Style & Identity

from connecticut to new york city.
lytton, photographed by me

      When you're young, or generally a defiant person, the way you attach your identity to what you choose to wear shows how confident and comfortable you are in wearing what you want. This is because you act on feeling-- and not what others might see as professional or not. You know you're the main character, and you treat life that way. Whether your gender identity helps you express the way you like to see yourself, an interest in arts, etc, all of that applies. 

           Right before 2021 struck all of us, I was working on a art project called "OUT&ABT." It focuses on fashion and identity within the LGBTQ+ community, featuring people whom I know, from Connecticut to NYC. In the beginning, I didn't think it would be made possible-- but I went out, and photographed and interviewed these people to get to know why they choose to wear what they wear, their inspirations, and how they attach that to their identity. In the bio of this piece, I mention that a lot of us in the LGBTQ+ community have a revolution going on inside of us--especially when it comes to going against "laws" of society that have been set in place for the past few hundred years. This is an ode to people who defy that. Some of the questions that were asked: 

How do you define your style along with your identity? 

Are you "presentable," or do you wear what you want?

What pieces do you usually pick out in a rush? 

Getting to know how carefully people pick out their clothes, and what they might be thinking about as they pick out what to wear before rushing to the train or car makes me think of so many other possibilities, and how everyone-- even outside the community-- may treat their ability to wear what they choose and not what's expected. I interviewed 4 people, and all of their answers were incredibly diverse-- some lengthy, some short and sweet. All of the questions listed were answered in one or more sentences or paragraphs. In one answer, Lytton (model in the attached photo) wrote these words back to me:

L: “I never really knew how to define my style. I feel it hits so many categories which makes it hard to say it is one thing. I guess, fun and eclectic?
I Identify as a gay black powerhouse. I never gave a fuck about pleasing people’s image or expectations of what I look like. I’ve always been the type to stray away from traditional clothing and roles. I’ll always wear what I want, clothing to me is an extension of myself-- Therefore, I will never change the way I dress to be “presentable” by normal standards. The way I dress is me. And that’s always presentable.
I love a good monochrome look, if you see me in monochrome, just know I was rushing out of the house." 

S: “I’m care-free but simple. I always wear what
I want. In a rush, I usually pick out a top I like
that slightly matches my pants.”

C: "My personal expression in my style walks hand in hand with my gender fluidity. I dress according to how I feel inside, what music or art is influencing me, and draw inspiration from avant-garde designers (Collina Strada, Charlotte Knowles London, Eckhaus Latta) my environment, and my friends. It is ever-fluctuating, considered, distinctive, androgynous, and playful. Almost all of my clothes are secondhand; I love thrift shopping as it is sustainable, budget-friendly, and leaves room for the creativity I desire when choosing an outfit."

J: "I've sort of always struggled with my identity and it showed through my style. but now rather than stressing out and deciding on one set style I embrace all of the different ones I like, so I define my style as 'who am I today.' I ALWAYS wear what I want. I may adjust it a bit but it will always be a reflection of me. Mostly because if I don't then I'm not comfortable because it's my go-to outlet for expression! I usually either pick out something I've worn before and is comfy or something I've been putting together in my head for a while. doesn't always work out but it gets the job done."

The point of this project was self-motivated. As a trans-non-binary person, I wanted to understand myself through listening to others and what they had to say about themselves. It was created not only for everyday LGBTQ+ people to be seen, but it was all done at the height of the pandemic, in a time where it was an emotionally taxing process for me. I managed to capture each and every one of their stylistic choices that go hand in hand with their identity, as well as their voices. With a reborn interest in clothes and identity, I pulled myself out of a personal crisis and got to work. Around this time, I was still learning what to even do with a camera-- I hadn't figured out all of the kinks, and it had been less than a month into learning how to edit and take photographs. I definitely wouldn't have done it without the help of these people, and it has been my biggest collaboration yet. If it's one thing, it helped me push myself into taking bits and pieces of how they choose to approach style and make it into something new for myself. I created a little world of my own where I can constantly change my look and day-to-day style without a care in the world. Whether it's boho chic, alternative, early 2000s inspired, or baggy jeans and chunky boots, the skies the limit for me. I wanted to present to the world how most of the younger generation approaches life. and how that has affected them in positive ways-- some of them seem like they take it seriously, and that's okay. What people think of you isn't any of your business-- so wear what you want!

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