‘Roots’ Style: Black Lesbians in 1980s Britain

I recently came across the term “Roots”, or more specifically, “Roots lesbians.” It was while I was researching for my article on lesbian feminist dress codes, and I made a note to come back to the term and find out more about it. However, once I got around to doing this, I found it toContinue reading “‘Roots’ Style: Black Lesbians in 1980s Britain”

From Anne Lister’s Closet: Top Hats or Bonnets?

When studying the history of lesbian fashion, someone who I come back to again and again is Anne Lister. This is because of the wealth of evidence that she left behind, not just of the clothes that she wore but how she felt about them, from the perspective of a woman who we know lovedContinue reading “From Anne Lister’s Closet: Top Hats or Bonnets?”

Cross-Dressing Dykes, an Eighteenth Century Spectacle

A confession: This article was never meant to be about cross-dressing dykes as an eighteenth century spectacle at all. In fact, it started out as an analysis of the fashion of one cross-dressing dyke of the eighteenth century, Mademoiselle de Raucourt (1756-1815). I will be writing about Raucourt, in all her theatrical, French, lesbian glory,Continue reading “Cross-Dressing Dykes, an Eighteenth Century Spectacle”

From Lavender to Violet: The Lesbian Obsession with Purple

How many times, in the history of lesbian fashion, is purple on the periphery? Within this blog, it crops up repeatedly, an Easter egg for the eagle eyed. There’s the hand-made t-shirts of the Lavender Menace, lavender in colour as well as in lettering, at once an insult and a rebuttal. There’s the bright purpleContinue reading “From Lavender to Violet: The Lesbian Obsession with Purple”

Lesbian Feminist Dress Codes

Today’s article is a reflection on lesbian feminist dress codes. It is not an endorsement of every single lesbian feminist idea or rhetoric, but neither is it a dismissal of the movement as a whole. I’m acknowledging lesbian feminist fashion (or anti-fashion)’s place within a broader lesbian fashion history and asserting that the clothes wornContinue reading “Lesbian Feminist Dress Codes”

Feminism and the Fashioned Lesbian in 1910s Japan

The first issue of Seitō was published in 1911. Named by its founders in reference to the Bluestockings of 18th century England – a group who we might now call ‘proto-feminist’ – the publication was run by women, for women, promoting equal rights for women through literature. It ran for a period of 5 years,Continue reading “Feminism and the Fashioned Lesbian in 1910s Japan”

Rainbow Capitalism and the Appropriation of Lesbian Imagery

Once again, it’s Pride Month – and rather than protesting the continued mistreatment of LGBTQ people around the world, we are encouraged to consume. Big businesses change their logos to the colours of the rainbow and release Pride “themed” ranges, and this is supposed to placate us, distract from the multiple conglomerates whose profits fundContinue reading “Rainbow Capitalism and the Appropriation of Lesbian Imagery”

The Miraculous Masculinity of Gladys Bentley

Gladys Bentley: blues singer, tuxedo wearer and lady lover. In the words of Saidiya Hartman in her book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, “Bentley was abundant flesh, art in motion.”1 In the words of Bentley herself, from 1952 when she had left the stage and all that came with it, “a big, successful star – andContinue reading “The Miraculous Masculinity of Gladys Bentley”

Lez Accessorise: Carabiners and Rings as Lesbian Signals

“What does a lesbian look like?” feels like an age-old question – or, to be more realistic, a decades-old question. With Dressing Dykes, I hope that I answer it at least regarding specific individuals, or lesbian styles at particular times and places throughout history. However, lesbianism exists in the heart, the mind and the bodyContinue reading “Lez Accessorise: Carabiners and Rings as Lesbian Signals”

Suffragette Fashion and the Lesbian Threat

The Suffragettes: the name given by the press to the women’s suffrage movement in the UK. Though intended to be derogatory, was claimed and used by the movement itself and organisations such as the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The Suffragettes have, rightly, gone down in history – their actions and campaigns were instrumentalContinue reading “Suffragette Fashion and the Lesbian Threat”