Q: It’s wedding season. The worst time of year. I have to spend hundreds of dollars I don’t have to attend the weddings of friends and family who are all of the hetero persuasion. My girlfriend looks great in her vest and fancy cufflinks, but my style has shifted to the slightly more feminine side of androgyny lately and I think I’d like to wear a dress. That being said, everywhere I look, dresses seem fall into one of two categories: Daytime Dominatrix or Grandma’s Favorite Lampshade, both categories often dazzled with more sequins than I feel comfortable with. Maybe someone could write an article about wedding/formal wear for queer ladies navigating their way along various ends of the gender presentation spectrum?
A: I am so FREAKING EXCITED to answer this question!!! I know you call wedding season the worst time of year, but in my opinion, it’s the best. I’m a tear-filled romantic who loves parties, so I love weddings, and I’m obsessed with dress-code-based fashion, so I love weddings even more. I also love trying to figure out different ways that people of all different genders and gender expressions can figure out a perfect outfit that fits those dress codes. I’m also pretty obsessed with the idea of androgynous dresses, so thank you for bringing them up. The idea that androgyny needs to be suits or pants is so old! I love those aspects of fashion, but please, I’d love to see more dress-wearing androgyny in the future.
I’m really glad you asked about barely-feminine-of-center dresses, because as someone very, very feminine of center, it’s not something I really wear. So what I did was imagine a soft butch (my favorite kind of queer) and pictured them in different dresses and picked the ones that look best. I hope that helps you. Also, just so you know, a lot of us here at Autostraddle would absolutely love to wear those Daytime Dominatrix dresses you mentioned, so maybe help a girl out and share some links? Anyway, here are three of my favorite Spring/Summer dress trends that, in my opinion, don’t skew too far femme of center and would look great at a wedding.
Shirtdresses are super great if you want to wear a dress, but you don’t want it to be form-fitting or even especially “feminine.” For a super laid back look, you could go for this ASOS Oversize T-Shirt Dress with Curved Hem. If you’re a flannel fan, you could pick the Shirt Dress in Check. I love this baby blue Monki Sleeveless Shirt Dress, or if you’re like me and you like to wear white to weddings, the simple Monki Shirt Dress is a great choice.
Gingham is a great fabric because it kind of screams tomboy to me. It’s like, flannel is for tomboys who live in the forest and the mountains, and gingham is for tomboys who live on the plains. I’m a big fan of showing off shoulders, so of course I love this New Look Gingham Cold Shoulder Shirt Dress, and I think this Gingham Tiered Hem Dress is the cutest tomboy femme look I’ve ever seen. Finally, the Shirt Dress in Gingham and Gingham Shirt Dress with Side Splits combine two of my favorite trends into one cute dress.
Denim’s rugged, denim’s cool, denim’s fashionable. This Lee Western Shirt Dress has a super nice hint of femininity, but won’t hit you over the head with it. Overalls are a great slightly-feminine-of-center look, and this Denim Overall Dress is Mid Wash Blue is a great example that can be paired with a shirt. I’m also a huge fan of this ASOS Denim Belted Shirt Dress in Anouki Mid Stonewash Blue. My two favorites, though, are this Denim Button Through Dress, which has such a gorgeous deep blue color, and especially this Button Front Tea Dress In Denim With Baby Embroidery. I know this second one might look like it’s pretty far femme of center, but just imagine a tough chick who rides a motorcycle and works at her mom’s garage in the ’50s wearing this dress, beating up sexist punks and stealing the head cheerleader’s heart and tell me that it’s not perfect.
One good way to make a dress-based outfit more androgynous is to add a cute blazer over it. Wildfang has a new Wild Feminist Collection that has some super great shirts and pins, but more relevantly it has some absolutely great blazers. The Williams Blazer has this super great floral pattern, and I love the geometric lines of the Watson, but if you’re looking for a simpler look, the Clark is the choice for you.