Sophie Eichelberger ‘20. Photo by Caroline Roy ‘20

The Queer Fashion Spotlight features queer and questioning students’ views and expressions of fashion. ‘Queer’ here is trans-inclusive. If you are a queer or questioning student and would like to be featured, please contact Ross Hickman at rohickman@davidson.edu or Lyra Seaborn at lyseaborn@davidson.edu.

How would you describe your style of fashion? Or, in our terms, do you have a ‘fashion identity’ based on what you wear?

My mom described it recently as retro with a touch of modern. I think that’s pretty accurate. I try to get most of my clothes second hand. 

How has your style evolved and shaped your identity during your time at Davidson?

I came into Davidson not very stylish. I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, where there’s a lot of people wearing Vineyard Vines and not a lot of people who experiment with style. At first Davidson wasn’t that different. For me, it was going abroad and being surrounded by Japanese fashion for the first time that really started to influence my style. I spent a lot of time in Harajuku, which is the main street in Tokyo where people wear a lot of experimental looks. Coming out was also a big factor that changed the way I dress. Part of being more “out” on campus was feeling like I had more freedom to do things like dying my hair bright colors. 

Have you had to confront stereotypes about the ways queer women dress?

Definitely. The other day I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and I was walking out of my apartment, and before I’d even seen anyone I was thinking “This outfit is super gay.” I had to stop and realize that no, it’s me who’s gay, not the outfit. Wearing something more masculine can make you feel a lot more visible as a queer person on campus.

How do masculinity and femininity play into your style? 

As a kid, pre-puberty, I was exclusively a tomboy and got all of my clothes from the men’s section at Kohls. I didn’t want to associate myself with anything feminine or pink, which I realize now is problematic. As my body changed, I found myself wearing a lot more feminine pieces. I definitely think it’s easier for women to adapt elements of masculine style than for a man to, say, wear a skirt.

How do you feel about people’s comments on what you’re wearing?

It makes me feel so validated when people make positive comments about my clothes because putting together outfits is a huge source of stress relief for me. Because of my social anxiety, it took me a long time to be able to wear something that stood out. When I was a child, if the shirt I was wearing was a bright color, I would feel embarrassed and wear a jacket over it the whole day. There’s definitely a fear of being looked at. Today, I’m wearing snakeskin boots and fishnets, which makes people look directly at my legs, and as a plus sized woman, people are going to look at you differently anyway. I’ve learned that one positive comment can cancel out any negative attention. I used to think that my style made me stand out a lot at Davidson, but I was looking in the wrong places and now I realize that there are plenty of fashion icons here.  

To see more of Sophie’s looks, check out her fashion Instagram account @my_flare_lady.