Femme Features, Kate | Vintage Girly Punk
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 Kate, one of my best friends in the entire world. Honestly, I’m surprised it took us this long to get her up on the blog! But we took over Wicker Park one morning, took some awesome photos, and now here we are. Kate’s one of the most badass people I know, so it’s no surprise we’ve been so tight for so long. I met Kate at fall auditions her freshman year of college and immediately thought “who does this chick think she is, wearing a tie as a belt. Ugh I’m not going to like her at all,” and now here we are. I’m proud to introduce Kate to you all. Enjoy!
Describe your brand of femme. What makes your brand of femme unique?
I like to describe my brand of femme as “vintage girly punk.” It’s not the most eloquent of terms, I know but it’s probably the best way to sum me up. I’ve been a fan of punk rock and alternative music since my early teens and I really wear that love on my sleeve. An embarrassing amount of space in my closet is occupied by band t-shirts that I’ve cut and restyled using safety pins and my own sewing machine, my hair has been pretty much every color of the rainbow, and I can often be spotted wearing a pair of headphones as an accessory. I’m also a huge fan of vintage style silhouettes, particularly when it comes to dresses, and the winged liner and high waisted looks that come with the typical pinup look. Something about the hyper feminine style that I associate with looks from the 1940s really appeals to me, and I love to combine it with the edgy and almost androgynous look that I came to associate with my earliest punk idols (who unfortunately were male). And when you consider the rigid social structures that women had to contend with in the 1940s and 50s with the lawless attitude that punk girls adopted a couple of decades later, it feels like I’m committing my own brand of fashion rebellion every day!
As you’ve come into your own, has your style changed? How?
I spent my high school years wearing a uniform every day, so when I finally found myself in the “real world” of college, I didn’t really have a personal sense of style. I would jump from a very bohemian looking dress one day to wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans the next day, to full blown attempts at pinup style makeup the day after that. It was a wild couple of years! Once I hit 21, I realized that there were certain outfits that I really felt comfortable and confident in, and I started narrowing down exactly what elements best fit what I wanted to convey to the world. That was what I used as my starting point for building my own sense of style. I started to realize that I could put all of those elements together in subtle but unexpected ways that made a statement, but didn’t necessarily look like a costume. I could add edgier elements to a pretty dress by adding some chunky boots or a vintage army jacket. I could make my favorite band tee look more feminine by pairing it with a floral skirt and faux pearl earrings. I learned that I could walk that line between hard and soft and embrace both sides of myself without feeling like an imposter.
What is your favorite piece in your closet and why?
My #1 staple in my closet is a pair of mid-calf lace up black combat boots. I cannot exist without them. I love to pair them with a dress to create an easy contrast between the feminine and the tough, because nothing makes me feel more powerful than looking like an innocent flower who can also kick your ass. I also have a pair of high-waisted button fly black shorts that I got on clearance at Sears a couple of summers ago that I can pair with ripped tights in the autumn months and a flowy top in the summer and feel beautiful in either case.
How does your femme identity fit in with your presentation to the world?
I specifically remember having a moment in my senior year of college where I was at work and realized that I finally felt at home in my clothing. That day I was wearing a black pencil skirt, a band tee that I had cut apart and stitched back together, a cardigan, tights (I believe they were some sort of black lace pattern) and a pair of boots. This look made me feel feminine, tough, professional, and creative all at the same time; and those were all the elements of myself that I was the most proud of. That has become the general principle that I adhere to when choosing my clothes; when I look in the mirror, do I see a one dimensional person or a fully rounded girl with a personality and a heart on her sleeve? I’m a rebel with a soft heart and I’d like to think that my daily look shows to everyone I pass on the streets.
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