Ashlyn Harris Is My Queer Style Icon, Because She Made Me Believe There's No Right Way To Be Androgynous

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In this letter, writer Griffin Wynne shares with Ashlyn Harris how the soccer player influenced them to re-think androgynous style rules.

Dear Ashlyn Harris,

I write to you from a brick-and-exposed-wooden-beam cafe in Philadelphia, with stone tables and $28 candles. In a genderless little sibling way, I’ve daydreamed about drinking overpriced coffees with you in a place like this, perhaps after a day of shopping for chunky sneakers in the city.

I say this because it is no exaggeration that after seeing your Instagram post from New Year’s 2019 — where you wore a tailored suit with no shirt underneath — you changed my basic understanding of clothing. Your ability to play with gender expectations and seamlessly weave the concepts of femininity and masculinity together has totally opened my previously monotoned understanding of androgyny as someone who is non-binary.

Though we haven’t actually shopped together (yet!) I draw so much fashion inspiration from keeping up with your style. It’s clear that you work a lot, you work out a lot, and you’re always on the road, but you still find a way to make yourself look stylish and functional. Even in your more glam photoshoots for your collab with Umbro or your March 2019 feature in People, I see your style as fresh and colorful, yet still practical. You prove that it doesn't take a lot for someone to always look their best.

From your interviews, I know that you grew up as a tomboy in Florida. I've read that you were bullied for being different, you grew up without financial security, and your family dealt with addiction and mental health issues. You’ve even been open enough to talk about your own depression and struggles you’ve overcome in your life: From literal physical injuries to feelings of insecurity. But through all that, you’ve shared the importance of self-expression, the power of style, and the healing nature of art and design.

Like so many people in our community, your clothes show your story. Just scrolling through your Instagram (which I did about 50 times while writing this) it’s clear how much your individual style is constantly evolving. Your use of patterns, vibrant colors, mixed materials, and textures teaches me that androgynous fashion doesn’t need to be ambiguous, understated, or plain.

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That said, you dress in a way that breaks away from binary labels and categories, and your style reminds me that I don’t need to wear oversized neutral-toned tunics to express my lack of gender. By mixing high-end labels with basic sportswear brands, layering chains on comfy sportswear, adding large hats, fun coats, and rocking suits with super glam makeup — you prove that much like gender, style is fluid. And this is so incredibly inspiring and accessible to me (and every other queer late bloomer.)

I also admire that your individual style has evolved alongside the steps you’ve taken to publicize your identity. You don’t take expressing yourself lightly, and you’re dedicated to showing up authenticity in how you live and how you dress. From openly celebrating Pride, to attending the Women’s March (in a shirt stating, “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise” no less), and fighting for equal pay in soccer, you are outspoken and politically active — and that is something that shines through your style everyday. Also, thanks for wearing Cardi B on your jersey as your feminist role model back in March. As a fellow fan, I audibly yelled when I saw it!

By being so vocal, you remind me to celebrate maximizing my bold personality and what's important to me through clothes, while still maintaining a minimalist style — especially when it makes me stand out from the crowd. And though you’ve obviously always been a style icon in my eyes, the last few years have made me appreciate your look even more.

To put it bluntly: I think you’re getting hotter with age, which gives me hope that I too can become a full-on daddy by the time I turn 33.

Though naturally I’ve always been drawn to your clothes, I’d be remiss to talk about queer style and not mention hair. As someone who's grown out quite a few impromptu buzz cuts, seeing your completely mastery of transitional long-to-short-to-long again haircuts is nothing short of a spiritual experience.

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From your clothes, to your choice of accessories, and the way you style your hair, you show me that I don’t need to dress for anyone else’s idea of beauty, gender, or queerness. I don’t need permission to present myself in a way that feels good to me, and I certainly don’t need to feel bad about prioritizing my beauty and style routines, habits, or preferences.

You inspire me to dress for who I am, and for how I feel. You motivate me to never let monotoned straight people or other outside pressures force me to “blend in” to change who I am.

And so Ashlyn Harris, soccer star and style icon, thank you for gracing the world as you are in this moment. Thank you for encouraging everyone around you to be themselves and to grow. Thank you for redefining androgyny, pushing gender boundaries, and encouraging people to find power and control in expressing their sexuality.

Style aside, there's no way I can finish writing you without elaborating on the news of your recent engagement to actual angel and fellow soccer player Ali Krieger. This public engagement has been monumental to soccer fans and queer people alike. Though retailers can mass produce “Love Is Love” on a rainbow canvas until the cows come homo, being publicly queer is still incredibly hard. It’s brave. It’s political. And in a lot of places, it’s dangerous. All that said, thank you for making space for your fellow queer people to live the lives we were meant to live. And thank you for always looking flawless while you do it.

Until next time, No. 24, let me know if you need a flower person for your wedding or an adopted genderless little sibling to suit shop with.

All the best, okur?

Griffin Wynne

Courtesy of Griffin Wynne