Femme Feature – Hayley
Welcome to Femme Features. Femme Features is a 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.
Hayley is a Chicago local with an always evolving and always stunning sense of style. Her journey started a few years ago when she came out and began to embrace fashion that reflects her playful personality, with calls back to uniforms mixed with video game character vibes.
How do you identify yourself?
I identify myself as pansexual and polyamorous. Gender is kind of something I’ve been playing around with a little bit, but for now, I’m definitely she/her until I get that sorted in my life. Lately, I’ve been dressing, but also feeling and acting a little more androgynous. I really do appreciate people who do androgyny well. Like Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye.
How would you describe your personal journey with style?
I went to a private Catholic school, and I had to wear a lot of plaid skirts and things like that, so I still have kind of a fondness of uniform. I would also always try to have little tiny rebellions. They were like “you can’t wear a certain kind of shoes” and I would try to sneak out and wear them. I didn’t really get in trouble because I think I was well-liked by the teachers.
But I would try to break some rules a little bit. My mom was always very encouraging of whatever style I took hold of, or of what I wanted to do. So, if I was into 70s flower child, she would buy me a bunch of peasant shirts. She actually bought me this jacket and these shoes. She was like, “wow this reminds me of marching band when you were in it. You look like you would wear this.”
She’s very encouraging of all the weirdness my style has gone through over the years. So once I ditched the uniform I moved from there to trying to find my own style, and then eventually I turned 30 and was like “alright, I’m just going to be playful with it”. I started going to concerts and festivals and things and I felt like I was being more myself dressing like that than when I was wearing stuff fork work. Now I’m embracing the bright colors, or whatever I feel like doing.
When and how do you think your journey in to that started? Was it when you turned 30?
I think it was starting to ramp up about 28 or so when I was starting to really think about how I dress or how I wanted to dress. At first I was like “I want to get rid of all my clothes and be a minimalist and yadda yadda” and finally I started going to the festivals and I was like “I’m having a lot of fun with what I’m wearing to these things and I wish I could do this every day.” and it’s like, why not though? I obviously can’t wear this stuff to work, but I do enough stuff on the weekends or just sitting at home looking fun. I like being playful with it and having fun with what I wear.
Who are your queer style icons
I already mentioned Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye. The way he does things is just amazing. His heels are always spot on. Shoe game: Strong. I’m trying to think of others. That’s definitely a tough question, but he jumps out right away, immediately.
Can you talk some about your favorite pieces in your closet? How do you feel when you put them on and has an aesthetic that you really like surprised you?
Actually, the first one with the flower top? I put that together one day randomly. I was trying to get an idea of what I wanted to wear to a party and I threw it together and I was like “I feel like a video game character”. Then I was like, “you know what, it’s some sort of post-apocalyptic sort of thing.”
I didn’t think that those particular pieces went together, and I eventually just tried them anyway, so that was probably the most surprising combo. I think as far as favorite pieces in my closet go, it’s really hard for me to say, “This. This is my favorite.” but I have this really flowy black sweater and it’s really plain, but it’s soft and I can wear it to work. It still feels like I’m breaking the rules a little bit. It’s black, it’s flowy, it’s dark, the sleeves are long. It’s comfy and nice.
How does your style reflect your queer identity?
I would say that about 28 is when I came out on facebook. I didn’t try to have the private conversations with people. I was like “You know what I’m going [make a blanket statement]. Everyone on my friends list will know. I think that was around the same time that I was like “I can be out about who I am, I can finally let go of what people think, and start doing what I want with fashion.”
It kind of started as a “Now I can live my life openly, now I don’t have to feel sneaky and like I’m breaking rules or anything like that, now I’m just being me.”
What advice would you give someone who is just starting to explore their personal style?
All the rules that you’ve been taught? Ignore them. If you’re drawn to wear this skirt, and you want to wear this shirt, but you think they don’t go together? Try it. Because it might work out. And even if it doesn’t, pulling it off isn’t how good it looks, it’s how you feel. So if you feel stunning in it, and you’re like “I like both of these things and I like them together and I’m going to wear them out!” do it. Because again, life is too short to not have fun with what you’re wearing and how you’re dressing.
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