For my entire life, dressing in a way that was comfortable for me was always pretty tricky. As a demigirl and as a part of the nonbinary community, my gender fluidity has led me to be more comfortable with androgynous styles. However, it's not always as simple as "dressing androgynously." My gender feelings change day by day, sometimes putting me on opposite ends of the masculinity and femininity spectrum. I've worn no shortage of gender-neutral attire, and also always have at least one dress in my closet. But my more masculine side has been harder to negotiate with.
Shopping in the men's department is an extremely stressful process for me. When I was younger, as a "girl," browsing through the little boys' section was never really an option. Now, in adulthood and closer to a greater understanding of my gender, I feel like I have more freedom to pursue men's fashions. However, the pressures of a society reinforcing the gender binary combined with my own anxiety still make obtaining any of my own masculine clothing even harder.
In the past, I heavily borrowed from my best friend (a cis gay man), utilizing his own colorful and masculine pieces in my wardrobe. But since I've met my partner, Skylar, I've taken to borrowing clothes from them the most. Their own genderqueer identity, and consequently a wardrobe with a mishmash of stylistic and gender influences, makes it especially satisfying to get dressed in the morning when I have unlimited access to their closet. Here are some of the pieces I love to borrow the most, mainly because they make me feel most confident and comfortable in my gender identity:
1. Skylar's Underwear
My partner recently handed down a handful of their underwear to me since they were uncomfortably small on their broader frame. As a result, the underwear fits my smaller frame perfectly. I love the way men's underwear feels and looks on me, and thoroughly enjoy trading them out with my women's underwear on days when I'm feeling more masculine. They make me feel super sexually in charge and at peace with my own masculinity.
Although my attitude is normally very "down with cis white men," strongly advocating for the empowerment of women and queers, there is a certain satisfying power in wearing a piece of clothing that normally houses a dick. I feel closer to my metaphorical dick in Skylar's underwear, and honestly it makes me feel all kinds of powerful.
2. Their shorts
Besides the fact that this is one of the pieces that makes me feel most masculine and badass, these shorts are extra meaningful to me. A couple of weeks ago, I had gotten dressed in a hurry and went off to the city for the day in the quickest outfit I could find. I had left my credit card at the restaurant Skylar and I had eaten at the night before, and was pretty anxious to be reunited with the precious piece of plastic A$AP Rocky.
I was feeling quite masc that day, but for the purposes of convenience and comfort (it was crazy hot that day), I threw on a floral sundress. For the rest of the day, I felt off. I felt weirdly out of place walking around the city, and later the mall with an old friend, I didn't feel unlike a cis boy in a dress. I had texted my partner about it, and was talking about how I just wanted to buy a masculine outfit while I was out. But trying to shop in the men's department only created more stress.
Finally, when I met up with Skylar later, they had me switch clothes and wear their shorts pictured above for the rest of the night. I felt so relieved. And for the first time all day, I could breathe again knowing my outside matched my inside. Whenever I wear them now, I feel confident and especially present in my body.
3. Skylar's Button-Up Shirts
I'm obsessed with button-ups in general, and Skylar has a ton of really cool ones to choose from (including one with tiny glasses of lemonade printed all over it). I love buttoning them all the way to the top, and feel super dapper with an accentuated collar. My favorite of their button-up shirts is this black-and-white striped one.
Every time I see them in it, it reminds me of a Tim Burton movie. I'm especially obsessed with Beetlejuice, and so I love the way the button-up complements the beetle tattoos on my arm. I feel like a goth prince in this top, channeling all of Beetlejuice's evil and conceited confidence.
4. Their Fancy Jacket
Just as much as I enjoy the masculine offers in my partner's closet, I also love perusing the more feminine selections they have. Skylar got this gorgeous jacket at a queer clothing swap at our school last winter, and I've been obsessed with it ever since. This is the perfect jacket to throw over a party dress and tights on colder nights. It makes me feel like I'm a millionaire wearing a fancy robe or smoking jacket to a sexy party. Unfortunately, during the warmer months, neither of us get much wear out of it, and therefore miss out on its sexy transformative powers.
5. Skylar's M.A.C. Lipstick
My partner has good taste in lipstick and favors M.A.C. over most brands. Last year, they received a M.A.C. lipstick in Smoked Purple, which we both love. This lipstick, as most lipsticks do (especially unconventional shades), gives me a huge boost of confidence and always makes me feel super powerful regardless of how I'm feeling that day gender-wise. Lipstick to me is the great equalizer of all genders, and certainly an equalizer between Skylar and I. Everyone can benefit from the fierce pop of color painted on their lips without it having to be something "feminine" or "masculine."
Images: Skylar Belt; Meg Zulch; skylar_belt/Instagram