It’s been over a decade since we all said goodbye to “The L Word” and longer still since we were first introduced to the likes of Jenny, Bette, Tina, Alice, Dana, and, of course, Shane. No doubt queer women everywhere all remember the sexy androgyne that graced our TV screens each week—I know I do.
While Shane was guilty of many mistakes (hello, how could you do that to Carmen?!), she has and will always hold a place in my heart. So when I was asked to find ways of dressing like Shane for a week, I had to jump at the chance.
On day one, I had to go and meet my writing group, so I figured it would be a good time to try my first look. (Writing groups are inherently lesbian, just ask Jenny Schecter.)
I opted to go for one of Shane’s more conservative looks (I’m not confident enough to wear a vest with no bra and leather pants). I chose some ripped, flared jeans and a blue, button-down blouse. I like blouses, but I don’t always wear them because I happen to be married to my t-shirts like any good lesbian. I went to my local Goodwill and picked one up that fit alright, along with a red belt like Shane often wears (that I, of course, didn’t notice couldn’t be seen in the pics—whoops). I dug up my jeans from that endless laundry-pile-on-the-chair and was good to go.
The only thing I could notice that was a tad different on the first day was that I had to put just five more minutes of effort into my appearance, because I knew I needed some eyeliner à la Shane. I also accessorized with a small chain necklace, because I noticed Shane often wears either chain necklaces or black chokers. I did get one compliment from one of the writers in my group, so that was also nice. I felt a bit more assertive overall in our gathering and more willing to speak up during critiques. Maybe all I need in my life is to take that extra five minutes for folks to notice me. Or maybe those minutes are for me to remember to notice myself? Hmm…
Day two I went with a v-neck tee (as Shane so often does) topped with a red plaid shirt. In my case, it was a flannel as I realized I’m sorely lacking in regular plaid shirts. I could make a joke about plaid being in every queer girl’s closet, but y’all already know. I paired that with some jeans again and added the requisite eyeliner plus the black choker I grabbed off of Amazon for a few bucks. I felt comfortable and good about myself, maybe because I put just a smidge more effort into my look once again.
No one around me could really tell I was “going” for any kind of look, sadly. Then again, I work from home, so there aren’t a ton of folks to really model my looks for. And seeing as I happen to have a curvier body than Katherine Moennig, I don’t really think anyone knew I was trying to resemble Shane. Plus, I live in Colorado, and literally everyone dresses like this. Whoops! Back to the drawing board.
It was hot out, and I knew I couldn’t pull off the Shane-In-A-Suit look just yet, so I opted for this easy-to-emulate tank top look. I added the black choker and some burgundy pants. Dressing like Shane for real requires what looks like corduroy pants in this one, but I didn’t have any (nor did my local Goodwill have any), so I went for second best. I actually don’t wear tank tops all that often out of the house, as I sometimes feel a bit self-conscious, but I had to think about Shane and what she would do with all her nipple confidence and braless looks—which is basically not give a damn what anyone thinks. I pushed past, and I’m pretty sure I even got a few flirty looks on my afternoon walk. Maybe it does pay off to show a little more skin than usual?
Or maybe dressing like Shane is also helping me notice other people noticing me? I do tend to spend too much time staring at my phone or going over To-Do lists in my head. I never thought that dressing a bit differently might impact not only how people see me, but how I see them.
Shane often wears blazers over tees, and in a few episodes, she also wears them over a red t-shirt. As luck would have it, I have both in my closet, so I threw those on together along with—what’s that, you say?—another pair of jeans for day four of dressing like Shane. I also added the must-wear black choker again. Let me tell you: I was feeling this look. I always feel way more confident in a blazer, even if my only blazer is pretty old at this point. Something about them always makes any outfit look 20 percent sharper.
I decided to go out and about in that outfit for the day, and I felt like I had some extra pep in my step. Often I feel a bit invisible when I’m running errands (probably because I’m looking fairly disheveled #momlife), but this day was not like that at all.
“Going somewhere special today?” my son’s preschool teacher asked. I shrugged and said I was just trying something a little different. It did make me wonder if I’m looking more ragged than I thought at school drop-offs, though.
It also doesn’t hurt that I love wearing anything red or burgundy (and that I’ve often been told that it’s “my color”), so that probably helped my self-esteem a bit. I’m also digging how these chokers elongate my neck (which has always been one of my favorite physical features), so I’m happy to have these in rotation now. Kudos to your style, Shane!
There’s no way you can spend a week dressing like Shane without at least once donning a suit and tie. Shane wears blazers frequently, but whenever there’s a fancy evening occasion, you can almost always spot her in a suit. Fortunately for me, I had one hanging in my closet that had been painfully ignored for far too long. This look definitely got me a lot more attention than usual. Questions of where I was going so dressed up were the norm for the most part from everyone from my family to my son’s preschool teachers. I even got compliments from friends.
“You look cute usually, but damn! You just look super cute in a suit,” my friend Irina told me. It was nice to hear. She’s never seen “The L Word” (for shame, I know. She was more of a “Queer As Folk” fan), but she could appreciate this cleaned up look.
I have to say that I completely understand when people talk about power suits. You do really feel more powerful and more in control. Maybe that’s all symptomatic of the patriarchy, but since we’re not going to be able to smash it all entirely just yet, I’ll take power from wherever I can. And throughout the day, I could totally feel things that would typically bother me bounce right off my shoulder pads.
All in all, I realized that dressing like Shane isn’t all that hard when you don’t dress terribly dissimilar to begin with, other than perhaps for a few of her more “out there” looks (and her semi-frequent wallet chains which, honestly, is just not something anyone can pull off this close to 2020). I also realized that I’ve been in a serious t-shirt and jeans rut for way too freaking long, which doesn’t really give me the confidence I want. And if I want confidence, nay, nipple confidence à la Shane McCutcheon, I really need to start putting a bit more effort into my day-to-day looks.
Life’s too short to go around feeling invisible all the time. This experiment has really brought something out in me that I needed. Thanks for the inspo, Shane!