Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anatomy of Pink Kneesocks

A post on Asexual Curiosities got me thinking about how I express asexuality through my personal style. In a comment to that post, I wrote:

Actually I like [clothes] that are so over-the-top girly, they make fun of it. Like the whole Japanese “fruits” aesthetic. I don’t wear entire outfits like that, but I like the style. Also, I like clothes that are funny or unusual. I’ve worn some very strange outfits in my time. Maybe that’s some version of an asexual presentation, because I’m focusing on something, but it’s completely unrelated to sexiness.

(Nor was I focusing on current trends, ease, or a certain gender presentation.) Writing this comment brought me back to a few years ago, when I was meeting a guy I kiiinda liked. By that, I mean I was trying to figure out whether or not I was romantically attracted to him. If I was, it only lasted for a few days. But even so, I had the desire to "impress" him at a certain event. I was able to dig back and find a picture of what I wore. It looked like this:
  • A Clash t-shirt
  • A blazer, striped with different shades of blue
  • A short denim skirt
  • Pink leggings
  • Pink and white striped kneesocks
  • Sparkly purple slippers
Now that I think about it, this outfit screamed "I am asexual!", a thing I never told him out loud. Clothes may seem superficial, but they expressed something important when words failed me. I wouldn't call it a "sexy" look by any means. (At least, not to the average 20-something American male.) It wasn't something that would traditionally be read as either straight or lesbian. At the torso level, it said something like, "Why yes, I do like punk rock and hanging out in libraries reading the classics." But below the knee, it became totally eccentric. It was saying, "Thrift shopping? Unicorn riding? Discussion of obscure Swedish popsongs? I'm your girl. Sex? Not so much." But none of this was going through my head; I just wanted to wear something that would make me feel confident.

I can think of similar stylistic choices throughout the years, both pre- and post- asexuality realization. Maybe the most obvious was the outfit of t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers that I wore to clubs during my months of study abroad. The outfit completely ignored the sexual/romantic intentions of the place. I don't remember feeling awkward in my casual clothes, maybe because they also conveyed important facts. In my jeans and sneakers, no one ever hit on me, allowing me to dance in peace. If I put on a skirt and heels, that changed.


Anonymous said...

Nice outfit. Have recently been doing a Buffy marathon, and it occurs to me that many of Willow's early outfits say, if not asexual, then at least in some way not having recieved the memo about sexuality. So geekiness + oddity can be a useful indication. That's good. I like geekiness + oddity.

Ily said...

Hee, thank you. I've actually never seen that show. I know. If there were some TV-watching card, mine would be revoked.

I have a friend who once said that geeks were the most sexual people she knew. However, they do tend to be people who have strong interests other than (or at least, in addition to) sex or dating.

Anonymous said...

I've only recently realized (at 23) that I'm asexual, but from about age 10, I instinctively gravitated towards towards modest, boring clothes (jeans and sweatshirts). I thought at the time that it was simply because I wasn't interested in fashion, but now it makes even more sense. And I'll wear silly printed pajama pants all weekend long if I can get away with it.
--anthro ace

Kammerson said...

I wish you had a picture what you wore lol. Now that I think of it, I never ever ever purposely dressed to be "sexy". My style tends to be simple yet stylish but nothing overtly "come up and see me some time". Besides, I like to be mysterious if that's something. Love your blog btw.

Sciatrix said...

Oh, huh... this is probably part of the reason for my fondness for jeans and (generally baggy) t-shirts above all else. Because for me, that's what's comfortable, and the awesome thing about being ace is that what I want out of my clothing is my first priority, hands down--pretty doesn't have to come into it.

Signaling that I'm not interested is a pretty good addition, too.

Ily said...

@Anon: Congrats on your recent realization! Now, if you had Spongebob Squarepants pajamas, that would be ever more asexual. :-)

@Kammerson: Nothing wrong with a little mystery. And thank you!

@Sciatrix: I'm a HUGE fan of jeans, although I find fitted/tighter styles more comfy. I tend to have sensory issues with clothes that are too loose. Come to think of it, I don't want to attract people sexually with my look, but if I could attract people who were somewhat like-minded, that would be nice.

Demi Anon said...

Hey Ily! I've enjoyed reading the thoughtful posts on your blog for a long time now and I've finally come out of lurking! After thinking for a bit, it seems super obvious that aces would choose asexy clothes, but initially I was amazed that something like that could be subconscious... Like picking out a set of clothes and wearing it, thinking, "I like being in this!" without realizing that 1. it's extremely asexy and 2. it gives all the right signals (not interested). It's like having your subconscious brain work it out for you and not even knowing that until much later... :/

Anonymous said...

On the one hand, when it comes to getting dressed, it is my mood that dictates how I look; I don't even think about the actual clothes. It is almost second nature. On the other hand, I am very self-conscious, thinking about every move I make and every word I say before taking action.

Other than that, though, I completely understand where you're coming from, Ily. And I must say: that outfit sounds perfect.

Ily said...

@Demi Anon: Thank you, it's always nice to see someone delurk!

@Anon: Thanks! I'm pretty self-conscious as well. Maybe that's one thing I like about clothing. You can really go with your instincts, but if your instinct is wrong, nothing too bad happens.