Tender Butch’s Dream Winter Wardrobe as Told by Comics Fashion
Let it be known that I do not come by any sort of fashion sense naturally. My previous winter wardrobe was whatever feels like it will keep me warm. In fact, my taste in most things has been the careful work of past and current friends and lovers in helping me learn a bit about discernment. You see, historically, I’ve suffered from a consumption problem. Does it taste good? I’m going to eat it, whether or not I “should.” Is it catchy? I’m going to listen to it. (Right now Adele’s “Hello” is playing as I type because though I am attempting to get into music, the radio is the easiest.) Is the show addictive and sexy? Guess what! I’m watching it.
However, as I age I’m finding a bit more of my own footing. I’m carving away one ex’s love of heavy metal to find the bands that aren’t just noise to me, but what I want to hear. Due to my diet I’ve become very adventurous, yet restrictive, in the kitchen. And I’m dressing myself with much more purpose than ever before. A lot of building one’s wardrobe, I’ve learned, is just looking at clothes. Perhaps I never noticed what comic characters were wearing before, but now it’s a key aspect of my reading ventures. So, without further exposition, here is my Winter Dream Wardrobe built from comics I’ve recently put my eyes on.
The bottom layer of clothing seems pretty important to me. It’s the layer you’re sweating on all day, but it’s also the layer that only the best people in your life get to see (in theory). At work I stay thoroughly bundled up regardless of HVAC decisions in order to keep my tattoos on the downlow. My pale flesh and undershirt are then only seen by friends at the end of the day and they deserve to see me in something awesome. Like this amazing tank top Turpentine is wearing in a panel of Kathleen Jacque’s Band VS Band webcomic.
One of the more difficult aspects of curating looks for me is layering. How do people know what will look good and sit well on top of everything else? Maybe it’s just experimentation. I trust Autostraddle to guide me in the right direction on many choices, and their recent article on sweaters has had me on the lookout. Which is when I came across the gem to the left. Found in the first few pages of Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, this is the clunky, chunky throwover my heart calls out for.
Look at it’s cool, casual turtleneck and wide, indifferent sleeves. Imagine all the shirts this could fit over, all the jackets I could throw on over it.
Speaking of sweaters, look at this amazing gem of warmth! I mean, I’ve been enjoying all of the fashion in Zodiac Starforce so far, but Emma’s sweater in Issue #2 has me almost drooling. It’s so cool! I love the simple color-blocking (help, fashion-people, am I using that term correctly? [Ed. note: yes!]) here with the vibrant blue and the loud pink. I mean, I really want this sweater. To the point that if you find one like this on the internet for purchase and make me aware, I may cry tears of joy. Also, she’s just so effortlessly pairing it with this simple collared shirt. This is what I mean, Reader. That doesn’t occur to me until I see other people doing it. I would just think, oh, what a great sweater, I’ll just wear it over my undershirt.
While we’re on the subject of Starforce, I’m also having a lot of feelings about their super cool team necklaces. Such great statement pieces, and not super feminine. I would like one of those too please.
Speaking of Collared Shirts
My work wardrobe is fairly simple, partially out of laziness. It’s a lot of short-sleeved collared shirts under one of three neutrally colored cardigans I own, paired with slacks and black shoes. However, I work at a college and I sometimes feel the urge to look a bit more, well, collegial. Returning to Tomine’s Shortcomings, here is a character who is just embodying the effortless work fashion I hope to achieve one day. In some ways it is the uniform of the academic, but that is the costume I want to disguise myself in on occasion. Simple, crisp white shirt, a neutral sweater (or sweater vest!), and a tweed blazer complete with elbow patches. A good Monday outfit to set the tone of the week.
A Bit of Personality
While I am on the constant lookout for a great button-up shirt, it’s not often that I find one I really love. Most of my tops are from the men’s section of Nordstrom Rack because that’s where the fun prints live, but Lumberjanes also knows what’s going on. Look at April’s great shirt! First of all, I’m really digging the rounded collars [Ed note: search “peter pan collar”]. I’m going to have to start checking out the women’s section again if there are cool collars I’m missing out on. Second, the simple star print on the mint green fabric is delightful. In later issues it is often represented as just a solid mint green shirt, probably because it is a pain to always have to draw in these tiny stars, but I like the little punch of personality this lends her very layered outfit. Under her safety gear she’s a pastel fashionista.
Adventure in the Workplace
The fashion-people I admire most are those that just look put together in simple items. I think I often look like several different pieces of clothing have just landed on my body and are complete strangers to each other. Sometimes it helps to think about having to put together a costume for an event, or for work, or for brunch, in order to make my look feel a bit more cohesive.
In Pretty Deadly, Deathface Ginny comes riding in wearing a flowing white shirt and high-waisted trousers. None of it looks overtly feminine on her, which is one of the reasons I’ve avoided high-waisted pants, and it all looks so good. This has inspired me to purchase a pair of high-waisted trousers to try out on adventurous days at work.
For Fun (and Warmth)
So, enough talk of my office-wear. What will I do for dates and the weekends? Currently, I don’t own many “fun” items. I invested most my clothing capital in office gear because it’s where I spend most of my time. But I deserve to look good out of the office too! And I’ve looked to a teenage boy for inspiration. Yes, the new Archie comics are full of delightful options, but what I like the best is the iconic letterman’s jacket.
Above you can see Betty wearing it during band practice. There’s nothing that says “I’m so relaxed” like just throwing your high school football sweater over a t-shirt and jeans, right? And since I definitely did not play football, or any sport really, in high school, it will seem even cooler. Or something.
Not Even Trying
It’s cool to put a lot of effort into something to make it look like you haven’t put any effort at all into it. People often assume this is what is happening with my hair. But I really don’t do anything to my hair, I don’t even own a comb or brush. I wish dressing myself came as easily. In Andi Santigata’s webcomic American Spirits Jen always looks like she’s just thrown on whatever was least dirty in the laundry pile, and it works for her.
Here we have an open button-up shirt with the sleeves pushed up over a t-shirt and tight pants tucked into combat boots. These are all things I already own. I now must put them together this way and pretend I didn’t have to use a webcomic panel as a reference guide.
Oh Yea, Boots
Speaking of footwear, I own a lot of it. But really I own three different kinds of shoe and then I just have variations on each one. I have Doc Martens, Loafers, and dress shoes. Going shoe shopping for me means leaving with one of these items again in a new color.
Perhaps it’s time to branch out. Maybe it’s time to try the shoe many of my slightly femmier friends already own: the slouchy boot. Here is an image of the main character from Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. In fact, I’m here for her whole outfit. The relaxed turtleneck under a double breasted coat, some fingerless gloves, and these boots. A simple running to the grocery store look that nevertheless looks put together.
Finally, after watching more YouTube fashion episodes than I care to disclose (by the way, more soft butches should be fashion blogging, some of us need help), I’ve learned that no outfit is complete without hair and make-up. Well, I wear make-up rarely, so just hair. And this haircut is my new goal. Faeyri in Volume Two of Rat Queens is rocking this amazing ‘do — and one day, it will be mine.
Now to Shopping
Thanks to a sudden urge to be more fashion conscious, these comic book wardrobes, and my lovely editor Claire’s helpful notes, I’m ready to head out and make some much needed clothing updates. I think I’ll start small, in the shopping environments I’m used to (thrift stores), but maybe I’ll even make myself a polyvore or two for practice. So, Reader, what about you? Have comic book characters inspired your wardrobe?