Dear Lady A:
My boyfriend is a just about a perfect 10 in every way but one. When we go out, we look so oddly paired. I’m into fashion and I just can’t accept a hair out of place whereas he tends to go for a more natural look. If that is a look. I mean, seriously, no. But this goes beyond just clothes, it’s grooming too. He’s a little too shaggy, a little too drab. And like, I know this sounds stupid, but he doesn’t dress gay enough. He could look so much better if he was actually a little less butch. Crazy, right? Is there an easy and polite way to hint that maybe he should up his game?
—Fruity Fashion Is My Passion
Dear Passion Fruit:
If by up his game you mean, look more gay, I’m not sure there is a polite way to say that. As you may have observed in previous columns, I tend to stand in opposition of the rigid guidelines our rainbow community sometimes puts on us. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with being fierce, out loud and fabulous. I like to consider myself a member of the flamboyantly queer club, as a matter of fact. But there’s also nothing wrong with being, well… not those things.
Self-expression, be it hairstyle, clothes, ink, the jokes we tell, or even the people we vote for, should never be based solely on the fact that a random confluence of nature happened to make us born this way.
Don’t get me wrong. I love that there are certain style choices we can make—a tattoo, a lady quiff, a perfectly-tailored bright yellow men’s Hermes slim trouser with rolled up cuffs, etc.—that serve as an instant silent signal recognizable to those in the know that we may, in fact, be family. But those choices should be matters of personal taste and convenience, never mandatory.
To put it bluntly, kittenfruit, it’s not cool to tell someone to dress more gay (or for that matter, less gay).
No matter what kind of butch sexuality vibe he’s giving off to strangers, you know which way his compass points. North, toward the cock. And that should be good enough for you.
Now, as far as his shaggy drabness, there may be something you can do about that—if you both have the time, money, patience and energy it takes to take your man shopping. (I know, it sounds dreamy to me, too!) There are a few rules to helping your guy to look his best:
Ask him if he’s up for a fun fashion change. Often, people want to dress better but they don’t know where to start. If he’s not into it, let the issue go and just love the style-handicapped schlub the way he is. This battle is just not worth fighting when he’s a perfect 10 in every other way. But do introduce him to your hair guy. There’s simply no excuse for an imperfect coif if it’s not premeditated sexy beach hair.
Never shame him for his current look. Teasing him will get you nowhere fast, and it’s totally douche-y.
Help him look even more like himself. If he wants a makeover (does anyone not?) stick to that simple goal. Support him in realizing his own vision of who he is. Ask him what kind of image he hopes to put out there, and guide him in manifesting that image. If he fancies himself a power yuppy or an artsy boho, try to help him get there. Not necessarily to your personal style or the one you wish he had.
Don’t try to change him completely, and be grateful for minor victories. Subtle changes are generally the best you can hope for. If something clicks in his mind, and he suddenly becomes a fierce, out loud, fabulous fashionisto prodigy, that’s wonderful! But don’t get your hopes up. Your life is not a teenage romcom. He’s not the nerdy girl who takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair, and suddenly becomes slutty Cinderella to the amazement of the football player who’s king of the prom.
In real life, when you take off someone’s glasses, they trip and fall over the dog. It’s better to help them pick out slightly more fashionable glasses and call it a day. If you know what I mean.
Good luck, stylish kitten. Send pics (and thank you gifts) if a makeover actually happens!
Lady A—dominant mistress—has been writing sex and relationship advice as resident sexpert for Chicago Phoenix. If you have a question you’d like to ask, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @dearladya.