February 7, 2011


(silent film star Olive Thomas)


So we're seeing it everywhere from Stella McCartney to Diane Von Furstenberg. It seems that practically every designer in the book of Fashion is feeling a bit inspired by menswear in their Spring 2011 women's collections.  We're seeing flowy trousers cropped at the calf, tailored oxford style shirts, bolero inspired hats and more. As I watch video after video of the latest runway shows I can't help but feel that this Manspiration is actually coming from a less expected source: Lesbians. 

That's right, 2010 was the year of the Lesbian if you ask me. La Lohan and her Pete Doherty-esque GF Sam Ronson were everywhere for the wrong reasons this year, becoming practically impossible to avoid from entering our general consciousness. Three other, much more inspirational individuals however, have truly brought it when it comes to style in 2010. The leading ladies I'm thinking of are television mogul Ellen Degeneres, fashionista and L word actress Kate Moenning and my favorite voice of reason the lovely and incredibly smart Rachel Maddow. What binds these women together is not who they date but rather what they wear. All three play with a theme of androgyny without losing touch with their femininity and sexiness. All three embrace a boyish simplicity and ease of style. All three have a keen understanding of fit and a penchant for breaking the rules. The lesbians I know have been sporting this sexy beiber thing for nearly a decade, but until recently their uniquely edgy yet familiar style has yet to enter the public view on a mainstream level. It is this accessibility that make these women both interesting and influential.  

Ellen Degeneres continued to rule the school of television staring not only on The Ellen Show but also on American Idol and as the host or presenter on practically every single award show. Her effortless and comfortable style seemed to really reach a high point as she hit her style stride seen in unpredictable accessories like oversized satin bowties and spaghetti suspenders. Ellen in my mind represents the sporty menswear look. She always seems ready to dance. She wears fabrics that breath and loves to accessorize in ways that are playful and functional. Ellen's look is in a word Fresh. The millions of women whose homes she enters through the television each day could take a cue from her ability to dress her personality. 

Simple look with a BIG impact. The tailoring on the shirt and trouser are just right. The suspenders add an element of fun and the cropped sleeve is unexpected but again lends itself to her casual personality. Confidence is sexy. 

The casual plaid is a great look for a casual day. Remove the undershirt and tuck it into a high waisted jean and the look can take on a sexier yet still simple persona.

The L words Kate Moenning smokes of confidence and sensuality. She knows how to show just enough skin while keeping the structure of well appointed blazers and hats as her style anchors. She is 100% woman, not really giving off the boyish vibe while she romps about in mens clothes. Kate to me does what Sam Ronson wants to do but can't stay alert long enough to achieve. She is Right Now lesbian chic. 

LOVE the fabric lapel flower. Pairing the fitted blazer with the flowing tank feels revealing without being vulgar. 

Kate's signature hat. The LA girls are all over this Johnny Depp meets Joan Jet morph style. Too many bracelets is never a problem either. 

Finally, my beloved Rachel. She's my business woman with a smirk. She admittedly works from a base of a dozen or so black, blue and grey suits.  Her suits are tailored the way a modern man has his suits tailored. The shoulders extend just enough to be comfortable, the body tapered in the middle to give a semblance of a waist and the legs kept lean and straight for simple and clean silhouette.  Rachel is what I call a signature dresser. There are people who follow trends, have obvious preferences, but evolving with the fashion winds. Others, like Rachel, choose one classic look and allow the current fashion climate come to them. Rachel fashions up her basic suit by adding heals and a low cut shirt to be sexy, sneakers and some crayon blue specs for a sense of fun or a simple black v-neck and an extra shock of blush for a more severe evening feel. Rachel's look has become unmistakably hers. Her glasses are almost as well known as her television show. In 2010 Rachel has shown that her smarts extend far beyond politics as she plays with her signature look and quickly seems to be solidifying herself as a style icon. 

Chuck Taylors calm any outfit down.

Taking a look you are known for and tweaking it just so (in this case changing the color) is a great way to keep your identity while still looking fresh and cool. 

So there you have it - the three leading lesbians of pop culture and the style that they've helped bring to the mainstream. I think that their looks are at once cool, comfortable and quite sexy and definitely encourage all women - gay or straight - to follow their lead and make their style choices more about what suits you and your life and style. 

- brother

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