Illustration: Helen Frost
Until relatively recently, a stereotype persisted that gay men dress well and lesbians do not. We’re the ones with the plaid shirts and awkward beanies, while they run fashion magazines and know far too much about scarves. It’s presumably why Lesbian Eye for the Straight Guy never made it past the pitching stage.
But pre-2010s stereotypes are wrong: lesbians have historically had exceptional style. Tailored suits are our forte. We wore Birkenstocks and mullets before they were cool. We look fitter than any other demographic in a turtleneck. We also inherently understand what lots of straight guys do not: that everyone looks good in a white vest or T-shirt and properly fitting jeans.
Indeed, if there is one group best suited to advise straight men on fashion, it is probably lesbians. We’re more objective than the people who fancy them, many of us know our way around the menswear section and we too know what it takes to pull women. Without further ado, straight men, here are some fashion tips from myself and other lesbians.
Stop being so embarrassed!
Of all the gender and sexuality combos, straight guys are arguably the ones who take the least fashion risks. Many decide what they like (trousers, hoodie, Nike trainers) and then stick with it for the rest of their lives. But unless we’re talking about STIs, risk-taking really can pay off – and that extends to style choices.
“Don’t be afraid to show a bit of stomach,” says Ellie, 23. “Mullets are incredible,” says 28-year-old Charlotte. “If all straight guys dressed like gay guys in the 70s, maybe I wouldn’t be a lesbian,” adds Jessie, 30.
Rachel, 28, recommends branching out into the women’s section. “Please experiment with colour, patterns and texture!” she says. For Indi, 23, a bit of nail varnish does the trick. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud lesbian, but it just throws me off when a man wears black nail polish. Like, I’m hot and confused.”
Wear exactly one piece of jewellery
Every lesbian knows that wearing one piece of jewellery immediately gives you an understated shagger energy. That’s why we always keep a stack of rings (to rotate) on our bedside table, or a single dangling earring. You could be wearing a completely plain, nondescript outfit, but a flash of silver or gold can transform it into a look.
While lesbians are partial to a thumb ring and/or chain, a simple forefinger ring can work for straight men, according to lesbians. “It can look a bit softboi obviously, but I do think a signet can elevate an outfit,” says 24-year-old Naomi.
Others swear by a little neck chain: “Take tips from Paul Mescal and just go topless with a chain,” says 24-year-old Rhi. “That is something that queer women, straight women and gay men can agree on.”
Alex, 27, goes as far as saying that wedding rings are a “look”. “Wedding rings are sapphic and so sexy!” she says. “I was tricked by a cis man on TikTok the other day.”
Socks: keep them on!
This one came up a lot while I was canvassing lesbians for this piece. I had no idea that so many straight men were walking around without socks on. If that sounds like you, please stop it. It gives everyone a weird feeling – like hearing an adult say “mummy” – and you will get blisters.
“I feel shocked when I see a man wearing shoes or trainers and no socks. I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Shakes me to my very core,” says Charlie, 27.
The right pair of socks can also make a look. “Invest in proper nice socks and match them,” says Sarah, 22. “And never wear trainer socks. Wow.”
Find the perfect pair of jeans
At some point (2008? 2009?) straight guys just largely stopped wearing jeans – and those who still do tend to be barristers with man buns in expensively ripped skinny denim. Where did all the good jeans go?
The thing is, jeans can look really good if they’re the right cut and fit – which isn’t always easy, but is worth pursuing. “Straight men don’t know how to find the right jeans,” says Eli, 26. What are the right pair of jeans? “Anything classic. Levi’s. Lee. Wrangler. Black or blue. Not too skinny, not too baggy, and hangs nicely on the waist.”
When it comes to what to pair jeans with, the lesbians I ask unanimously agree that a plain white T-shirt or vest always works. Very James Dean. Much mystery. Do not – I repeat: do not – ever combine blue jeans and a collared shirt, unless you want to look like a Jeremy Clarkson fanboy on his way to the rugby.
Avoid getting really ‘into’ brands
Supreme is basically Pokemon cards for adult men. So are most brands. All that an Aries Arise sweater and bucket hat says is, “I have money and this is what I chose to spend it on.” Which is obviously fine if that’s what you’re into. But also, avoiding big brands and not adhering to trends is a bit like having zero online presence: very chic.
This actually goes for all genders and sexualities. But today we’re talking about straight men. “Wear trainers that nobody owns,” says Eli, “and T-shirts that no one can find.”
Not a style tip per se, but this is something that a lot of lesbians pointed out. And when I say “a lot”, I mean double figures. Because while style is important, how you smell is arguably even more so (this is a mantra that gay men, especially, seem to adhere to).
If you smell like Tom Ford or fresh laundry detergent, people won’t care if you’re wearing plastic bags sewn together, or a full Bape tracksuit, or even the undercover cop uniform of a Superdry T-shirt and padded black gilet. So wash your clothes at least once a week and invest in a fragrance.