Friday, December 27, 2013

Pretty in Pink: JQ Clothing and the Diversity of Beauty

Dress and bangle from JQ Clothing; Tights and earrings: Reitmans; Belt: boutique; Ring: Effy; Boots: Ecco; Faux fur coat, purse, and brooch: vintage
This day was the grand reopening of JQ Clothing, formerly known as The Jean Queen. They'd already painted their wall a hot pink, and now they were having a five hour party to celebrate. 


So I bedecked myself in a dress and bracelet that I had bought there in the past, and headed down, in my crippled sort of a way...

... wearing my prized faux fur and wintery brooch, both of which I bought when I was getting my MA in Toronto, a stupidly cold city in the winter.

If JQ Clothing has a "philosophy," one part of it is definitely to encourage and embrace flamboyance and the sheer fun and playfulness of dressing up.

It's a particular favourite amongst drag queens, whether they be born male...

... or female.

So I knew I wouldn't be overdressed for these Saturday afternoon festivities. 

If anything, compared to those around me, I was a little mousy. You know, like a wallflower...

...with my natural hair...

... incredibly understated, bland, mainstream outfit (snicker) ...

... and minimal makeup.

I certainly think I couldn't begin to compete with the flash of this woman. To me, she was unquestionably the star of the show, the belle of the ball, the cherry on top of the cake. 

Shall I continue?

She wanted me to tell you all that she's in her eighties and has great grandchildren. She was very proud of this fact. She knows that she's a remarkable woman.

The nature of her relationship with this man remained a fun mystery to me and I liked that. I also really liked his style, with his jaunty hat and easy swing.

I think a man of his age is certainly old enough to be comfortable dancing amongst garter belts and... what is that thing on the bottom left?

There was a lot of dancing.

When I was there, the dancing was to the blues. For the first time in years, I heard one of the funniest blues songs I know: "I Got My Mojo Working But It Just Won't Work On You." It's pretty self-explanatory, right?

JQ Clothing is also a favourite amongst those who like retro styles which sure do twirl nicely when the wearer is dancing.

I actually have this same red belt. I wore it with a fabulous retro red polka dot dress that I also got here. You can see it in all its glory here

I did feel sad to have to sit in the corner. Being disabled sucks. It just does.

But I was very touched to be immediately offered a chair when I walked in the door. That's the thing about my neighbourhood: I'm known. On more than one occasion, I've gone into JQ Clothing and just asked to sit down for a bit to rest. I know I'm welcome.

I won't lie. It makes me sad to be less able bodied than a woman twice my age. I'm happy for her that she can dance but I'm really sad that I can't.

I felt like Baby sitting in the corner of the dance hall in Dirty Dancing. 

I loved that movie as a teen and it inspired me to even further pursue my love of dancing. I practiced on my own pretty much every day for many years. I could do back bends without even using my hands. I could do the splits and kiss my knee at the same time. I could hold another woman on my thighs while I bent down in what weight lifters call a squat.

I was frequently mistaken for a professional dancer.

Patrick Swayze said, "Nobody puts baby in a corner," and, when I was anywhere near a dance floor, no-one put me in a corner either. Instead, they pulled me front and centre.

But everything has changed with my disability. My abusers put me in corner, thirty years after their abuse.

Now I need to be in a corner. It's safer there and less painful because nobody will accidentally hurt me by jostling me or bumping into me. If I'm in a corner, I can stay out just a little bit longer.

But I'm not happy about it. Do not get me wrong.

But at least I wasn't invisible in that corner. People knew me, knew why I sat where I sat, and I felt included in the festivities. 

They saw me flashing my hot tights at Beau and they laughed. So did I.

This woman was pivotal in helping me learn to love my body as it is now, not as it once was. She used to work at JQ Clothing and taught me how to dress my new curves, not to minimize or hide them, but to play them up and show them off.

She helped me learn that a curvy girl's waist is her best asset, and her breasts are things of great beauty. She inspired my outfit in Girl Convict in an All Girl Prison (which is a pretty funny post, if I do say so myself).

JQ Clothing has always encouraged women to love their bodies as they are, not as we're told they should be. They eschew following "rules" about how to dress different body types.

And they make sure to carry clothes for, as they call them, "curvy chicks," though I'd call this lovely lady "statuesque" as well.


Diversity in beauty is key and it is evident from the photos that this was a diverse crowd.

When this cute brother and sister seem to be well-placed in the kids' section, you know there is a diversity of ages present, including lots of older people.

They were all into 80s retro and digging it. I hadn't seen a hair cut like this lad's in years and years and I got a real kick out of it...

... just as I was getting a kick out of my retro/vintage faux fur. 

It's all about fun in fashion, not conformism or blending in.

And, on that note, I shall bit you good night.

(Spy Girl wanted us all to share shiny outfits this week on 52 Pick-Me-Up so I shared the black sequined dress of the belle of the ball. And I always link up with Not Dead Yet's Visible Mondays when I can.)


  1. Charlotte, a very sweet (and bittersweet) post. It looked like a very fun time.
    Inclusiveness is a wonderful thing.
    And what WAS that thing "in the lower left corner"? Spanx + falsies?

    BTW, you have shiny jewels on. That counts!

    1. Ah, honey, I ALWAYS have shiny jewels on... so I guess I always count, right?

      I think that thing is a fake butt for drag queens to wear, but I'm still really not sure.

  2. I think that thing in the lower left corner is a pair of undershorts with butt padding, for that extra booty look.

  3. I love love love your coverage of the reopening. I (as an unbelievable surprise) love your perspective and your articulate, humorous, reality based observations!!!! Thank you, for your sparkles, sense of community and inclusiveness.

  4. I was happily surprised to find coverage of the reopening of JQ.... then thrilled to find it by such an amazingly articulate, humorous, sparkly woman! Your ability to celebrate diversity and inclusion rival much of what I have experienced and I honor you for this. BTW....I would dedicatedly consider"chair dancing" with those amazing tights at least the supporting dancers on Dirty Dancing. You go girl!!!!!

  5. Hi there and it's lovely to meet you! you are fabulous and shop in the best possible places ever! why don't I have a shop like this near me, and with a live musician! you look divine in all of your fancy fine wear! (I realised by the way I am an utter idiot, really I am, I wrote the 'Big C' which referred to Christmas and did not realise how ambiguous it was, I apologise if I caused any confusion) x x x

    1. I'm thrilled to bits that I was wrong about the Big C. Of course, if you read my previous post, you'll see that Christmas is almost as bad for me.

      Just got a Trifari brooch at Value Village. Watch for it in a future post.

  6. Lovely post, Charlotte - I can feel the warmth and diversity and fun of the party, through your words and pics. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday!

  7. Just because you're sitting in the corner doesn't mean you're invisible. I prefer to think of it as "holding court". Make the party come to you ;-)
    Love the dress, and I have a red bracelet that is almost an exact match to yours.
    Make 2014 your year!


  8. You look pretty, and pristine and porcelain ... drag queens can give a girl so much confidence. Theirs must rub off a bit! Lovely post, Charlotte. I'll be glad when the holidays are over ... although New Year's celebrations can be bracing and optimistic. I'm choosing to expect a much better year than last ... I'll include a good year upcoming for your in my expectations! Have a brilliant 2014 !