Wearing a signature newsboy cap atop a freshly trimmed undercut, Sydney Olney ’17 sports a gray tweed jacket and faded brown, disheveled boots.
But Olney didn’t always dress this way.
“Spring Term of Lower Year, when I realized that I wasn’t cisgender, [my clothing] kind of became my way of expressing that,” said Olney.
“I remember my freshman year of high school I would always dress up in really girly clothing just because I thought that was what was socially acceptable,” Olney said. “I thought that was what would make me fit in the most. And I still really cared about fashion, but it wasn’t really my own. And then I came here [Lower year], and I was still kind of in that. But after coming out, I progressively got more masculine in my fashion.”
Olney is not fully out in regards to gender. Yet Olney believes that self acceptance is the most important part of the coming out process.
“I felt pressured, because there are so many good looking people around here,” Olney said. “I was like, ‘I need to look exactly like all of you so that I can fit that Andover stereotype,’ but then I went to GSA [Gender Sexuality Alliance] and I [thought], ‘You guys look really good, and you’re also not conforming,’ so that kind of changed my point of view.”
While Olney does not have a strict personal style, androgynous models, like Rain Dove and Ruby Rose, inspire day-to-day clothing choices. A shirt and tie combination with a classic black bowler has become a staple look. On other days, Olney might embrace more feminine pieces, wearing an Emma Watson-inspired simple black and white striped dress.
“I look at androgynous style a lot. I [like to] shop in the men’s extra-small section [at] H&M, partially because it is cheaper and also because I just like it more,” said Olney. “You can get an extra-small shirt in H&M Men’s section for $7 on a sale, but then the same shirt with a more tailored fit would be $20 on sale [in the Women’s section].”
Olney advises others to use their style as a means to express themselves.
“I just want to tell people it’s okay to be a girl and wear ties or be a guy and wear skirts,” Olney said. “You also don’t need to identify in the gender binary. You can identify anywhere in between and wear whatever you’re most comfortable with, and it will show that you are comfortable and happy. That will make you fashionable. It’s confidence and happiness that truly make someone look good.”