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5 Masculine Black Lesbians Share Why They Love Menswear

Being a masculine black lesbian can sometimes result in dealing with assumptions and accusations. One of those assumptions is that when you embrace your masculine side, you must want to be a man. False by the way. I just think women look so much better in menswear than um, men!
So I asked some of my favorite masculine women to join an online panel discussion in our private group to share their journey to menswear. I also asked them to share some of their best fashion advice below:

1.Tamira “Augie” Augustine

Augie is 42, a Houston, Texas resident and the national president of Epsilon Xi Gamma, Inc., the nation’s first collegiate Greek Order for lesbians and allies regardless of gender expression.

When did you first realize how much you loved menswear?

I always hated all things girl.  But growing up Southern and Christian there wasn’t a choice.
When I came out, I was gently termed “stem” not knowing what that was. (Basically a feminine stud). My girlfriend at the time said, “You don’t really seem comfortable like this (I almost constantly wore jeans, shirts, and boots) so she took me on a shopping spree.
I will never forget the first time I turned around and saw the button-down shirt and slacks on me. I literally exhaled and for the first time I smiled while looking at myself in a mirror.

What advice you would give to other masculine women struggling to find their style?

First, stop allowing femmes to down your sports bras. Stop allowing them to determine your look in comparison to theirs. We aren’t the same. Just buy [your sports bra] a size smaller than your attire for lift and support.

Don’t be afraid of a tailor! Yes, buy the suit, and then get a tailor! They can make tweaks to any suit for less than 75 bucks.

By the way, your jacket shouldn’t cover your wrists, your sleeves should not meet near your elbow, and your slacks can be looser, without the crotch falling to near your knees.
You can learn more about Epsilon Xi Gamma Inc by visiting www.excellence-is.org.

2. Kimberly “Casey” Collins

Kimberly Collins is a 55-year-old photographer living in Baltimore.

When did you first realize how much you loved menswear?

I’ve always loved menswear.  Even as a child I gravitated toward boys’ clothing. I hated dresses — even when I confirmed, I always had some masculine element.
Even though I hated dresses, I gave in to societal norms. But I always felt like I was wearing a costume!  
When I hit my 50s, I made the decision to be authentic with my expression of who I am.  It’s been empowering! And today there is not a single dress in my closet!

Any advice for black masculine lesbians who may have trouble finding their own style?

Do not be afraid of adding both “feminine” and “masculine” elements to your look.  

For example, I consider myself a Masculine of Center woman who loves my wingtips, short natural hair, tailored suits, but I also incorporate jewelry, light makeup, patterns, and colors.  
I try to balance my look to be an expression of who I am and how I’m feeling that day.  For me, it’s not about suppressing ANY part of who I am.
You can follow Kimberly on IG at cre8tivekimestry. She is doing a photography series called “My Sister, Myself” and any sistas who would like to participate would be most welcome to slide into her DMs on IG or send her an email at Casey@Cre8tiveKimestry.com.

3 M. Shelly Conner

M Shelly Conner is a writer and assistant professor in the Department of Film, Theatre and Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas (where she recently relocated from Chicago).
Below is an excerpt from an article Dr. Conner wrote on AfterEllen about the freedom she felt in wearing masculine attire:
“I always equate dresses with two things: unsolicited commentary on my size and impracticality …. Dresses did not make me feel feminine; they made me feel vulnerable. … Of course, I find them aesthetically pleasing–I just don’t enjoy how I feel wearing them. The … first time I wore a bowtie, it did not imbue me with masculinity. I did not become butch, stud, or any other masculine-male identity. It did, however, provide a buffer for me to experience some of the liberties attributed to the masculine. My mannerisms and behaviors were no longer regulated by my style of dress.

I felt free to be me–at times feminine, masculine, androgynous or combinations of them such that classifying bowties, neckties, suits, and wingtips as menswear becomes extremely oppressive. The clothing allows me to embrace myself fully.”

Any advice for black masculine lesbians who may have trouble finding their own style?

My best tip is to learn how to tie a bowtie and add variety to the knots in your neckwear. Pre-tied bowties look juvenile and unrefined.
Watch my step-by-step tutorial below on how to properly tie a bow tie.
Knots in neckties like the Eldredge knot, double Windsor and the classy Merovingian knot use more of the tie, which prevents excess material from hanging below the waist.
I also highly recommend ensuring that clothing and shoes fit correctly. Menswear shoes are stylish but aren’t made for fit below a certain width and length. Wearing them then gives a clunky appearance that my brother refers to as “duck feet.” There are several companies that now produce oxfords and wingtips and other menswear-inspired (genderless) styles for a variety of sizes.
Check our the DapperVista.com website and social media sites, which are devoted to exploring the dapper queer aesthetic in fashion, culture and a self-sustainable lifestyle.

4. DL Jolly

D.L.  is a 40-year-old resident of Nashville Tennessee.

When did you first realize how much you loved menswear?

Even as a child my parents dressed me as if I was going to work daily. So, though they will never admit it, they started my style of dress. From hats, slacks to suspenders I have always had this style. But as an adult, I stepped my style up with ascots and cuff links and–my deepest passion of all–timepieces.
Though I don’t care for bow ties or ties period (too stereotypical) I will wear plastic or wooden bow ties to accent my out-of-the-box swag. No three-piece suits are found in my wardrobe simply because I don’t care to be labeled as trying to look like a man. My style is simply my style.

Any advice for black masculine lesbians who may have trouble finding their own style?

My advice to others is ‘do you’ because I will forever do me, and don’t go broke trying to rock labels. The right coordination can make almost anything look great.

5. Jay Morrow

Jay Morrow is a current resident of Baltimore, however, is originally from Hillsborough, N.C.

When did you first realize how much you loved menswear?

I have always dressed this way it seems for years. Even in the sixth-grade I was wearing ties to school.

Growing up, I use to cut my grandfather’s hair and style my him. Every Saturday I would get out the outfit I wanted him to wear– from the shoes, blazer, slacks, tie and even hat.  

So I have had a love of menswear for years.  I was also told as a person from the South to “dress how you want to be addressed” and also dress appropriately for your field of work.  
I work in higher education so I want to be an example to my students of one way to dress.  One of my personal brand signatures are bow ties. I use to be part of a promotional group that  threw parties in Washington, D.C. in the early 2000s. And I was known to wear bow ties and be dressed up for Happy Hours and evening parties.

Any advice for black masculine lesbians who may have trouble finding their style?

Get properly fitted for your blazer, dress shirts and pants. Know your size and try and buy suit separates as opposed to off-the-rack 44R suits.

Also, have confidence in what you are wearing! What is trending might not be the best fit for you but something that is properly fitted for you, will go a lot further. You can find Jay on the following social sites: IG @jamorr67 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamorr/

Want to Join the Discussion?

To participate in the live discussion taking place in the Black Lesbian Love Lab Private Community on Sunday, March 24 at 7 p.m. EST or watch the replay, subscribe to our membership at community.blacklesbianlovelab.com.

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Article written by:

Zamara Perri

Zamara Perri is the founder and editor of the Black Lesbian Love Lab blog. She loves black love and loves mangoes, cats, reading, cooking and writing about some of the challenges and joys of black lesbian relationships.

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    I loved the articles

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