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Androgynous Lingerie: Underthings for Gender Feelings

A glimpse into my lingerie wardrobe, featuring lots of color, texture, and queer gender feelings

Figuring out gender is not always an easy, fast, or singular process. For some of us, understanding our relationship to gender takes years, shifts through different labels, or is defined by fluidity rather than a fixed identity. Personally, genderqueer feels like the most correct description of how I experience my gender identity. My gender lives in big, amorphous shapes that encompass but are not limited to “woman.”

Though gender identity and gender expression are not the same, playing around with clothing, mannerisms, and gestures that carry gendered connotations can be an affirming way of publicly showing gender identity. For me, this means that the clothing I wear and the way I carry myself might shift from day to day.

Now, while living in a society that defines gender in binary male/female qualities, both overtly and subtly, is decidedly not fun to say the least, the very fun part about the way I experience my gender is having a big wardrobe. Clothing is an exciting place of experimentation for me, and playing around with gendered expectations means that I have infinite styles to explore.

Underclothing affects the shape of my body, the way my clothes fit, and the way I carry myself. Therefore, it’s often one of the first things I consider when I’m deciding how I want to portray myself to the world on any given day. I’d like to share with you three garments that I reach for most frequently.

Everyday Femme Underwire Bra

Panache Envy Full Cup Bra and Cacique High-Waist Panties

Underwire bras still feel like a safe option to me, after more than two-thirds of my life wearing them. I have a large chest so finding bras that feel comfortable to wear all day has taken experimentation. The Panache Envy Full Cup Bra is easily the style I reach for the most. I have it in multiple colors and add a new one each year.

In the Envy, I feel decidedly femme, but in a way that doesn’t require too much ongoing effort. The snug band and full cup stay in place comfortably, and the herringbone texture sets it apart from other lace-cup bras. My breasts are lifted, round, and full in this bra, which makes it feel good on days when I’m happy to emphasize the curves of my body.

Colorful Dandy Binder

gc2b Rainbow Half Binder and Target Briefs

On days when I want to de-emphasize my breasts and create a flatter silhouette, I reach for my gc2b Rainbow Half Binder. I’d had a basic Grey Tank Binder from gc2b before, and it was fine. It got the job done. But as someone who loves the color, print, and texture available in lingerie, I never got excited about that plain grey.

Figuring out that binders could be exuberant and fun blew my mind. I couldn’t hit the purchase button quickly enough when gc2b released this rainbow version. I love that it includes the eight colors of the original Pride flag, because that pink and purple are so gorgeous.

Binders are difficult garments for large chests. This doesn’t fit me perfectly, but it does feel good on, both physically and emotionally. Wearing this under a sharp button-front shirt and blazer makes me into the happiest dandy out there.

Amorphous Gender Blob Soft Bra

TomboyX Essentials Soft Bra and Aerie Underwear

Femme and dandy looks both bring me joy, but they also both feel a little like performances. A form fitting dress or a sharp blazer allow me to play versions of myself that are created through deliberate choices of certain clothes, silhouettes, and ways of moving. Realizing this, I’ve become more interested in exploring clothes that let my body just exist, rather than perform.

I call this feeling the “amorphous gender blob,” borrowing from a way my partner has described their own gender experience. As a fat person, I like the round quality inherent in “blobness.” Since discovering elastic-banded soft bras that fit me, I’ve been reaching for them more and more on days when I just want my body to be itself.

The Tomboyx Essentials Soft Bra is my go-to now. It helps mitigate any chafing or sweating that come with large breasts and just holds them gently and without fuss. It’s the happy medium between being very aware of the movement of a bare chest and being very aware of the restriction of a firm bra band or binder. I get to just happily be, floating along my blobby way.

Final Thoughts

Lingerie is not only versatile, it can be transformative. I find that I discover more about myself the more I experiment with different styles and try things that surprise me. I'm excited to see the lingerie world as a whole continue to catch up with the beautiful variety of human gender so we can all find fulfilling ways of being in our bodies.

Shannon Flaherty