Dressing More Masculine Has Made Me Feel Sexier Than Ever

No matter how much I love an outfit that I've put together in the morning, I'll often pause before stepping out the door, look in the mirror and ask myself, "Is this outfit feminine enough? Will people find me attractive?" — and I find this completely horrifying.
Years of conditioned compulsory heterosexuality (also known as heteronormativity) and internalised misogyny have had wide-ranging impact on us women and femmes. But it's particularly prevalent in our style choices, as so much of what is considered to be 'feminine' in fashion caters to the male gaze.
Don't get me wrong — I'm still a big fan of tight pants, mini skirts and low-cut tops, but I have to face the fact that a big part of why I like them is because I've been taught that they make me look more womanly... And that's the most ridiculous thing ever.
I used to fall in love with sports jackets or cargo pants in shops, admiring how cool and assertive they made me feel, and how attractive I found myself in them, then end up putting them back on the rack because I was concerned they weren't feminine enough.
At the same time, I would end up buying dresses and skirts that I didn't actually like but that I felt somehow affirmed my womanhood and that I thought others would prefer. And slowly but surely, everything in my wardrobe made me feel uncomfortable, and like the complete opposite of who I felt I was — a bi woman who loved masc and femme women's fashion equally, but had no way of knowing how to do both.
Culturally, we've come a long way in recognising that clothes can be a really positive form of gender expression. At the same time, our gender shouldn't have to dictate the clothes we put on our backs. But it still didn't stop me from having this automatic response to style on an individual level for a long time. It turns out that the conservative, old-fashioned agenda we were fed growing up is sometimes hard to shake.
For too long, I would automatically place garments (that really have no intrinsic gender value), into masculine and feminine categories and then convince myself I had to be one or the other. As a concept, it goes against everything I believe about gender, creative freedom and sexual liberation, and I was tired and upset by feeling like I had to perform in a contradictory way when it came to my clothes.
So when trends like the blokette aesthetic and dressing for the female gaze started becoming popular among women on TikTok and on style icons like Bella Hadid, I found it unbelievably liberating. I never thought I'd see the day when I felt genuinely sexy wearing a basketball jersey and baggy pants. But ever since I feel like I've been given permission and validation by these trends to start wearing more 'masculine' garments like these, I've never felt sexier.
The beauty of these aesthetics is also that while they embrace the masc style, they also equally welcome the feminine touches that I don't want to leave behind. For me, it's actually the blending of these two styles that define the look and set it apart from previous aesthetics.
If you follow more traditional rules of fashion, you might look at these kinds of outfits and think, "But they don't really go together." And the truth is that no, they didn't before, but we've chosen to reimagine gender, sex appeal and femininity through our wardrobes by choosing to showcase all our preferences at once. And it may look eclectic and mismatched, but that's kind of the whole point.
Thanks to these new cores, I can throw on a jersey and baggy shorts with some cute Mary Janes and a diamond necklace, and have the outfit look strangely and wonderfully cohesive. I finally feel perfectly balanced with the masc and femme sides of my personal style.
It was a long but wonderful process of working out that the ways I wanted to express my gender through my wardrobe weren't mutually exclusive, and because of it, I've made some of the best style choices I think I might have ever made recently. And there really is no more affirming feeling than looking in the mirror at yourself and wholeheartedly saying, and believing, "Yep, this is me."
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