If there are any bonuses to how much time we’ve been forced to spend at home and out of the public this year, being able to play with our personal style is definitely one of them. And for those who are also exploring gender expression in 2020 – or who are realising that the ‘gender non-conforming’ label fits them best – finding a comfortable and individual style is something that goes hand-in-hand with figuring out our place in the world.
From chopping in our hair to completely revamping our vibe, trying out something new we’ve always wanted to do, maybe a new scent like a non-gendered fragrance like Orb Oils, or just totally flipping it, we’ve been granted the space to do it in our own time.
Deni Todrovic, an Aussie fashion editor, celeb stylist, and style expert, has shared their own experience on finding their style while exploring their gender non-conforming identity and has seven hot tips for anyone who’s currently trying to figure out what fits best for them, in all senses.
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Here are Deni’s tips, in their own words:
1. Byeee Gender Stereotypes, We Don’t Need Ya!
Think of all the gender stereotypes that are currently or have previously held you back from expressing yourself freely. Are you psychologically still bound by that Supre dress you wore to your high school formal?
Yeah, its time to say goodbye to those and now make way for all the forms of expression you’ve been longing for. This for me, meant giving myself permission to wear heels, skirts, dresses and make-up freely and without self-judgement.
However that all begun by pin pointing those stereotypes, acknowledging them and then releasing them. Releasing them, however, doesn’t mean cancelling them out. The beauty of the space in between, the space beyond the gender binary, is a freedom that lets all forms of expression co-exists.
I love a boxy Bermuda short and have a low key obsession with basketball jerseys and hoodies. Does my GNC identity mean I have to throw those away and wear skirts exclusively?
2. Safe Spaces To The Front, Pls
I will say that in the beginning, especially living in a somewhat regional town (Hey Geelong!) I really had to take stock of where the safe spaces were for me to freely self-express. For me they came in the forms of my friendship groups and two beautifully inclusive local bars, that catered to our small but vibrant Queer community.
However, those safe spaces were a crucial part of the journey. Find your own and let them envelop you in love. For me, I have to say also that self-isolation, was actually the perfect internal safe space to explore my gender identity.
So if you, like me in Victoria, are still in lockdown – use this time to explore your own in the safety of your home.
3. Get Inspired
This, my darlings, is the fun part. The second you open up the portal to authentic self-expression, its like the world triples in its options.
Having spent my adult life working in fashion and my whole life with a deep love for clothes, I had developed quite a comfort around shopping in every department of the store. However, once I came out to myself, first and foremost and then to the world – it opened up options that I had never comfortably approached before.
I began to spend more time at the make-up counter, stroll into the lingerie section, try on heels without feeling uneasy. I also began to really delve into finding inspiration online.
Looking for style icons across the various categories that I had often reserved for my cis-female clients. I started to diversify my Instagram feed with other non-binary humans whose style I admired.
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4. Communicate Your Boundaries
Another crucial part of my journey was communicating my boundaries, specifically with my parents and closest friends. Whilst in an ideal world, we would be freely embraced no matter how we present, the reality is that its never truly that simple.
In the beginning, each time I would leave my bedroom in a pair of heels or a face full of make-up, it would often be met with comments from my parents ranging from ‘why are you wearing heels again?’, ‘are you becoming a drag queen?’, ‘do you want to transition?’ – these comments were a reflection of their own fears and insecurities and they were neither constructive nor supportive of that journey.
For me I approached this by simply communicating to them that I would no longer accept these comments, that I wished to not be met with them every time I left the house because they amplified the insecurities and fears I’ve had my whole life.
That simple conversation changed everything.
5. Nothing Lasts Forever (That’s A GOOD THING)
Allow yourself the freedom to experiment and remember that just because you might want to experiment with something that may appear extreme, even to yourself those expressions don’t need to be set in stone. That could manifest by way of wigs for me, or a binder for you.
Give yourself the freedom to try it before you commit it, take it for a spin, see how it fits.
I love the idea of experimenting with wigs, have I done it yet? Not outside of Halloween. Would I do it in the future? For sure. Will it be a forever thing? Time will tell.
6. There’s No Wrong Or Wrong Way To Be Gender Non-Confirming
The thing that I compare this to, are my experiences as a gay man living in Sydney. When I started becoming more a part of Sydney’s Gay community a part of me assumed I had to wear skin-tight, nondescript, muscle tees to the Beresford on a Sunday.
It didn’t feel like me.
Similarly to the fact that no two humans must present the same, the same goes for the non-binary community. Don’t feel as though you have to slot into dressing in an androgynous way if that’s simply not your vibe.
Stay true to who you are and do what feels comfortable for you.
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7. Remember To Stop, Appreciate, And Celebrate
Remember when you got your first pair of seriously cool sneakers, the ones you so desperately begged your Mum for? Remember how good that felt? Remember how you stopped to clean them after every wear?
There are so many milestone moments along the gender non-conforming, non-binary journey, many of which will look different for each individual.
For me, when it came to specific pieces of fashion that landmarked those moments – I stopped, I appreciated the gravity of those moments and I celebrated them.
This meant spending far too much money on a pair of heeled ankle boots that I will wear to the ground with glee. Or a dress, a dress so perfect in its representation of my identity, that putting it on for the first time made me cry. Fashion, after all, is best when it creates emotion.
Enjoy the moments among the journey darlings, all those milestones are pretty bloody special!Image: Instagram / @stylebydeni