What I Wore: Navigating the Heteronormative Patriarchy, Pt. 3

Welcome to What I Wore, a series where I explore fashion as shelter in traditionally heteronormative and patriarchal spaces.

The Gay Bar


Wow, I bet you did not expect this one. It’s just when I go to queer events I feel like there are some judgy assumptions in play about whose outfit is queer enough, which is a bummer, so I’m just saying let’s mix it up. No rules!

This outfit consisting of a rapidly deteriorating sweater, pleather pants, and a jacket made into a demi-skirt flashed me forward into a dystopian future where water is scarce but total gender/orientation presentation acceptance is not. That night no one noticed/cared what I was wearing or that I was even there, but I did pay $4.75 for a single domestic beer, so win-lose.

Success rating: 4 out of 5

The Grocery Store


On a recent trip to the grocery store my girlfriend and I were near the bread aisle – a sacred place – when an older woman in one of the store-provided motorized shopping carts approached on our left. We made our way around the other side of one of the wheeled displays to make room for her, and as we got ourselves settled into our new spot in the aisle one of us placed our hand on the other’s back. The older woman’s eyes registered that we touched. Two women touched in the grocery store. Two homosexuals made physical contact. Her brain must have shorted because she continued her motorized cart directly into the wheeled display, shoving it gently into the both of us. Honestly my favorite thing that’s happened to me in 2016.

Now I dress for ladies such as these in hopes that this is a regular occurrence, first lulling them into comfort with my clothes and then shocking them with my actions. I wanted this jacket to create a feeling of sitting on their couch where they watch their stories. The shoes are “smart” as they might say. Then when I take the jacket off, I can turn into – as a facebook friend has dubbed a look like this – a “lesbian art therapist.” Talk about multi-purpose! But I unfortunately didn’t catch the attention of any older bigoted women.

Success rating: 2 out of 5

That Job You Hate


Many of us have jobs we hate, and many of those jobs are deeply, deeply anchored on straight shores. Forced interpersonal contact for like six hours means the flirting between the hets hits Mariah Carey’s in “Emotions” pitch levels, and sometimes people even try to do it to you. No thanks! Because my works allows for a casual dress code I often hear, “I wish I could pull off some of the outfits Erin wears,” which translated means, “What the hell is this bitch wearing everyday?” THAT’S THE GOAL. On one particular day a coworker said that when I was just wearing a turtle neck with jeans. A turtle neck is apparently all it takes! Also In my forced time with cis men I’ve also found that they HATE HIGH WAISTED THINGS ON WOMEN.

So to continue this repulsion I combined the two elements mentioned above, throwing an even bigger wrench into that combo by wearing a sleeveless turtle neck, which is something of an abomination. These jeans are great, too, because they’re Guess jeans from I’m assuming the very early 90s, which means they fit TERRIBLY. Whenever I where them people go, “I love that you wear those jeans,” which means, “I hate those jeans so much.”

Success rating: 5 out of 5

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Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 208 articles for us.


  1. I love all of these SO MUCH. From the sofa jacket to the Guess jeans that I actually sincerely adore (and yes, I have also noticed that straight dudes hate high waisted stuff which means high waisted things are the absolute best). And I need some pleather pants and a rapidly decaying sweater ASAP.

    Erin, I think you are in my top 5 favorite people that I don’t know at all.

  2. Erin I just laughed for a solid 5 minutes at the Grocery store story…then I went to make a cup of tea, remembered it, and started laughing again. You are magnificent. Also loving that the “That Job you Hate” outfit is so reminiscent of background extras in Buffy circa 1999.

    • buffy background extra is maybe the biggest read ive ever gotten! also it was as funny remembering it as it was in the moment ahaha

      • Unintentional read! Unintentional! I am still living the 90s so I’m going to go hide in my plaid and Birkenstocks over here before I make it worse.

  3. Erin I just wanted to say that I LOVE this series so far and I also I would love to wear these outfits because they are all so cute :)

  4. Love your work outfit so much!!! I didn’t realize until now how much I need a sleeveless turtleneck. I have a lot of clothes where as soon as I put them on, I can hear my roommate’s voice in my head saying, “what on earth are you wearing you look like you got that outfit out of a literal garbage can” but that just makes me more determined to wear it anyway.

  5. Yikes, I was unaware wishing I could pull off outfits others wear is actually an insult. I thought it was a compliment.

    • oh there’s definitely a tone and gesturing going on that allows me to read through the lines

  6. True story: Big gay homo (BGH) friend and I went to a (straight) bar. BGH wore sneakers to said bar. BGH went to bathroom and person in stall next door screeches ” OMG WHY ARE YOU WEARING THOSE SHOES!” BGH responds” because they are comfortable”. Screechy-girl is horrified, BGH and I are endlessly amused. Shoe success: unintended 5/5

    • ahahahaha i just went through all of those and if im reading correctly men hate bikini tops, lipstick, eye makeup, short shorts, boots, and bracelets. I am rolling rn

    • Ha! I remember posting that article on my Facebook back then with the caption, “Guys are dumb assholes”.

    • Wow, before reading that article I thought I already hated men/the cisheteropatriarchy as much as possible but it turns out there’s more.

    • This is like a how-to for avoiding douchebags and looking ADORABLE while doing it.

  7. oh man!!! i love this series why am i just discovering it

    this is great it’s so hard to figure out how to queer my femme wardrobe

  8. Respect. great level of awareness and control.

    i of course like my t-shirt hoodie atrocity better than your sleeveless turtleneck atrocity but then i have the physical givens to project more street and more low intelligence goblin threat.

    Totally love what you’re doing, 10/10

  9. I often hear “I wish I could pull off some of the outfits Erin wears,” which translated means, “What the hell is this bitch wearing everyday?”


    Then i kept reading and it got funnier. I was laughing out loud in line at the bank.

  10. oh man, i love that lady in the grocery store

    bless her, and may the world continue to shock and astound her as it would a child for all of her days

  11. This is clearly the greatest series on Autostraddle and I’m mentally making edits in my wardrobe right now.

  12. Nylon cargo pants and turtleneck or t-shirt (no holes) plus plastic birki surgeon/cook clogs at work. Same nylon cargo pants plus nylon fishing shirt (long-sleeved lightweight sun/tick/chigger protection) plus broad-brimmed nylon hat plus muddy low-cut hiking shoes – when hiking – people take me for a Department of Conservation worker – I got a “Hey you look like Darwin” comment last week. I felt like combing out my non-existent chest length beard.

  13. I own an item of clothing that is not only a sleeveless turtleneck, but the turtleneck part is a long piece of fabric that wraps around your neck and ties up in back. It boasts a geometric pattern in a mustard yellow and forest green palette. This article has inspired me to dig it out of my closet and wear it to work on Monday.

  14. This is the best. Your dystopian future sounds pretty awesome. And your terribly-fitting high-waisted Guess jeans from the early 90s remind me so much of the jeans my wife used to wear. They are the best jeans. Men everywhere despise them, but I’ve always thought they were adorable!

  15. I believe you are the first person I’ve ever said this too but I wish you luck in catching the attention of old bigoted women – so you can gently shock them.

  16. I love this series, and also deeply identify with most of your outfits. I also hear the comments at work of “I wish I could wear that” – partially because almost everyone else I work with is at least ten years older than me, and partially because I wear whatever I want and pretend it’s okay.

  17. your jeans look like all my jeans? Have I secretly been wearing the bad jeans this whole time??? is this good or bad i’m having an existential crisis

    • this is not how these jeans look in a natural stance, this took some positioning! ur jeans are great i promise

      • phew, ok! thanks erin. all my jeans are from my mom, and from the early 90s, but i guess i never got the memo that they were disliked? maybe i’m like the heir of slytherin, but for mom jeans – the monster obeys only me?

  18. I fucking adore this column but how warm is it where you are how do you wear so few sleeves

    • ahahaha the great american south where as of last week we’re reaching the 90s with 100% humidity

  19. i actually feel like you’re achieving ideal mom jean fit with those jeans????

  20. “Also In my forced time with cis men I’ve also found that they HATE HIGH WAISTED THINGS ON WOMEN.”

    Do these dudes think it’s like 2005 or something? High-waisted skirts, jeans, shorts, etc. are flattering on a really wide range of body types…

    dope fits.

  21. Whenever you where them people go there, “I love that you wear those jeans,” which means, “I really hate those jeans so much.”have no style not a combination of cloths.If u really find lovely & branded jeans then visit on lovemyfashions

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