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Out of Our Closets

Room for Squares

Hooray! "Project Runway" is back and boy am I excited. Who knew that a show about fashion designers could be so informative? Before the show, I had no idea that there were so many different fabrics, that it took so much work to make a garment, or that straight men designed clothes. Well, maybe Jeffrey Sebelia was a fluke. One thing you have to admit is that of all the so-called “queer" occupations, fashion designer takes the cake for being the most no-brainer.

What is it exactly about clothes or about design that is so appealing to gay men? A gay man’s fascination with fashion and clothes is a lot more involved than just a simple affinity for designer threads and togs. Just think about all the repression, all the oppression and all that time in the closet. That’s a lot of time spent picking out what to wear. Of course we’re going to want to ham it up once we’re out. As the most obvious form of self expression, gay clothing is at times louder than bombs. So bring on the flashy colors, the skimpy skinnies and the designer denims, here is a list of queer fashion staples and the messages they send.

Gay, straight, or both, t-shirts are constants of everyone’s wardrobe. But ever the opportunists, gays can turn even the most mundane of t-shirts into a flashy, body hugging proclamation. Whether cut off, muscle, or baby (in a gay man’s case, what’s the difference), the rule of thumb for any tee is: the tighter the better. If there’s a place gay men love to spend more time at than the gym, it’s in front of the mirror. And a tight t-shirt is the perfect marriage between the two. It suggests to the world that regardless of your body shape, you’re not afraid to stick your finger up at all the gawkers. Leave confidence to those in fear. All you need is a tee, extra small.

What a tight t-shirt can do for the upper body, a tight pair of jeans can do for the lower, if not more. I’ve learned that there are two things to consider when selecting a pair of jeans: the front and the back. Mainly used as gift wrap, the right pair of denims can work as both a homing beacon and a target; one side searches while the other attracts. Putting it simply, you want your jeans to be your greeting card because they cover the regions most people look at first. As such, you want them to say both, “Hi, I’m happy to see you” and “Wow, you’re happy to see me.” It would be silly to squander the attention you might elicit by imagining any other purpose.

Speaking of function, let’s look at something that is uniquely a gay man’s instrument: the man bag. Sure they come in all shapes and all sizes, but one thing is certain. They all hold more than just your office documents. From hair products and the newest electronics to the latest pocket sized edition paperback, each item placed into your purse is as carefully selected as that which houses it. The bag itself is more than a means to an end though. It has to be serviceable but it can’t clash with what you’re wearing. You have to try for top shelf brands, but not blaringly so. The only rational solution is to have more than one. A bag -- or two -- for every occasion.

As a cursory view of our population, I’ve just highlighted the basics. Of course, since fashion is really an extension of ourselves where each item you throw on puts on a separate meaning, care and precision become of the utmost importance. It’s the reason people spend so much time looking like they just rolled out of bed. Sure a lot of it is hit or miss, and a lot of it might offend people. But for gay men, that’s rarely an issue. There’s just no accounting for taste when you step out of a closet.