“You gonna dress me for a week, bitch?”
That’s how it began. A simple question punctuated with the same term of endearment that she went on to have me wear emblazoned across my chest on day one of this experiment — nay, collaboration. The first of what I hope will be many between me and my girlfriend.
She took it very seriously from the very beginning. Went so far as to enact boundaries regarding her time — she only had an hour to help me put up a shelf in my room because she also needed to spend some time taking inventory of my closet. “Where are ALL of your shoes?” she asked time and again. She planned outfits in preparation while I cooked dinner, took notes while on the train. “I have an assignment!” she even snapped once. I don’t remember what I said to prompt this outburst, but regardless, she was busy, and I was proud. My girlfriend and I were about to plunge headfirst into the kind of relationship milestone that only Man Repeller could provide by way of editorial assignment: She was to style me for a week. I was to cooperate. We were to document our journey. This is going to be fun, I thought.
And it was, as you’ll see below, where we document this sartorial safari. In the true spirit of collaboration, the aforementioned “documentation” of these looks will be Lindsay’s annotations in conversation with mine. She took such diligent notes (written almost as little love letters, which took me by surprise but also made me smile — yes, we do love doing gay shit) that I would be remiss not to include them here unadulterated and in full. Since she has given permission for them to be reproduced, that’s what I’ll do. Enjoy, and do meet me in the comments to share your favorite look.
Ed. Note: Being in a queer relationship means that sometimes your wardrobe doubles in size, and that is super fun. It’s also the reason that many of the looks you’ll see styled below are comprised of pieces from both our closets — which is really like one giant, shared closet now.
Lindsay: I wore this outfit out with you once and I felt fucking great in it. We danced for hours and I had no issues. Since I was taking your schedule into consideration (work all day with a dance audition on your lunch break), it seemed like the perfect thing to style you in to make you stand out and feel good.
Some people have a problem with the word “bitch,” probably because they’ve never been called anything worse. But I don’t, I know you don’t, and seeing it in big letters like that, on a plain black crew neck that I cut into a cropped moment not ten minutes before you picked me up the night I wore it — it just makes me laugh. Like Lindsay Bluth’s “SLUT” shirt. Since you thought this was a cute ‘fit on me and we both liked the bright colors and that ski-trip-but-make-it-TLC sort of vibe, I was curious to see what your experience would be like wearing it. I’m happy you liked it, cuz you are *THAT BITCH.*
Emma: This is, currently, my fave outfit in the history of outfits. I felt SO good wearing it — so confident and comfortable as hell. You nailed it, L.
Lindsay: I’m obsessed with this fit. I love a well-constructed jumpsuit. I love a cut that is so evocative of the time during which it was made (the 80s). I bought this one while I was doing some theater in Santa Cruz. A lot of people retire there and give the best stuff away, and a lot of the people working at the consignment shops in the area know this; it must be so fun for them. I went shopping at this special one right off the main drag — areas in the store are sectioned off and each employee is responsible for curating their own section. I was so drawn to this jumpsuit, and so shocked that no one had bought it yet. The dude who rang me up was shocked too. It was from his section and he had clearly gotten attached to this garment. He was like, “Fuck! I never got the chance to make a sample of it so I could replicate it in my size! It’s been here so long — I thought I had time! What are you gonna wear with it?” Like, grilling me. I assured him that it would be going off to a nice home in NYC and would be worn with cute boots. And since we’re on the subject — I am so covetous of your combat boots. I truly think they’re perfect — and something that I’m missing in my own ~personal~ wardrobe that I had to include them in some way.
Emma: Damn bitch, I also love this look. I felt great in it and got plenty of wonderful compliments from colleagues. 2 for 2 so far. OH! Can’t not mention my love for the shirt you put under the jumpsuit. I know you put me in it because I told you I loved it when you first got it — thank you for that.
Lindsay: When I asked you to show me your collection of camo cargo pants and we went through all 708 of them because they all really are ~very different~, you were like, “Oh these ones are my fuccboi pants,” and I was like, “Great, because here is a fire-engine red jersey that says ‘Chicks’ on it to pair them with.” Jokes aside, I love how queer women like Lena Waithe and Teyana Taylor (wink wink question mark, but ju know what I’m saying) integrate sportswear and streetwear into their day-to-day ‘fits all year round. I was channeling that style — layered appropriately for the cold — with this look. Also, some women just wear masculinity better than men — including you. Glad I had an opportunity to show that here.
Emma: Thank you thank you thank you for putting me in this. I think a lot about how I present — which I think is read as pretty femme very often, even though I feel very masculine at times. Plus my chart is craaaazy — there is a lot of masculine energy going on here, astrologically speaking. Have we talked about this?! Anyway, it’s as if we have, based on this look, and I’m really happy about it.
Lindsay: This is the part where I guess I may have cheated a bit, because you technically picked this ‘fit out yourself when we went shopping at Indigo Vintage. I was allllll for it because these are two beautifully tailored pieces and I really wanted to see you wear them for this styling adventure. To add an element that you didn’t choose yourself, I bought us this fannypack that we are going to “share” as a complement, et voila! Complete look.
Emma: Again, love this look. Thank you for letting me add the coat here — sorry I didn’t give you a chance to tell me what outerwear you would have picked before exclaiming that this leopard faux fur was perfect. This really is a collab, huh?
Lindsay: Since we started dating you have lamented SEVERAL times about not wearing a durag. On the street. In the rib joint. On the couch while we’re watching TV. “WHY AM I NOT WEARING A DURAG???” you say, as if someone had been stopping you this whole time. I guess I just wanted to support this desire of yours, so I made a durag a requirement of this look, which is also lil tiny nod to Rihanna. I love the way she’ll wear “menswear” or oversized suit jackets with a hyper feminine element like thigh-high boots or a corset/lingerie of some kind. She’ll be almost completely covered but it’s still all verrrrry sexy, which I wanted to replicate here.
Emma: Another win 10/10, I have nothing to say except for thank you for forcing me to wear a durag, which truly has been my style dream forever. I have no idea what was stopping me. (Nothing. There was nothing stopping me. Thanks for showing me the light.)
For me, this styling adventure was about way more than looks. It underscored something I already knew to be true: That my partner doesn’t just like the way I look, but actually sees me, beyond aesthetics. We aren’t only on the same page in regards to swishy pants (love them, obvs), but politically, ideologically, spiritually and emotionally as well, proven by that fact that this collab went so smoothly and that everything Lindsay put me in made me feel great. I know that happened because she centered me throughout all of this — not what she wanted me to look like, not what she wanted my clothes to “say” (despite all the text!), not what she hoped people would think about her when they saw me in looks she put together. I might just love Lindsay even more now, half because of the way she approached this project, and half because of this sweet wrap-up note she sent over with her outfit annotations:
“This isn’t the first time a partner has asked me to style them, but it’s the first time I’ve wholeheartedly agreed to do it and make it a real collaboration. Your sense of style is something I find so attractive about you; it demonstrates self-awareness. It was confirmed throughout this process that you don’t really have any boundaries when it comes to how you dress. (Also confirmed that I have a newfound affinity for garments with text on them.) You made a couple of valid offers and were very honest — but you never overstepped; you let me do my thing. And I didn’t feel the need to take you to a place that you hadn’t been before because we’d just end up in a really tacky zone and you’re too beautiful for that shit. Really. My priorities were keeping you warm, comfortable and confident. It’s far too cold to fuck around.”
Photos via Emma Bracy.