My relationship with clothes has always been very fluid. Looking back at old photographs of myself as a kid, I was always wearing boy clothes. I had very short hair, and would often be wearing a cap and sneakers. I’m not sure who took care of my outfits at the time, but they clearly knew something I didn’t know up until recently.
Clothes were always a way for me to express myself and my desires. I had specific icons I’d look up to for their sense of style—David Bowie, Marlene Dietrich, Bianca Jagger, and Keith Richards were my greatest inspiration. It’s once I understood my gender as being non-binary that it clicked in me that these people all had a very fluid relationship with their gender expression. I wanted to be bold and masculine yet feminine and elegant, sometimes on separate days, but often all at once. I would steal clothes from the men in my life—always finding more comfort in how their clothing would fit me. Clothes targeted towards « women » have often made me feel icky. They never fitted the way I wanted them to, making me too conscious of my body and its feminine puctum.
Growing up, and slowly allowing myself to navigate the different waters in terms of gender expression and identity, I understood that the concept of gender in clothes made absolutely no sense. Clothes are supposed to make us feel like we belong to ourselves—like our external image is an extension of our internal reality. And my internal reality has often been one inspired by every role ever played by Al Pacino and my grandfather’s style in the 60s.
One of my greatest treasures is a used wooden box filled with old photographs of the men and women in my family. The men in the photos are wearing patterned button-up shirts, large trousers and oversized vests—a cornucopia of flair and style. They rode motorcycles, smoked their cigarettes and wore tinted sunglasses with a gold frame. The women had a very similar look. My mother and her friends would wear a lot of denim, large jackets, and they would flaunt very short haircuts.
The lack of binaries in the way the people in my immediate family would express themselves has always been present. It’s something I’ve always cherished.
Clothing today is a way for me to retrace the trends and looks that have existed throughout my family’s history. I like to express myself in ways that encompass the many layers that my identity holds. I love button-up shirts, large trousers and oversized vests. I enjoy layering them with my grandmother’s scarves, my mother’s jewelry, and my grandfather’s tinted sunglasses with a gold frame. Clothing isn’t just about being perceived for me, but about adorning history and creating space to grow outside the binaries that society has pushed unto us. It’s a playground to explore, perform, learn, and feel comfortable in.