My style as a teenager then and now as a twenty-two-year-old, is extremely different and reflective of time periods within my life. I’ve had a very positive experience with finding my own style as I have grown older and I am grateful I have given myself the time to develop myself in this way. I’m glad that what I liked when I was a teenager, I am not likely to be found wearing now, as it means I have matured into who I feel I am meant to be.
The comparisons are most evident in my clothing as I wear baggy clothing and lots of layers now. As a teenager, I often wore tight-fitted clothing, which I was always uncomfortable with. Part of my dislike was a result of my own body image as the media pushed ideal body standards. I wore standard clothing, but never anything too on-trend. A lot of my clothing was hand-me-downs but I made the best of this. The older I got, the looser my clothing became, as I didn’t want to be constricted by tight fabrics. This sudden shift was a result of my gender identity development. My slow movement from more feminine attire to gender-neutral was gradual. After the loose clothing, I experimented with different shoes and accessories. Around this time, I began to invest in jewelry. A crucial element of any stylish outfit is the accessories; they add so much personalization.
Entering college, I had a brief switch from this new style to a more sexually mature style. I was beginning to understand my own sexuality as well as gender, and as a result, a lot of my style became influenced by queer women, because at the time I still used “she/they” pronouns. At this time, I knew I was pansexual and genderqueer in some way. Expressing myself through stereotypical feminine styles like skirts, heels, and makeup still felt like something I was comfortable with. However, the more my gender identity developed the less I wore gender role clothing. Around Christmas, I came out to my friends and partner as nonbinary and pansexual. After this, I began using “they/them” pronouns and asked those who knew how to use them. My style shifted dramatically not only for this reason but because my politics began to develop. I identify as a socialist feminist and have done extensive reading on intersectional feminism to develop my understanding of class consciousness. I had been reflecting on hypersexuality and to what extent it was empowering to me. Showing my body seemed to be something I increasingly did not feel comfortable doing. However, many people do feel confident and empowered from this, and that is a positive thing because we should be encouraging the development of one’s own sexual identity through outlets such as style. I am very grateful I was able to do this, and happy it continued.
During my sophomore year of college, I wore darker-colored clothing that I could mix and match. I grew out of flashy outfits, and because of my gender dysphoria, I stayed away from feminized colors like stereotypical pink. I wasn’t against this for other people but for me, what I wanted more than anything was validation of my gender through a more neutral expression.
Personally, I have never thought of myself as a woman, which was my gender assigned at birth. There has always been a lack of awareness in this aspect as my identity was what others assumed. My gender expression was never what I wanted nor was it something I carried about. I have always felt I am myself and what that means to me is that I don’t want to be constrained by patriarchal stereotypes. Being a girl didn’t feel right, but neither did being a boy; this is so binary and restrictive for myself and others. My gender identity is queer, but if I must label myself I am trans and nonbinary. I began to realize this in the second semester of sophomore year and purchased my first-ever binder. This changed my life. The seeming removal of my chest caused me to experience crazy gender euphoria; I looked like me. After I chopped off my hair my style and confidence kept growing.
I began to feel that I wanted to present myself in a mature yet stylish and queer way. I invested in nice dress shoes that would last me a long time and made tennis shoes, boots, and comfortable sandals a staple in my wardrobe. I am still in the closet to my conservative family and thankfully another positive thing came from cutting my hair. Strangely, my pixie-cut hair made me feel I could unconstrained gender expression. I suddenly felt comfortable wearing dresses and shirks I hadn’t worn again. I fell in love with the alteration of style and the queer joy I experienced. At first, I worried it was a way for me to remain safe around homophobic people, but it actually was me healing. It’s blissful to experience aging, and queerness all at once.
Being queer has added a layer of change which has made my life blissful. It’s okay for your tastes to change as you age, it’s not a bad thing at all. It brought me quite a bit of clarity.