Welcome to Femme Features. Femme Features is a blog series featuring femmes from all nooks of the LGBTQIA community. These rocking folks are activists, educators, bosses, parents, entrepreneurs, and all sorts of amazing human beings. Join us as we explore femme identity as so much more than a label, but truly a way of life. You can check out all of our queer femme fashion, lifestyle, and activist profiles here.
Meet Kayla, long time friend, YA author, and overall spectacular person. We’ve been planning this feature for months. But, as I’m sure you will appreciate, Kayla’s cooler weather-friendly style made it necessary to wait for things to cool down. And then winter stuck around for so long that we kept pushing the shoot back and back. Finally, one chilly March morning we made it together to shoot. And the results are so magnificent I’m in love. Kayla is one of those people whose style I’ve admired from day one. Today, I’m honored to share these photos and this amazing interview.
Describe your brand of femme. What makes your femme unique?
I’m solidly Futch and have been for years. I have a very versatile body shape for masculine fashion, and an intense love for textiles commonly used in menswear, but my detail work is always hyperfeminine so I always land with a good balance. Even when I do complete menswear looks, bordering on drag, I always beat my face to death a’la Ester Quek to keep that balance.
If you could share one thing about being femme, something you wish non-femmes knew, what would it be?
Femme elements are always labor. I feel like Butch girls have more difficulty with tailoring, stretch vs. non-stretch fabrics, and shopping environments. But menswear, notions, and accessories are made more durable than women’s anything in the American markets. So there is labor associated with upkeep and labor associated with replacement of femme elements. Our costume jewelry wears away and breaks easily, the fabrics degrade quickly in the wash, our buttons are sown on with extreme disregard, our elastic lasts 6 months maximum. Then there is the labor of grooming upkeep and we all know how that works. Ultimately, just like butch dressing, it is all a labor of love.
How do you use your style to express your femme?
I love soft dark makeup, statement pieces/accessories, feminine hair and lingerie. I very much enjoy the idea of being unwrapped and being femme underneath anything I’m wearing.
Are there any people who inspire your style?
Ester Quek for her versatility with suits, Dita Von Teese for sticking to her aesthetic with incredible historical accuracy, and Eartha Kitt for her indomitable sexiness in form and motion.
As you have come into your own, has your style changed? How?
I tend to dramatically change my style every two years. I recently changed from a flowery sundress femme, into a minimalist grey, blue and black femme with emphasis on textiles and architectural shapes. For almost a full year, I wore predominantly 1940s pencil skirts and dresses and wore my hair in a french twist. In college, I had a beehive and wore 1960s mini dresses and Mac coats. I also went through a butch phase, but never was able to break from casual wear into suiting like I wanted at the time. I think that its good to explore many different phases while you’re young, so that you have a more comprehensive idea of what fits your aesthetic for when you get older. I already have an idea of the sort of enduring styles that I have enjoyed through all of my phases and I know what shapes fit my body well. When I begin buying expensive well-tailored pieces that are built to last, I know that I’ll be able to wear them for a large chunk of my lifetime. I don’t think I would have as much confidence about that if I hadn’t spent time testing things out.
What is your favorite piece in your closet and why?
This navy blue school girl mini skirt. It’s from the french toast brand and was clearly made for a chunky elementary school-aged child, not a full grown woman. I like it because it moves very well when I walk, and it goes well with everything. Also, because its French Toast and basically made of plastic, its easy to wash and I’ve had it for a full decade without it degrading at all.
How does your femme identity fit in with your presentation to the world?
I think being Futch accurately allows people to guestimate that I’m bisexual, which is always great. It also subtly repels straight men which is additionally fantastic.
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