This article explores the transformative power of fashion in embracing one’s authentic self.
In the past, I often struggled to fully embrace who I truly was, feeling constrained by societal norms and its expectations. Exploring my identity through fashion has been a crucial and transformative journey that has significantly elevated my confidence and strengthened my sense of self. With each outfit I put together, I discover new facets of my personality, sexuality and identity as a whole, and express them in ways I never knew were possible. From the choice of pants or shirt to the choice in shoes and accessories, these small details all play a big part in exploring and affirming me as an individual. Fashion has given me the power to communicate my innermost thoughts and emotions as I experiment with different styles, colors, patterns, and aesthetics. Fashion has become a powerful tool for my self-discovery journey, enabling me to embrace my uniqueness and celebrate my individuality with pride. Embracing my true self through fashion has not only elevated my confidence but also enriched my life, metaphorically and physically I now wear my pride on my sleeve, and there is no going back.
Growing up, back-to-school season always left me full of nerves. This time of year can be especially hard for other 2SLGBTQ+ youth, so if you’re feeling anxious as September approaches, I hear you – you’re definitely not alone! Something I DID however always look forward to is back to school shopping, I would spend hours with my parents at the mall choosing new pieces to add to my wardrobe.
Back-to-school season can be an excellent time to celebrate your fashion journey and understand what makes you happy in terms of style and self-expression. As you head back to school, whether it’s high school, college, or any other educational institution, it’s an opportunity to embrace your authentic self and explore your forever evolving identity through what you wear.
As you navigate this exciting time, remember that fashion is not just about following trends or what your favourite Tiktoker wears but about embracing what makes you feel happy, confident, and comfortable. It’s essential to be kind to yourself and recognize that fashion is a journey. Your style and preferences may evolve over time, and that’s perfectly okay. Use this back-to-school season as an opportunity to explore your unique fashion choices and discover what brings you joy in the realm of fashion.
“Gender-affirming fashion” refers to clothing and accessories that support and validate an individual’s gender identity. It is a tool that recognizes and respects a person’s gender expression, helping them feel more comfortable, confident, and aligned with their authentic self.
Gender-affirming fashion can take various forms, depending on an individual’s unique identity and style preferences.
Gender-affirming fashion often includes clothing that is not strictly associated with any particular gender. This may include unisex or gender-neutral designs such as button-up shirts, t-shirts, jeans, hoodies etc
This type of fashion embraces styles that go beyond traditional gender norms. For example, it may include skirts, dresses, or heels designed for individuals of any gender who feel comfortable and empowered wearing them.
For some individuals, gender-affirming fashion involves undergarments like binders that compress the chest, providing a flatter appearance, which can be essential for those seeking to affirm a masculine or non-binary gender identity.
Accessories (jewelry, scarves, ties, hats, shoes etc) can play a crucial role in gender affirmation, allowing individuals to express their gender identity in subtle or bold ways.
Overall, gender-affirming fashion is about empowering an individual’s identity through what they wear. At the end of the day we all wear fabric, why should fabric have genders associated with them anyways? If something makes you feel validated and beautiful you have definitely chosen the right outfit.
Fashion allows people to communicate who they are, what they believe in, and what they value without saying a word. Clothing choices and styles can all serve as a form of self-expression, allowing individuals to showcase their unique personalities and identities. Wearing clothing that aligns with one’s authentic self can boost confidence tremendously. When people feel comfortable and confident in their outfits, they tend to exude self-assurance and carry themselves with pride, positively impacting their interactions with others and their overall self-esteem. As individuals experiment with different styles and aesthetics, they may uncover aspects of themselves they didn’t realize existed, contributing to a deeper understanding of who they are.
For individuals who don’t conform to traditional gender norms, fashion offers a way to challenge and redefine those norms. By choosing clothing that goes beyond societal expectations, people like me can express their gender identity authentically and advocate for greater inclusivity and acceptance. Whether it’s through bold fashion choices, unconventional styles, or clothing that represents cultural background or values, fashion empowers people to celebrate their individuality – and I think that’s a beautiful reality.
By expressing your true self through fashion, you can lead a more fulfilling and authentic life while inspiring others to do the same.
Believe it or not, my journey with fashion started in thrift stores. Thrift stores often have a wide range of clothing options and since they carry second-hand items, you can find a diverse selection of clothing that may not be available in traditional retail stores. Not to mention, gender-affirming fashion can sometimes be costly, thrift stores offer budget-friendly options, making it more accessible for individuals to experiment with different styles and find clothing that aligns with their self expression.
From my experience, thrift stores generally foster a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere. When I started exploring gender-affirming fashion I felt more comfortable browsing and trying on clothing in thrift stores knowing I could express myself authentically without fear of discrimination.
Additionally, buying second-hand clothing from thrift stores promotes sustainable and ethical fashion practices. By reducing the demand for new clothing production, thrift shopping helps lower the industry’s environmental impact, allowing you not only to look good but also feel it.
During this year’s back to school shopping, consider hitting up your local thrift store before the mall.
Dresses/Skirts: FIt & flare, Maxi dress, Sun dress etc
Blouses and Tops: Blouses with ruffles, lace, or floral prints
Flowy Fabrics: Opt for flowy and soft fabrics like chiffon, silk, or satin. These materials drape beautifully and can give your outfit an ethereal and “feminine look”
Pastel Colors: These soft and delicate colors are often associated with femininity
Accessories: Jewelry, bows, ribbons, or headbands. Statement earrings with pearls or gemstones can also elevate the femininity of your outfit.
Heels: Wearing heels can give your look an elegant and feminine boost. Choose from pumps, kitten heels, or strappy sandals in various colors to match your outfits.
Wrap Tops: Wrap-style clothing can be flattering and enhance your curves, giving off a feminine and sophisticated vibe.
@itgetsbettercanada It's #backtoschoolseason and this year our friend @alypasta on tiktok is here with some tips and inspiration on Transmasc fashion and incorporating femme pieces! #BackToSchool #backtoschoolfashion #ItGetsBetterCanada #Explore #Queer #Trans #Femme #fashioninspo #fyp ♬ original sound - It Gets Better Canada
Blazers: Look for classic colours like navy, charcoal, or black
Button-Up Shirts: button-up shirts are a staple of “masculine fashion.” Opt for styles in solid colors or subtle patterns like stripes or checks
Trousers and Chinos: Straight-leg trousers or chinos are versatile and can be dressed up or down for various occasions. Stick to neutral colors like khaki, gray, or navy
Denim Jackets: They are perfect for casual and layering looks
Graphic Tees: Graphic tees featuring logos, slogans, or artwork that align with your personal style
Leather Accessories: Belts, wallets, and bracelets
Military-Inspired Clothing: field jackets, cargo pants, or combat boots.
Sports Jackets: Casual sports jackets, like bomber-style or Harrington jackets, can add a relaxed and “masculine vibe” to your wardrobe.
@itgetsbettercanada We are back with more outfit inspo for #BackToSchool season! Our friend @Notyourdaddy put together some gender affirming fits to help inspire! #fashioninspo #masc #Explore #ItGetsBetterCanada #backtoschoolfashion #backtoschoolseason #QueerYouth #genderaffirming ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE - Queens Road, Fabian Graetz
Neutral Colors: Stick to a neutral color palette that includes black, white, gray, beige, and earth tones, these colors are versatile and can be mixed and matched effortlessly
Oversized clothing: Experiment with oversized clothing, like boxy shirts, jackets, and sweaters. This style is inherently gender-neutral and can create a fashion-forward and edgy look
Button-Up Shirts: Opt for styles with clean lines and minimal detailing
Wide-Leg Pants: Wide-leg pants or culottes can offer a gender-neutral silhouette while being comfortable and stylish
Blazers: Opt for styles that are tailored but not overly feminine or masculine.
Unisex Footwear: Look for unisex or gender-neutral footwear options like classic sneakers, loafers, or oxford shoes.
Layering: Experiment with layering to create dimension and depth in your outfits. Mix different textures and styles to achieve a unique androgynous look
Accessories: Unisex watches, minimalist jewelry, and unadorned bags can complement an androgynous style
Gender-Neutral Graphic Tees: Choose graphic tees with designs that are not overtly gender-specific. Abstract patterns, geometric shapes, or neutral slogans can be great options.
Jumpsuits: Jumpsuits are a versatile and trendy option for androgynous fashion, offering a sleek and gender-fluid look
Fashion is about embracing clothing that resonates with your individuality and personality. Have fun mixing and matching different pieces to create a style that feels authentic and empowers you to express your unique self. Hone in on how what you’re wearing makes you feel, not on how you think it’ll make you be perceived.
Ethan Berkeley-Garcia (He/Him) is a pansexual actor, singer/songwriter and model from Brampton, Ontario. He currently has released two songs which are on all major streaming platforms and hopes to release a debut album in the near future. You may have seen Ethan on television as a “sidekick news anchor” for CBC’s Recap, onstage in a plethora of musicals including but not limited to Newsies, Hairspray and The Little Mermaid or in various magazines. Besides his creative pursuits, Ethan is a huge advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ rights and continues to use his art and platform to foster equality for all.