All About Gaydar: Is There A Such Thing As Gay Style?

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Clothing has often been used to indicate the qualities of a person, but can it imply sexuality?

AJ-Gay dress

Photo: Horia Varlan

It's not always easy to tell.....

Alicia: “He is so cute”
Sarah: “He’s gay”
Alicia: “How do you know?”
Sarah: “By the way he dresses.”
Alicia: “Really….”
I overheard this conversation while sitting at my favorite coffee shop. I did the honor of appointing them alias names.

It is often said that your style is a representation of yourself and your qualities.  We observe many outside factors to clue us in about a person, yet clothing still remains one of the most verifying . We continue to separate people into categories based on their appearance: preps from grunge, urban from rural, and sporty from chic. The endless options of apparel  are often used to express a mass of personality traits: The Dolce & Gabbana watch allows insight into their pocketbooks, and the height of the heel showcases how much of a socialite she is.

When has this sense of representation branched into the field of sexuality?All of a sudden clothing is not only a representation of conservative or liberal, wealthy or poor, but it is becoming a representation of gay or straight.


The most surprising idea is that this is not merely conversations whispered in the streets, or overheard by me, but these conversations have reached print.
While doing my usual routine of aimlessly searching the web, I “typo-ed” across plenty gay & lesbian attire posts, ranging from the metrosexual being confused as gay posts to a NY Times article.  Let’s not forget the post that provided a  step-by-step process of “how to dress gay”


In the New York Times article, a quote stated it all:

I don’t have a clue anymore,” said Brad Habansky, whose four-month-old men’s store and salon, Guise, in the tony Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, specializes in fashionable men’s wear. “Some of the straight guys who come in, I never would have thought were straight, and some of the gay men, I never would have guessed either.”

To use fashion to classify someone’s sexuality is an issue in itself.  There has been growing commotion about the recent fashion trend of androgyny; straight women are wearing combat boots and straight men dare to wear deep v-necks.
We live in a world were being interesting has been replaced with being identifiable. The two girls at the coffee shop relied on the male’s clothing to declare his sexuality. The owner of the men’s store and salon can’t tell who from whom and apparently metro-sexual men are tired of being confused as gay.

Mother always said “never judge a book by its cover”. But it’s hard to do in a society founded on just this.

Gay, Straight, Metro-sexual, Rich, Poor, Lesbian, Socialite, Homebody. Style Me …. Me.  Please don’t style me by my sexuality.

Adriane Jefferson

is a senior at Indiana University, majoring in Journalism. Her interest is in discussing sex and relationships; focusing on every-day conversations, experiences, and encounters.
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