Editor In Butch

Dykonclast: Rock Hudson

In Queer-oes in a Nut-shell! on January 31, 2009 at 6:30 am


What is Nouveau Butch style? There are as many answers to this question as there are women in this subset (a rapidly growing number, we’re pleased to report).  Though we firmly believe in an era of equality, it is this NB’s opinion that a certain look works almost universally.  We’re certainly not saying that there is one panacea, one cure-all-outfit to suit all lesbians; but we do concede that there seem to be an abundance of similarities in taste.  What are our influences?  Where do these ideas come from?  Who is making the clothes? How can we get inspired?  And when are we going to stop asking questions and get right down to it!?  Now. For many lesbians, and especially those who seem to really dig the idea of dyke fashion, these answers are greatly varied–but the inspiration seems to be the same…Gay Men. Gay Men. Gay Men.  

Ladies, let’s face it, they’re dressing the rest of the world–and making them look good.  Straight men’s clothes–designed by gay men.  Gay men’s clothes–designed by gay men.  Straight women’s clothes–mostly designed by gay men.  Let’s get on the wagon.  (To be fair, we do recognize that there are a few ladies out there designing and doing a damn fine job, brava!  But for the most part, I don’t think this really needs to be argued–the gay men are dominating the fashion industry.  And brava to them for doing a great job!)  This has nothing to do with penis-envy or gender-confusion.  Women are allowed to be inspired by men’s fashion–gay or straight.  We’re just highlighting the fact that the uber masculine is uber appealing–as with all things uber–to those interested in fashion politics and making a personal statement through the use of universal identifiers.

This entry isn’t even about who’s making the clothes!  It’s about the style icons who have inspired an evolution into what we now know as Nouveau Butch.  It’s how the clothes were worn, and accessorized, it’s the air around the wearer.  These are the seeds from which our own unique styles have grown.  Rock Hudson indeed qualifies for a fashion dykonclast.  He is, of course, a gay man.  But for a time, he was the epitome of masculinity, the essence of strong male style, and he is, of course, beautiful.  These are all things that seem to attract/inspire lesbians–both in manner and in dress.  For instance…

Dare we say, dashing?

Dare we say, dashing?



Hudson was sort of the American James Bond–not in the crime-fighting, gadget toting, extraordinary kind of way; but in that accidentally dashing, irresistibly charming, disarmingly adorable way that leading ladies could not resist.  Classic style, earnest manner, and an affable disposition (with just a touch of mischief in the eyes)–these are all on page-1 of the NB handbook.


Um, argyle anyone?

Um, argyle anyone?

It’s alleged that the woman Hudson married, Phyllis Gates, was a closeted lesbian and knew all about his male lovers.  Perhaps he borrowed the sweater-vest from her?  If so, then this was taken at a time when they were getting along.  She divorced him after only three years of marriage, sighting “mental cruelty” as the reason–he did not contest the divorce.  

There’s something about the 1950’s.  The iconic, gender-specific imagery left an indelible impact in the mind of America.  And a gender-conscious group such as the gays are often drawn to (and definitely draw from) these images of extreme polarity. As women, we inhabit women’s bodies.  When we adorn these bodies in iconic, male fashions from this definitive era, we are asserting ourselves as rebels, as queers. Even in something simple like a starched button-down, we borrow from the past.  We encroach a little more into this territory with items like vests, ties, & cufflinks.  Gender-bending can sometimes seem threatening, but these are not the accessories of  a dangerous lot–in fact, quite the opposite.  Harkening back to a time of simplicity and formal etiquette, we are able to extend a sort of olive-branch of familiarity by donning the finery of a refined group–even of the charming, comfortable images of men like Rock Hudson.

Either that, or we think that borrowing his style will get us in with women like this:


Let my people GO!

Let my people GO!

Hudson with Yvonne De Carlo: The Canadian actress was most famous for her role as Sephora in the film “The Ten Commandments.” 



Shine on you crazy Diamonds!

Shine on you crazy Diamonds!

Hudson with Elizabeth Taylor. 


Oh what a glorious Day!

Oh what a glorious Day!

Rock & Doris Day starred together in three films for Universal: Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, and Send Me No Flowers.  NB highly recommends Pillow Talk–both the activity and the film with Doris Day. Scratch that, reverse it…

As Always,


  1. […] Her cocktail book is from the 1953 (ehem, Rock Hudson). […]

  2. something told me i was a lesbian when my heart heaved at the site of doris day in calamity jane…shoulda known then for sure!

  3. Lovely article. How exciting to think about these things. BTW, “Pillow Talk” has been one of my faves for decades, kindred spirit;) xo

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