You Need Help: Wedding Fashion For Queers Just a Few Centimeters Femme of Center

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

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

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

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.


Blazers

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.

Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 574 articles for us.

33 Comments

  1. So many good suggestions! Now I want to be invited to a wedding so I can go get myself a shirt dress and wear it with a skinny tie, blazer and knee boots.

    On a tangential fashion note, I’m trying to come up with an androgynish costume for a 20s/30s themed party this Friday, part of which may involve a fedora, a corset/bustier, pants with suspenders, and heels. Google image search did not help me find any examples of what this might look like (though I did discover that corsets for men are a thing, and I’m kind of enamored) but I’m excited about the possibilities.

  2. “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 now I’m really not going to get any work done today…

  3. Yes! I hope more articles for other presentations are coming after this one because I was totally going to request an updated article on What To Wear To Heteronormative Family Wedding Season too

  4. Nice article Mey and good question!
    Blazers and dresses are such a fun way to mix different parts of the gender spectrum! I also suggest looking for a simple dress that you feel confident in and queering it up w/ accessories

  5. I recently moved from working in a pretty conservative office to a “cool” office (Jeans on Monday! What a concept!) so I’ve been trying to bring more queer vibes to my 9-5. “Centimeters femme of center” is absolutely my brand, and these selections are perfect Mey! For me, wearing “menswear” in feminine prints/fabrics has been making me feel comfy, so maybe that would also help the question-submitter.

  6. Mey, I love the entire tone of this piece. You actually make wedding fashion sound exciting, which I did even think was possible. (I do not love weddings, and yet I have been in ten of them.)

    Any guidance for those of us who hate skirts and dresses but can’t quite pull off the suit-and-tie look (or, even sadly, that lovely Watson blazer) for a variety of reasons, but mostly two large reasons in front?

    At this point I mostly just avoid formal events because I don’t want to wear a dress, and if I do go, I spend the entire time feeling uncomfortable and overexposed.

  7. I would also like to recommend The Jumpsuit. Very versatile, can be dressed more femme/less femme with accessories (like the blazers already mentioned), and there are varieties for a range of gender presentations and formality levels.

  8. Yo I love this but I cringed a lot when I read the line about liking to wear white to weddings. NOoooo please don’t do this y’all it’s such a faux pas! And not just for dumb etiquette reasons but like, you should always err on the side of not upstaging/competing with the bride(s)…there’s literally only one color that’s reserved for the bride, it’s not hard to avoid (yes I agree white is traditional for dumb patriarchal reasons, that’s not the point.)

    Sorry to be a spoilsport, apparently my inner elderly Southern lady is more aggressive than I realized.

    • Loved this article…and I definitely have to agree with Emily. As an engaged queer lady, my lady and I are really looking forward to (and working really hard on) our wedding, excited to have our friends and family celebrate with us. We’re also both wearing white dresses. I would be really hurt and confused if a friend of ours decided to show up in white for the sole reason of upstaging us on a day we worked so hard to make happen that’s meant to be a celebration of our love. I know folks love to hate on weddings/ the wedding industry, and it’s easy to mock traditional ideas in the abstract (like wearing white on your wedding day), but hopefully when people you actually care about invite you to celebrate with them, you’ll think twice about co-opting their moment.

      Just a thought!

      • Yes!!! I’d be so sad and annoyed if someone wore white. Yeah, I get the patriarchal history, but that’s not for you to decide for them. Like, grow up? It’s not your wedding. Just be nice!

  9. So my dear sister chose coral (which is PINK) as her wedding color, a few years after I bought my last dress and a solid year since I’d worn one. I considered asking to wear something other than a dress, but I didn’t want to do that because [essay worth of feelings]. It took multiple hopeless sessions of internet shopping to realize that most dresses are cut to expose at least one of [chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, stomach]. For me it wasn’t the dress that was making me uncomfortable, it was that I wanted to be covered up, and it took me a while to figure that out. I ended up getting a ‘wrap the top yourself’ dress, which worked because I could cover my entire back, entire chest, shoulders, upper arms, AND legs, and I wore a sports bra. Everyone was happy.

  10. So I would say that maaaaybe–depending on the pants/shoes/accessories–4/16 of these looks are formal enough for a wedding. Did anyone else feel like this?

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