you might expect it is chock-full of years worth of delicious editorial for you to consume with your eyes and your brains and your hearts. If you click over there you’ll find a lot of incredible outfit posts along with musings about “body positivity, self-worth, and being a chubby lady.”
Style Is Style has been featured in BUST, Rookie Mag, and Modcloth, but this is the very first time Lydia has talked explicitly about being a queer human in an interview, so this is a Very Exciting Day. Let’s all give Lydia a huge warm welcome to the Queer Kids’ Club and then let’s gush about how damn good she looks in every single one of her outfits, because oh my god her style IS style, seriously.
What are you up to these days?
I currently work at a really sweet consignment store as a shopgirl, as well as helping style mannequins. I also write a personal style blog called Style is Style, which is mainly outfit photos but also inspirational editorials and imagery.
Woah, what a perfect job to go along with your blog and vice versa!
Yeah, it’s pretty great! Essentially my existence involves spending A LOT of time with clothing.
Awesome! You’ve been writing your blog for a long time now. What inspired you to start in 2008?
In 2008, I was living in Abbotsford, a suburb of Vancouver. I had just graduated from high school, and I was spending way too much time on the Internet. I had discovered a Flickr photo community called “Wardrobe Remix,” [where] users uploaded their sweet outfits. I was really inspired by the fact that “normal” people could be a source of fashion inspiration; prior to this discovery the only fashion media I encountered was fashion magazines. Even though I felt like I was not nearly as cool as all of the others in the group, I started documenting my personal style. That lead to wanting an outlet to talk about fashion, as well as post photos. So I started blogging on Style is Style.
Have you always been interested in style and fashion? What do those things mean to you?
I think that I have always had an interest in clothing and personal expression through one’s wardrobe. It wasn’t always super apparent, mostly because I had a negative association with “fashion.” I thought that it wasn’t possible to be a “smart girl” and also really enjoy getting dressed and expressing yourself through style.
That said, my parents were – thankfully – pretty lenient as far as letting me wear whatever I wanted, no matter how weird or ugly. In high school, my friends and I would go thrifting regularly, and wear the most heinous – but hilarious – get-ups to school. It was always fun to be able to “play” dress up.
That sounds so fun! I was actually a lot more daring with clothes in high school. I used to assign myself theme days which I forgot about until just now. Do you think people get less playful with clothes as we grow up?
Clothing and outfits were a way to escape the boredom of suburbia. We would have little photoshoots and come up with themes for each one! So yes, the themes were a thing for us too!
I think for me as an adult personal style is a way to keep sane. There can be so many exterior factors that are out of your realm of control; for me I can control the way that I look each day. I don’t quite understand why people start to lose that sense of fun and playfulness as they get older, perhaps life just starts to weigh heavy on them. Or maybe priorities shift away from personal appearance, which is totally fine.
Have you noticed any themes in the queer community with regard to remaining playful and daring with clothing as a means of self expression?
I think there is definitely an online movement of queer people who use clothing and makeup as a very playful medium of expression. But I also feel that there is a very big push to fall into a certain stereotype of queer person: for example butch, femme, etc. When I was first navigating my queerness [and] coming out to myself I was really struggling with the fact that I didn’t fall into what I had perceived to be queer style identities. I eventually realized that I could just be myself and didn’t have to be a stereotype… but sometimes I feel the pressure to be more “queer” seeming. Whatever that means…
Is “queer” your preferred identifier?
I identify as queer. For most of my life I had dated men, until about two years ago. These days I date women, but I don’t think that I can completely rule out men forever.
Queer is my favorite label for myself too – I feel like it speaks to more than just a sexual orientation, if that makes sense.
Agreed! Queer says it all without having to say anything.
Exactly. Can we talk more about the boxes you were talking about within queer fashion and the queer community in general?
I can honestly say that I didn’t feel comfortable “coming out” in regards to my blog until very recently. It was for a myriad of reasons, but one of the biggest factors was feeling like I wasn’t “queer” enough.
Wait, you never really talked about queerness on your blog until recently?
Haha YUP. This is kind of the first interview where I am talking about it.
WHOA REALLY?! I FEEL HONORED. Sorry for yelling I just got excited.
I love you guys so it seems like an appropriate medium! I have implied it on my blog and I have posted things on my Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. so it’s not that it’s completely hidden. But it’s not really out there… until now!
Okay well I am fangirling all over the place.
Hahaha, thanks! I just recently came out to my family, so I feel good about talking about it on the internet now.
Congratulations! That is so so so rad. How did your family react?
My family took it much better than I had anticipated, and that really cemented me feeling comfortable enough to start an online dialogue through my blog and other media outlets. I didn’t really see myself represented in LBGTQ media, and that made it hard to feel legitimized. Even when going out, I’ve struggled with how to communicate that, yes ladies, I am interested in you, even though I may look “straight.”
How do you think we as a community can fight femme invisibility?
For me, I think the best way to work on the invisibility is to be vocal about your experiences. It’s hard to know that something is there if you never hear about it. I’m totally okay with talking about my queerness now because I realized there are probably a bunch of other people who feel like I do/did and are looking for something to relate to. I know that being “out” isn’t always the easiest option, and can be downright dangerous for many people, but since I am blessed enough to be in a position where my safety and income are not at risk if I talk about being queer, I should probably take advantage of that.
That is so important, especially for those of us who are in a position where it is safe to speak up. It’s like you’re speaking the words of my soul!
Oh man, you are going to make me cry! I am the SAPPIEST human and I always felt like there were no other queers who felt like me! So I kept on hiding.
I am all about the tears so if you wanna cry, go for it! Also I completely know what you mean about feeling like there are no other queers out there who look or feel like you – I felt that way for so long. You are singing my song.
Ya! I felt like a pretender but now I know that isn’t true. And that my experience is just as valid as any other queer person.
Absolutely. That is so excellent. Are there any specific moments you’ve experienced with other queers that have felt particularly legitimizing?
I recently found a circle of QPOCs in Vancouver, and hanging out with them has made me feel so SO good. They have been so welcoming and I’ve never felt like I have to change my appearance or explain myself to them and I didn’t really have that before now. It’s been so nurturing to have a group of people whom I can ask for advice, or just vent about stupid oppressive shit, too. Or even just obsess over Beyoncé with, haha! And TRUST I am obsessing over Beyoncé.
BEYONCÉ. God what a woman.
What a woman!
But back to you and style. Do you have any advice for queer women who want to experiment more with style but aren’t sure where to start, especially women who do not have a lot of money to spend?
Yeah! My biggest advice would be don’t be afraid to try something different. My go-to for trying out things I am iffy about is thrift shopping. Fashion is always recycling trends, so there is a decent chance that you will be able to replicate whatever is “new and now” by taking a trip down to Value Village. You can try out something for a very minimal dent in your wallet. If you hate it, it was only five dollars! If you love it, it might be worth looking for the higher price point version. Also, the internet is ripe with inspiration! There are plenty of bloggers out there, you can probably find someone with a similar body type and style. Take a look and see if they have figured out how to wear something you are dying to try. Quite often blogs link to where to purchase things, or items that are very similar but at lower price points. Oh, and make an inspiration board. Gathering a bunch of style images you like will help you narrow down the direction you would like to go in.
Thank you! That is all such awesome advice. What are your must-have articles of clothing or accessories that you can’t live without?
I currently can’t live without my vintage Levi’s motorcycle jacket. I’m rarely seen without a hat… right now I’m falling hard for felted hats with ears. And riding caps!
What are your favorite fashion magazines?
My favorite fashion magazine EVER is Lula Magazine. This month the final issue came out, and I’m not sure how to replace it. Dreamy editorials, lovely interviews and perhaps the girliest editor in chief, Leith Clark (she is Canadian! woot!). I also love flipping through The Gentlewoman.
What are some of your favorite style blogs?
Some of my favorite fashion blogs are calivintage, mitzicocoa, zero style, gabifresh, avant blargh, lady moriarty, karla’s closet, the clothes horse, nadia aboulhosn and ceedling. I have many more favorites but these ladies are my go-to when I need outfit inspiration.
Rad. Do you have a celeb crush?
The only reasonable answer for today: BEYONCÉ. Obvious? SURE. Totally legitimate? I think the evidence supports my choice.
SO LEGIT. Truly. I also always ask this question: How did you discover Autostraddle?
I discovered Autostraddle probably about 1.5 years ago, when I was really trying to figure out my identity. I was looking for advice on how to date girls, and Google led me here!
Ya! It’s been a super rad resource of both serious advice and fun pop culture rants. The perfect blend of fun loving and nitty gritty.
That’s what I love to hear! Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with the Autostraddle community?
I just want to say you guys are REALLY AWESOME!
Hi crush monsters, this has been Straddler On The Street, a feature where I celebrate all of you incredible Autostraddle readers by hunting you down, demanding you chat with me, and then writing about you on the Internet so we can all crush on you.
As of today, Straddler On The Street is going on hiatus, so I am no longer accepting submissions at this time. If you’ve submitted in the past and haven’t heard back from me yet, sit tight – I’ll be in touch when I return from my adventure, promise! You’re all still sexy with really smart brains, and don’t you forget it! – Vanessa
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