Dressing Asexily and Androgynously Femme

Originally posted on Tumblr but reposted here for archiving. Please note that my views may have changed since this was first written.

I went clothes shopping with my Mum yesterday. I was super unsure about going since I’m having a fashion identity crisis, but we didn’t do too bad – clothes these days are mainly awful, but I decided to style myself after Kitty Winters (off Elementary) for a while since the only clothes I know I’ll wear are my skinny jeans and I’m just a little bit platonically in love with her.

But back to the point – I’m having a clothes-related identity crisis.

I like looking ‘sexy’. It sounds silly, being an ace and all, and I guess it’s not actually ‘sexy’ I’m going for – I don’t want people to find me sexually attractive. In fact, the idea of people finding me sexually attractive kind of disgusts me, if I’m honest; it just feels pervy and weird to think that people might think about me that way. However, I spent the first seventeen years of my life equating ‘sexy’ with ‘aesthetically pleasing’, and I haven’t yet got rid of that connection in my mind. When I say I like looking ‘sexy’, what I really mean is that I like looking aesthetically pleasing; not necessarily pretty or handsome or anything like that. I think I try to look… sophisticated? This is the look I’ve been going for for the past few years of my life and I guess it’s some teenage longing to be seen as an adult, but I want to look nice in a more difficult-to-articulate way than just ‘pretty’. And that, of course, has led me to accidentally look (what I would consider to be (from my obviously inexperienced point of view)) sexy. This is a bit of a problem when you don’t like people being sexually attracted to you, and I have some serious cognitive dissonance on the whole thing.

That, added to the fact that I finish school soon and can finally escape from the ‘business’ wear that I’ve been wearing five days a week for about 18 months, has lead me to thinking about how I dress. I thought that my half-arsed attempt at understanding gender might help me with this subject, but it’s just made it harder.

I might not often go for looking ‘pretty’, but I do enjoy pretty things every now and again. I like wearing dresses that are good for twirling in or make me look cute and I like not wearing murderously tight jeans or dangerously short shorts in the summer. Dresses are a good thing to wear every now and again. But they’re not my main type of clothing (partially due to the effort involved with tights or shaving legs and such like, I have to admit). When I emerged from the haze of wondering about gender and realised that I don’t even know what the word means and don’t care to, I figured I should try dressing appropriately.

Of course, that’s pretty hard to do when you’re a girl-type creature and you like dresses. If I was a guy-type creature, I could experiment with pink and flowers and that sort of stuff, and I know for a fact that I would love it (every now and again when I felt like it) and I would feel like I was ‘properly’ agender. As a girl-type, though, it’s hard to dress in a way that’s not seen as a girl way of dressing. If you wear the skirts and dresses and pink, you’re clearly a girl; if you wear jeans and a tshirt, you’re still a girl; if you wear badly fitted jeans and an England shirt, you’re a tomboy and therefore unattractive. Pretty much the only way I can see of dressing androgynously or outside of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ while being coded as ‘girl’ is by having short hair and always wearing jeans, and, while I’m not opposed to the jeans, short hair just wouldn’t suit me.

So I have some dilemmas: look attractive sexually as well as aesthetically, or don’t look attractive; wear dresses or try to fit your fashion style to your gender (ie, the gender you don’t have but society still manages to stereotype). Which is why I’m having such a clothes crisis – if clothes weren’t gendered and ‘attractive’ was in the eye of the beholdee, I’d be fine. Unfortunately, society doesn’t work that way.

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