Lesbian fashion history is a field of study that is largely ignored, and it is time for this to change. Within LGBTQ histories and fashion histories, the dress of lesbianism is invisible (alongside lesbianism itself the majority of the time). Clothing has so much to tell us and so much of an impact can be made when it is worn – when worn on the lesbian body, clothes can be political tools, validatory items, markers of identity and visibility. There is always more than one reading of these things and more than one way of dressing lesbianism. This blog, Dressing Dykes, is an ongoing project that seeks to study some of these possibilities.
My name is Eleanor Medhurst, and I come to this blog as a lesbian dress historian; that is to say, I’m a first class graduate in Fashion and Dress History at the University of Brighton, and a postgrad in History of Design and Material Culture at the same university. Throughout my studies, I have specialised in lesbian dress histories, presenting my research at conferences such as Lesbian Lives and Gayness in Queer Times. Currently, I am unemployed, or this blog probably wouldn’t be happening at all. It’s a pandemic, what can I say?
With Dressing Dykes, I intend to study and share a variety of lesbian dress histories. Coming up for certain are posts about Anne Lister (the 19th century lesbian heiress sprung into the 21st century limelight with the TV series Gentleman Jack), reclaiming the colour pink (if you’ve come here from my instagram, you’ll know why) and various aspects of lesbian slogan t-shirts (I’ve just written a master’s dissertation on the topic, so I have a lot to say – it’s all very interesting, I promise). The research here will evolve over time, and I am more than happy to hear ideas or suggestions from anyone who may be reading.
The main goal of this blog is to centre lesbianism. I have the utmost solidarity with the rest of the LGBTQ community, and it is important to note that I and this blog fully support my trans sisters, brothers and siblings. This is a trans-inclusionary and trans-celebratory space. Lesbianism can be prioritised without being exclusionary, and this is the hill I will die on. By prioritised, I do not mean being more important than any other marginalised sexuality or gender. It means to be recognised as a radical subject position with a unique perspective on the world which deserves to have a place to be specified and analysed. This is one such place.
While I will be posting full blog posts here, I will also be posting in a more condensed and possibly more frequent format on Instagram: @dressingdykes. You can follow the Instagram for updates, but also subscribe to this blog for email notifications whenever there is a new post. It’s the whole shebang. I hope you enjoy it.