Lesbian fashion. It’s trendy and historical, a fashion born from necessity. Even while “lesbian fashion” is making the mainstream, sapphics styles are unique to us. We create our own trends and communities of queer fashion.
Maybe you’re first coming to terms with your orientation. Perhaps your lesbian identity is old news, but now you’re exploring your gender expression.
Maybe you just want to swap out your daily Docs and hoodie combos for something with a little more flair.
Whatever the case, this lesbian fashion guide has a little something for all the sapphics.
Notably, lesbians are wearing more than just flannels these days. The lesbian fashion spectrum ranges from the butch to femme styling scales, which a lot of the lesbian staples of today derive. How to dress like a lesbian takes tokens from both ends of the spectrum.
Masculine-presenting butch lesbians and hyper-feminine femme lesbians jumpstarted the lesbian fashion movement we’re in today. Back then, lesbians used it to identify with each other.
That need isn’t as prominent these days, with social media and the luxury of feeling safe enough to wear rainbow pins on a fanny pack. But the signals and the sentiment are still present. And now, the blend of butch and femme styles in queer fashion today is undeniable.
But lesbian fashion is more than just a butch and femme spectrum. It encapsulates several sapphic aesthetics. These aesthetics are usually visible to other sapphics—a little gay signal to other gays.
And even though it’s gotten harder than just spotting a woman wearing Dr. Martens, there are still telltale signs.
Butch Lesbian Fashion
You might think of butch lesbian fashion and lesbian clothes as something fairly casual but make no mistake. Masculine lesbians put a lot of thought and curation into their wardrobes, even when the looks are casual.
Back in the day (but frankly, not so long ago), butch lesbians often wore male-presenting clothes. Dressing this way was a tool for recognition, signaling to other sapphics their lesbian identity. But it also served as part of a political movement too. Embracing their “ugliness” defied the rules of society.
Here, “ugliness” refers to refusing to uphold feminine norms. Political butch lesbians broke away from what it meant to be a woman by embracing body hair, not wearing bras or makeup, and dressing in androgynous and masculine styles.
Now, masculine lesbians are trendy as hell. Taking staples from a butch’s closet is a “‘powerful’ new trend,” according to that ridiculous New York Post article we all remember.
Masc lesbian styles are powerful! No one can deny that. But I affirm that lesbians will always do it better. Sorry straight gals!
Butch Lesbian Fashion Staples
Obviously, the lesbian fashion spectrum doesn’t have a single answer. Not even the masc lesbian fashion spectrum does. But this is a short list of staples that pretty much every masculine lesbian has in their collection. How many items can you check off?
- White/Black T-shirt
The plain t-shirt is a simple classic but a necessary component of many butch lesbian outfits. The t-shirt must be all white or all back (or, by all means, stock your closet with both).
The versatility of a plain tee can pair well with casual dyke outfits or dress up for formal lesbian attire. For this reason alone, it’s a necessity.
- Short-Sleeve Button Down
The short-sleeve button-down is arguably the most essential item in a butch lesbian’s closet. With a massive range of fabrics, colors, and patterns, the short-sleeve button-down can work on several occasions, both formal and casual. The possibilities here are unmatched.
This dyke clothing item can also be worn buttoned or unbuttoned. Consider a graphic tee with an unbuttoned shirt layered on top. It works!
Something to consider here is sizing. Most of the time, a masculine look borrows clothes made for men. Let me be the first to say that clothing is not gendered. Unfortunately, we often have to buy them that way.
With a lot of clothing in the men’s section, the pieces can be very long on bodies assigned female at birth (AFAB). For example, I’m 5’3” and can wear a men’s small shirt as a dress if I so desire.
- 5-inch Inseam Shorts
Butches and studs need to show off that leg hair, so shorts are a staple in masculine lesbian fashion. Now, the butches might first be drawn to below-the-knee cargo shorts. And while I can appreciate pants with pockets, cargos are not the move.
5-inch inseams. This length hits right between the hip and knee. It gives some length to where the shorts will never be giving you a wedgie. And if you’re wearing boxers or boxer briefs, 5 inches is a good cover most of the time. But this inseam length still has the skin factor.
Butches with lesbian tattoos on the thigh? This is your chance.
Plus, lesbian TikTok says these shorts are the most fashionable option in the lesbian world at the moment. And with a range of inseams in my dresser, I have to agree.
- Men’s Dress Pants
Dress pants are essential for butch lesbians. I might even argue that they’re crucial for casual looks. Something about dykes dressing up is… enticing.
Plus, a masculine or “men’s” dress pant is cool enough for the straights to praise cisgender heterosexual women for being trendy. But we all know lesbians do it better.
The dress pants can go in many different directions. It’s essential to consider the color or even pattern here. While I do support a simple black, don’t discredit the options. I got a pair of hand-me-down dress pants in burgundy, something I’d have never bought myself, and they’re an easy go-to now.
Pair dress pants with the full suit jacket and bowtie (and even a waistcoat!) for the full-fancy lesbian. Or even turn this into a graphic tee and dress pant combo. I promise there’s no way to go wrong with some dress pants.
Measure your waist and inseam when shopping in the men’s section for pants. Since men’s sizing makes way more sense than women’s, you’ll find it easy to know what to buy. If you’re small like me, finding a 28” waist and 26” inseam will feel impossible. Check ASOS, Old Navy, and American Eagle online. Most places will not carry waist sizes under 30-32” in-store.
Several lesbian clothing brands also specialize in formal clothing, where finding dress pants to fit AFAB bodies is much more accessible. Kirrin Finch and Dapper Boi are two lesbian clothing brands worth checking out.
- Sports Bra
Butch lesbian outfits never include a real bra. When I say “real bra,” I mean those uncomfortable harnesses with wire underneath. Sports bras are the way to go.
Practicality and comfort are significant influences on butch lesbian styles. Sports bras as a lesbian fashion item are a direct result of that.
Sports bras (unlike most other bras) have a flattening effect on the chest. Instead of accentuating the breasts, most sports bras have to flatten power. This gives butch lesbians a more masculinizing look with every lesbian outfit they wear. For many androgynous lesbians, that’s a win.
For nonbinary AFAB sapphics, this is just one step away from binding. Okay, this was definitely my stepping stone to binding.
A jersey with any lesbian outfit has been becoming more and more of a butch and stud staple. With upward trends, I felt inclined to bump it up to the staple list. And if you’re a sporty masc lesbian, it’s definitely a must.
But you probably already own one anyway.
The rules with jerseys are simple. Any jersey. Any kind. Any color. Any season.
Another practical move on the butch lesbians’ part. Boxers and boxer briefs are simply the most comfortable pairs of underwear one can have. I’m not sure if this is a biased statement or not. But I’ll confess my entire underwear drawer is purely boxer briefs at varying inseams.
For AFAB bodies, finding boxers without a pouch for male bodies (insert eggplant emoji here) can be challenging at first. Sometimes, the pouch still works—all the power to you.
A few lesbian clothing brands I’ve tried for underwear are TomboyX and Woxer. And by “lesbian clothing brands,” I mean clothing brands lesbians use religiously.
After filling my boxer collection with both, I recommend Woxer. They’re cheaper, softer, and have better inseam lengths (in my opinion). Although, TomboyX’s collection includes amusing patterns that Woxer has never been able to compete with.
Different types of lesbians and lesbian stereotypes have been around for a long time. Which type of lesbian are you?
Butch Lesbian Clothing Accessories
After collecting the butch basics, we can move on to the accessories. What completes a butch lesbian outfit? What items in butch lesbian attire gives a look its final touch?
Most of the time, a gold chain. But you probably guessed that already.
Not every butch lesbian outfit needs a hat (arguable). But a hat needs to be in every butch lesbian’s style collection. The type of hat isn’t even that important.
The gayest of looks, of course, include a snapback worn backward. Or baseball caps (also worn backward). But a beanie also does the trick. If you live in an area that experiences various seasons, I suggest rotating between them based on the weather.
Another option for an androgynous lesbian style is a brimless hat. It looks like a cross between a baseball hat and a beanie (for its brimless nature). I got one last year, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Rising in popularity, several brands sell brimless hats. I got mine from NoBrim Co.
So hats, stock your closet with anything but fedoras.
These epic queer & lesbian haircuts and lesbian hairstyles are perfect as inspiration for your next trip to the hairdresser or (queer) barber!
- Butch Lesbian Shoes
We all know that Docs (Dr. Martens) is the lesbian shoe of choice. Arguably, Docs work for all lesbians, not just those on the masculine end of the spectrum. Boots in the winter and autumn, low-cuts for the spring and summer.
When venturing from the classic, the shoe depends on the type of dyke fashion one is aiming towards. Complete a sporty look with branded sneakers. Air Jordans have been the fan favorite for butch lesbians on lesbian TikTok these days.
Casual lesbian outfits come together with slip-on shoes or loafers. Which, of course, can still be used for fancier outfits.
- Masc Lesbian Suit Accessories
As established, a suit is the only signature dyke attire spotted by the cishet community. As proved by the “Dressing like a lesbian makes straight women cool” article.
The whole article is about straight women in suits. But it’s not just about the suit. It’s about what the lesbian adds to that suit.
A bowtie is a near-essential lesbian accessory for formal wear, like a tie but with a little more personality. Matching the color of the bowtie to either a suit vest or pair of suspenders is another excellent option.
Also, adding a classy wristwatch to this dyke outfit (or any dyke outfit) is another timeless and undeniably lesbian thing to do.
Lastly, some masculine lesbians might swap out sports bras for binders. Binders are built to compress your chest and give a masculinizing appearance. Most of the time, they are less comfortable than sports bras. The trade-off is usually some form of gender euphoria.
Binders are especially helpful for androgynous AFAB lesbians who may not always identify with their assigned gender. For example, nonbinary sapphics use binders to minimize their chest, where there otherwise might be some emotional discomfort.
Gc2b is a famous brand for binders. TomboyX also has binder alternative compression bras. As the gender-diverse community grows and gains visibility, I can only guess that binder options will continue to grow.
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Femme Lesbian Fashion
How to dress like a lesbian is a little trickier for femme lesbians. Often mistaken for straight women, femme lesbians take traditionally feminine clothing and give it a sapphic twist.
When the butch/femme dichotomy held a more tangible meaning, femme lesbian styles had higher lesbian visibility. Often, femme lesbians used hyper-femininity to signal to butch lesbians that they were queer.
Nowadays, that isn’t so much the case. Femmes have to get creative to light the queer batman signal. However, femme lesbian fashion has several staples and a collection of sapphic giveaways.
Personally, I’d say femme lesbian attire has a broader range, but dressing like a lesbian still hits key components regardless.
Femme Lesbian Fashion Staples
Unlike the butch lesbian fashion staples, the list of femme lesbian must-haves includes lesbian accessories and lesbian clothing items. As it turns out, much lesbian femininity is in the accessories.
When I asked Twitter, “When you picture a femme lesbian, what is she wearing?” The number one response included earrings. “Wacky earrings,” “fun earrings,” “absolutely insane earrings, and literally anything else.”
I live with a femme lesbian, and I have to agree. We attended an art show run by and attended by sapphic artists, and I have never seen a more extensive collection of “wacky earrings” in my entire life. Bright colors, fun shapes, miniature glass bottles of sand that another lesbian friend made for them. Anything Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus would wear definitely translates here.
Femme lesbians send the message that anything can be miniaturized and handmade for the purpose of lesbian fashion. And that anything should be.
Unsurprisingly, most femme lesbians know how to rock a dress. But femme lesbians don’t pick just any dress. It has to meet a few standards.
The perfect lesbian dress includes a floral pattern, looser fabric for a comfortable fit, and has spacious pockets for hands and phone—bonus points for the twirl effect.
The practical and comfort factors also come into play for femme-lesbian fashion choices. And that is certainly still true for picking a dress suitable for femme lesbian attire.
As you may know, the community often refers to femme lesbians as “lipstick lesbians.” Though this is phasing out. Makeup for femme lesbians seems obvious, but the key to peak femme lesbian fashion depends on the kind of makeup.
Unsurprisingly, lipstick is a must-have staple in the femme lesbian fashion toolkit. Color is less important. It just needs to match the lipstick lesbian’s signature look.
Next up, eyeliner. Artsy femme lesbians and sapphics have a particularly fun relationship with eyeliner. At the recent queer art show I attended, every femme lesbian paired wacky earrings with the brightest and boldest eyeliner. Fun colors, fun shapes. Consider the eyelid a canvas.
- Tiny Shirt and Non-Skinny-Pants Combo
Femme lesbian attire works to do two things: show off the lesbian’s femininity and send the lesbian bat signal. It’s entirely possible that no other femme lesbian outfit does this as well as the tiny shirt and non-skinny pants combo.
What do I mean by a tiny shirt? I mean a very fitting shirt. Maybe something that fits a little snugly. It definitely has a crop. Shows off a bit of skin. It probably has a fun pattern or cute graphic. Does not have to be a t-shirt, but it can be.
For the type of pants, the best option is some kind of colored dress pants with a straight, bootcut, or wide leg. The pants are really what alerts others’ gaydar. Mainly because they aren’t skinny jeans. That’s the essential factor here.
- Era looks
Another thing femme lesbians do very well is adopting the style of a specific era. The 40s, 70s, 90s, you take your pick. A few complete outfits in your wardrobe dedicated to a 1900s decade is a foolproof avenue for dressing like a lesbian in a way that doesn’t compromise your femininity.
The 90s era is the decade making the biggest comeback right now. Plaid and pleated skirts, baggy mom jeans made with real denim, pastels, bucket hats, converse, and flannels (full circle!).
Femme lesbian accessories
Accessories for fashionable femme lesbian attire are a big deal. As you know, since earrings and makeup made the “staple” list.
But this list takes a few different avenues, depending on personal styles.
- Hats for Femme Lesbians
When it comes to hats, lesbian practicality strikes again. Bucket hats and sun hats are great feminine accessories for outdoor fits. With dresses and the tiny-shirt-non-skinny-pants combo, sun and bucket hats suit perfectly. And a 90s-era look can certainly use a bucket hat for completion.
Plus, bucket hats and sun hats serve a function. They shield you from the sun! Beach days, cottagecore days, gardening days, hiking days. With any time spent in the sun, a femme lesbian outfit should include a hat with a built-in SPF.
I know I’ve already made the “lesbians wear Docs” nod a few times. Warning: I’m not done yet. Femmes and butches alike can agree: Dr. Martens. And these classics fill the wardrobe of lesbians along the masc to femme spectrum.
My femme lesbian roommate has three pairs of Doc boots. Three. But low-cut oxfords might be worth a try for femme lesbians too. And any pair of Docs in pink or pastels? A cream color? Now that is a complete femme fit.
- Denim Jacket
Maybe this item is slightly less obvious, but it’s still essential. The thing to note here is that a femme’s denim jacket is a mid-to-light wash. Darker types of denim are simply less trendy. And femme lesbians know what’s up.
Femmes can layer denim jackets with just about any outfit. But, of course, it can be paired with denim jeans for another classic 90s-era look: The Canadian Tuxedo. For anyone who lived in the 90s, we all remember Justin Timberlake. Lesbian icon.
- Handmade Items
Once again, femme lesbians integrate practicality with fashion. Absolutely anything handmade is femme lesbian fashion.
Allow me to present a list of options:
- Crocheted clothing: hats, shirts, cardigans, tote bags.
- Knitted clothing: hats, mittens, sweaters, socks.
- Jewelry: earrings, bracelets, necklaces. Can be made from ceramic, clay, wood, string, and yarn, literal garbage (upcycled).
- Tattoos: my roommate does stick and pokes out of our house.
- Embellished clothing: This includes anything that’s been added to since purchase. Including but not limited to: embroidered designs, anything that’s been painted, and pieces of clothing that have been cut up and re-sewn.
Lesbians are creative and bold. It only makes sense to translate hobbies and creative outlets into femme-lesbian fashion statements.
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Futch or Stem Lesbian Fashion
“Futch” and “stem” are both blends of butch (or stud for Black lesbians) and femme lesbians. Futches fit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between butch and femme. Not strictly butch, not strictly femme.
That being said, futch fashion draws from both butch and femme lesbian styles. So if you find yourself somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, consider this lesbian fashion guide a pick-and-mix.
Choose which items of the butch and femme staple lists suit you best! What combinations can you mix and match for another display of lesbian fashion?
Some lesbians in this territory might wear more masculine clothing but accessorize with feminine items. For example, a futch might wear men’s dress pants with a plain tee and pair them with floral sunglasses. Or fun lipstick and eyeliner. Or a tote bag that she painted an aloe plant on.
Futch lesbians might also dip into butch lesbian styles while maintaining parts of their bodies’ feminity. For example, pairing men’s dress pants with a crop top shows off some skin and curves while leaning into masc lesbian fashion.
Futches can extend this to wearing masc lesbian clothing with traditionally feminine patterns, jewelry, makeup, feminine hairstyles, etc.
What matters is that, at the end of the day, you choose a style that works for you. Butch lesbians, femme lesbians, and lesbians in between, dressing like a lesbian is powerful. And since you are a lesbian, you are, in fact, always dressing like a lesbian.
Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this lesbian fashion article! Did we miss lesbian clothes, lesbian fashion trends, or lesbian clothing brands? Let us know!
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