Butch and tomboy style is hard to pin down. It spans from the utilitarian, functional styles of the working class butch labourers who were fundamental to the lesbian bar culture of the 20th century, to the dapper influences with impeccably tailored three-piece suits, cravat optional. It pulls from sportswear, kids' sections and charity shops and is characterised, more than anything, by a kind of inventiveness.
In part this is because a lot of the clothing characteristic of butch or tomboy style isn't available through mainstream outlets. If it is available, it is separated by strict gender divides between collections. Even though unisex or androgynous clothing collections have become the fashion industry's method of choice for demonstrating a kind of queer, feminist politics, those collections do not necessarily cater to people who identify as butch or tomboy, and they are few and far between.
Throughout the week of 100% That Butch, we've worked to undo stereotypes and celebrate all the different ways there are to be butch. One of these stereotypes is that butch style is just one look, and it's a look modelled on men. This just isn't true. Take the case of D Mortimer, one of the interviewees for this piece and the creator of the Lezbag which, they claim, was ripped off on the high street. While this is awful in itself, what really got them was that they put it in the men's section: "If you are gonna rip off a style that was born from butch culture, and butch style and put it on a cis male mannequin, it completely erases all the butch and trans masc people who have influenced me and my style. It perpetuates the myth that butch people aren’t fashionable and that cis men are always the forefront of fashion and cis gay men – I know a whole host of fashionable cis gay men but it is a lie to erase the butches that are setting the trends at the exact same rate."
As it's a style that can't be defined by one person, we decided to speak to several people about what butch and tomboy style means to them. They each come at it from different angles, spanning different heritages, style preferences and genders, but what they all show is that despite stereotypes to the contrary, butch or tomboy style is deeply fashionable.
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