Wedding Announcement: Tiffany Renee Mott-Winnike and James Lee Winnike
January 21, 2015
Two women in locker room, femme problems
Femme Problems 138: Femme at the Gym
January 23, 2015

Glitter Bombs and Bowties: A Queer Style Guide With Ace Portis

Queer Fashion with Ace, Tagg Magazine

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is at its center a political act. I feel as though someone’s personal style can at times be a silent protest or a very visible statement. More plainly I am working to coin my own personal ideology, which I call “A Boi in Pearls”. It is a nod to a variety of things that coincide to make me. I have long felt that gendering of clothing and fashion has been to our society’s detriment and the statement of “A Boi in Pearls” works to dismantle that. I may be in what people may perceive to be a more masculine aesthetic which is almost always accented with what I feel is a very highly feminine symbol of the pearl earring. I also enjoy teetering the line of feminine and masculine items not typically paired and the use of color to make a very dramatic visualization.

For many queer people, their style is very important to their personal expression. What do you love about the style you have found for yourself?
I love that my style is liberating [and] I have found comfort in wearing whatever brings me joy. I love that the rigidness of what womyn should look like is literally changing each time I walk in the outside world. I believe an often-lost gem of the queer movement is our ability to redefine society’s standards through fashion. Who gets to wear a dress or makeup? Who learns to tie a tie or carry a structured bag?

What inspires your style?
I am inspired by trailblazers of fashion. The dapper dandies who’s spirits are being revived by Afrocentrism, but in the same vein I am inspired by the rules of Southern dress codes. I love strong workmanship and clean lines in a garment. Fit is paramount to me. There is an inner confidence that comes with good fitting clothes and I think that comes from a close analysis of yourself and how you move through the world.

Ace Portis, Queer Fashion

Ace Portis in White Ralph Lauren Oxford Shirt, Black Nine West Boots, Red Pashmina Scarf, Black Vintage Opera Coat, and Pearls

How might you put together an outfit/look for a casual day in the city?
On a casual day in the city you’ll find me in a pair of relax fit straight leg jeans, a button down shirt, casual dressy shoes, and a blazer or jacket, and my ever handy beanie.

What about a more formal event?
Formal events are my absolute favorite. Many people who know me have seen my now infamous wardrobe changes at formal events. It often begins with a more traditionally feminine aesthetic complete with makeup, heels, and sometimes even a dress and then something clicks. There is a moment that yields itself to a blazer, pocket square, bowtie, crisp shirt, dramatic colored pant, coordinating socks, and usually an Oxford.

Many people in the queer community ask where to shop for clothes. Where do you go to find clothes that work for you?
I believe in the variety of shopping, but I also am a firm believer in quality staple pieces. This is where fit really matters as well. I have a deep love for the construction of Ralph Lauren button downs. They last forever and often work for whatever the style choice is of the day. I enjoy searching thrift shops and vintage racks for my bowties. I never wear pre tied because I think each time I tie one it becomes new again. I have found that the Gap’s relax fit pants are great and long lasting, but I will shop just about anywhere. I think the emergence of queer fashion companies and designers is not a coincidence as our bodies and expression evolve demand that fashion adapt to us.

Now that you live on the West Coast, how has your style changed?
Now that I live on the west coast, my style has definitely changed. It is far more relaxed. I sported a bit of a uniform living in Washington, D.C., which consisted of a blazer, button down, and business shoes. California is far more relaxed and I often find myself overdressed or just looking for a reason to dress up. I have also started to embrace hats more as the Bay Area is often mild and or foggy, so it has definitely added a new level to my style. I am wearing less makeup as well, but plan to revisit my palettes this year.

Anything else you would like to add?
The only fashion rules are the ones that you choose to abide by, except wearing white after Labor Day…I’m from the South. Don’t let gender define your dress. I still haven’t figured out the difference between a button up and a button down.