The Lesbian History of Short Hair

Appearance is more than just clothing. It is our skin, our nails, the tilt of our mouths or the furrows of our brows, the tattoos that may adorn us and the hair on our heads – or our legs, or our armpits. Of course, most of my work culminates in a study of garments, asContinue reading “The Lesbian History of Short Hair”

Sailor Outfits and Lesbian Culture, 1920s-1930s

The sailor aesthetic is irrevocably intertwined with queer culture. The job description of “sailor” has a straggeringly gay history and the aesthetic has been used time and time again in gay fashion, media, music and more; think Tom of Finland or Pierre et Gilles. I use the word “gay” because, more often than not, theseContinue reading “Sailor Outfits and Lesbian Culture, 1920s-1930s”

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”

Was the 1920s Monocle Really a Lesbian Symbol?

Lesbians in the interwar period used fashion codes in order to recognise each other and form communities – at least, that’s what it looks like to us, a hundred years later. However, the fashion reality of lesbians in the 1920s and 30s wasn’t quite so black and white. Items such as the monocle seem toContinue reading “Was the 1920s Monocle Really a Lesbian Symbol?”

Fashion History was Never Straight: Madge Garland, Dorothy Todd and Vogue

When we consider the ‘staples’ of fashion history, there are a few things that may come to mind: Dior’s ‘New Look’ from 1947; supermodels and designers, Kate Moss and Chanel; decade-based fashion history – the 1960s, the 1830s, the 1770s… and, from the beginning of the 20th century, Vogue magazine. At first and traditionally allContinue reading “Fashion History was Never Straight: Madge Garland, Dorothy Todd and Vogue”