Cover image for 'Don we now our gay apparel' : gay men's dress in the twentieth century
'Don we now our gay apparel' : gay men's dress in the twentieth century
Cole, Shaun.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Berg, [2000]

Physical Description:
xi, 212 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1620 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ76 .C55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Gay style actually sets trends. Its what straight people take fashion from. Tony Woodcock From the New Edwardians and muscle boys to Radical Drag and Genderfuck, gay mens dress has had a profound impact on fashion. However, it is easy to forget that, with few exceptions, gay men earlier in the century took great pains to conceal their sexual identity. Men such as Quentin Crisp, while highly influential, were far from the norm. Most gay men resorted to a number of subtle dress codes to identify themselves to other gay men -- from Oscar Wildes famous green carnation, which was still being worn in the 1930s, through to suede shoes. Beginning with a look at the subcultural world of gay men in the early part of this century -- particularly in New York and London -- this fascinating book analyzes the trends in dress adopted by gay men as well as the challenge gay style has made to mainstream mens fashion. The importance of dress choice to the formation of sexual identity is highlighted, as is gay influence on punk and the fashion industry as a whole. The rise of new dress choices in the wake of gay liberation is analyzed with particular emphasis on the masculinization of gay dress. The importance of the body to gay culture is addressed, from the physique magazines of the 1950s, through to tattooing and body piercing, and their origins in the SM scene. Anyone interested in gay culture or the history of dress will find this book to be essential reading.

Author Notes

Shaun Cole is Curator of Design, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Twentieth-century gay men's dress, an often overlooked and rarely researched area of fashion, is the focus of this fascinating book. Cole analyzes the emergence of homosexual subcultures through the lens of clothing and style, primarily in London, New York, and San Francisco, with an emphasis on the trendsetting nature of gay men's fashion. Using interviews and scholarly research, Cole reveals typically subtle, and sometimes blatant, "signifiers" (clues) of sexual orientation found in homosexual dress. In the early 1900s, color played a critical role in this form of communication among gay men. Various styles and subgroup trends, such as leathermen, clones, punk, and "club kids," evolved over time. A shift toward the overt celebration of the male physique in modern media and culture eventually influenced overall male fashion. Cole's research also explores gender identity, the constant struggle between perceived masculinity and femininity in gay dress, and rebellion versus conformity as homosexuals seek wider acceptance. He deftly documents nuances associated with gay male dress and their impact on the fashion world, providing the reader with a deeper appreciation of the homosexual aesthete. Extensive footnotes and bibliography. All collections. B. B. Chico Regis University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. 1
Notesp. 9
1 Homosexuality, Class and Dressp. 15
Notesp. 24
2 Fairies and Queens: the Role of Effeminate Steraotypesp. 31
Notesp. 39
3 You're Bom Naked and the Rest is Drag!p. 45
Notesp. 54
4 Invisible Manp. 59
Notesp. 66
5 Tight Trousers: Italian Styling in the 1960sp. 71
Notesp. 78
6 Counter Culture and Liberation: Gay Men, Beats and Hippiesp. 83
Notesp. 90
7 'macho Man': Clones and the Development of a Masculine Sterotypep. 93
Notesp. 101
8 Hell for Leather: Bikers, S&m and Fetishisationp. 107
Notesp. 115
9 Body Talkp. 119
Notesp. 126
10 Down to Basics: Swinwear and Underwearp. 131
Notesp. 137
11 Trash, Glamour, Punkp. 141
Notesp. 151
12 Express Yourself: Clubbing at the Blitz, the Batcave, and beyondp. 157
Notesp. 166
13 Hard Boys: Masculine Appropriations in the 1980sp. 169
Notesp. 179
14 Are You Fag? 'cos You Look like a Fag!p. 183
Notesp. 189
Bibliographyp. 193
Indexp. 205