In the last year of my marriage, I built myself a beautiful wardrobe. My then-husband and I had, and still, have, a house in Toronto, with three bedrooms and hardly any closet space in any of them.
So I built one, with plans I found on Pinterest, lumber from Home Depot, and help from my family. I stained and painted and hammered and nailed, and my step. Dad brought an enormous length of rope to keep it square and level during construction. When it was finished, all my clothes fit on the steel-pipe hanger rod, with shoes on the bottom and luggage on the top.
I could see all my clothes, all at once. It was very organized and tidy and, it turned out, it didn’t solve anything.
In the last year of my marriage, I came out. My then-husband was the first person I told, and for a year we tried to work it out, and it was organized and tidy but, in the end, I moved into the basement.
I would not have considered myself a “dress person” — I don’t know what type of person I would have described myself as, which was perhaps the problem.
I had much less closet space (which is both real and also a metaphor) and, as it turned out, 30 dresses.
I would not have considered myself a “dress person” — I don’t know what type of person I would have described myself as, which was perhaps the problem. I would not have considered myself a dress person, but the collection of sensible sheaths, patterned wraps, and long-sleeved mini dresses said otherwise.
They weren’t my dresses, or they weren’t anybody’s, or they could have belonged to roughly anyone who worked in an office and was looking for a standard, appropriate dress.
And they are all mostly gone now, save one or two in case I have to go to a baby shower or a luncheon on short notice. (A short-notice luncheon has not happened to me, ever, but I very much like to be prepared.)
My remaining clothes hang in my new bedroom on a steel pipe that is used both as water intake and as a clothing rod, unlike the one in that wardrobe I left upstairs. But there are gaps that I have been trying to fill in.
I started by confronting the most immediate questions of lesbian dressing: Should I get a maroon suit? A selection of patterned button-ups? What can I wear so other women know I want to have sex with them? Or at least grab a coffee. But now that I was no longer looking for clothes that “A Woman” would wear, I was wary of looking for clothes that “A Lesbian” would wear. These new clothes had to be mine.
It turns out I’ve always liked tank tops and little jackets and blazers with jeans or my favorite pants in the world, the Banana Republic Sloan pant, which come in petite and are ankle-length, stretchy, and made in a variety of solid colors and patterns.
The ones I had still fit me and my new life, so I kept them. I wear them with ankle booties now or this excellent pair of fur-topped loafers I got at Winners (they are oxblood, and there is a gold chain across the toe, and I love them so much). Variations on this outfit got me through fall and winter.
Now it’s warming up a little bit, and the spring and summer section of my closet needs work. It’s a lot of soccer clothes (Very gay! Not suitable for work!) and two pairs of white jeans (to wear with tank tops and jackets after the May long weekend, because rules are essential).
Though I have never considered myself a dress person, I have spent a lot of time studying the romper. I believe in the debate “Be It Resolved: Fashion Seeks to Infantilize Women” one could hold up a romper, a garment for a literal child, and be done with it. But like a lot of opinions I held about myself, that’s changed in recent years: I own two rompers, and I love them both. One is printed with pineapples and has pompoms on it! What’s not to like?