Make Fashion Fierce Again: An interview with Jake Thompson
Jake Thompson is one of the most magical, wonderful people you will ever meet. I got my chance years ago, when we came together with a mutual appreciation for the world of thrift and encouraging the practice of outrageous dressing. Since then, Jake’s hard work and enthusiasm has brought him to the west coast, where he has done fabulous things, including work for World of Wonder, the production company of, among other gems, RuPaul’s Drag Race; starring in, directing, writing and editing his web series, Fashion Week vs. Fashion Life, and overall being a source of inspiration for many with his loving, ridiculous take on how to express yourself through dress.
So in honor of this fabulous human’s 31st birthday, we present to you a snippet of the interview Jake did for our first issue of Yoko in Mom Jeans. Be sure to check out the issue for the full interview here!
YOKO IN MOM JEANS: What is your relationship with fashion as a way of self expression?
JAKE THOMPSON: It’s the ultimate shade to live your life fully authentic. So whether I’m trying to (donning denim bell bottoms with “Fuck Trump” splattered in red paint down the thighs) or simply expressing myself through fashion (usually femme leaning), it becomes political/social construct because I’m a reminder of mock identity or an outlier of sorts (even in Hollywood). I don’t dress for men, I dress for fashion and it often gets an uprise in conservative people or liberal gay men. Conservatives because I’m not wearing or presenting as “male” and liberal gay men because Weho queens have a certain uniform and anyone who isn’t that, is otherized so it definitely brings up crazy people’s emotions even though that’s not my agenda. I’m not here for the shock. I’m too old and have too much empathy, lol.
I DO think fashion is a great way to express your destain for #45 because you’re literally using your body, your machine, your vehicle to resist, and what’s greater power than taking ownership of your body and taking up space, being angry, and being heard. I like to call it my "pockets full of rage." Everyone was so sad after the election (and I was, don’t get me wrong), and then I got really angry and now I’m just trying to BE love, to be ME, because that’s resistance in itself, just by showing people compassion, love, and understanding and channeling that through my wardrobe. That’s why I’ve been wearing so much color recently, because it makes me happy and I want people to be happy and to smile when they see me. And if you’re a Trump supporter, I hope my outfits make you cringe, barf, question your sexuality, lol.
YIMJ: How does your process go in terms of putting together outfits and shopping for pieces?
JT: To quote the great philosopher Mariah Carey, I like to create “moments.” So whatever I’m wearing, I’m creating a moment with fashion for me, myself, and I. And, hey, if I’m at a basement drag show and others like it and wanna snap a pic, than it’s for them too. Fashion and self-expression really is a form of cathartic therapy. You can tell how someone feels by the way they carry themselves. I’m going through this color-block German art thing right now so everything is very structural, primary color-oriented, and a bit “gallery bitch.” People are frightened to be bold and stand out - especially in Minneapolis - but why be meek if you know you’re a badass?! It’s weird to admit, but sometimes I think or plan my outfits in weeks for Instagrammable moments so that the look book for the week is consistent. For example, I’m going to France this summer so I want my looks for the week to be “petite clown” meets “Marie Antoinette executive” in every picture.
YIMJ: What is your fashion and shopping philosophy?
JT: Everything is overpriced so check the style blogs, check what Kirsten Dunst is wearing, and then go find it thrifting. You’ll be surprised by how similar you can mimick a look, addicted to the hunt, and you’ll have leftover money to get a smoothie or ice cream afterwards. I will only splurge on something IF my heart responds to it by exploding (happens often but I’ve been being good because I’m going to France this summer). If you’re being called by a certain color (baby blue or pastoral pink) or genre (cowgirl hats), listen to it and find as many things as you can in that shade/genre. You can never go wrong with a monochromatic moment (especially in the summer because it’s like, yeah, we get it, it’s 95 degrees out, but I’m unbothered in this blue chiffon two piece). When in doubt, the “white wall theory” works for a reason.
YIMJ: What advice do you have for people seeking to delve into using fashion as a mode to self-expression and exploring who they are?
JT: Unfortunately, millennial culture tokenized off YOLO, but I remember the year was 2009 and Dos XX beer was using the slogan, “You only live once, make sure it’s enough” and my friends and I lived by that mantra (and still do!) So I say GO FOR IT! What’s the worst that can happen? A fifteen year old with a smartphone takes your picture? OK, so you’ve been trolled by an insecure kid. At least you’re living your life! There’s literally NO RULES! Yep, even that “No white after labor day” bullshit is a farce. Just last month, I went to a webby sorta awards show and I dressed as a “sexy scientist” meets “Backstreet Boy” and it was all white and it was the most. While every other gay wore a tight polo, I felt alive. If you try something bold and you’re not feeling it later, toss it out. Side note: anytime I wear my wildest things, they always work and everybody always winds up loving it so fuck the haters and clash those patterns.
YIMJ: Where are your favorite places to shop or get fashion inspiration?
JT: I’ve been an avid visitor of kirsten-dunst.org since I was 14. I think the Brady Bunch girls had the best fashion and so I always imagine what they would wear (or Solange Knowles) and then I know I’m on track. She doesn’t have a stylist and dons the coolest, chicest, street wear (go to the candids section). I love shopping at Squaresville in Silver Lake because they have the most curated 70’s wear (and it won’t burn a hole in your wallet). The Goodwills here are pretty great too.
And be sure to check out the full interview in the Light/Dark 2017 issue of Yoko in Mom Jeans here!