Everyday Style: Fiona “Foz” Casey

Everyday Style: Fiona “Foz” Casey

by Angelo Ragaza - January 2023

Fiona “Foz” Casey (@fozcasey)

“For my seventh birthday, I asked for a bowtie. I wore boys’ checked trousers. I absolutely refused to wear dresses. My mother just gave in and let me get whatever made me happy.”

Could you tell us a little about yourself? I am a software developer, I live in Dublin, Ireland.

How would you describe your style? Dapper butch

Who or what is your style inspiration? I’ve always been a big Elvis fan, so I’ve been on and off with the pompadour hair style for years. My dad was Elvis mad. When I was a kid, my first album was Elvis. It was only when I was a young adult that I realised Elvis’s misogyny, and I started to branch out a bit. But I never lost that love for his music and style. I’ve even been to Graceland.

Were you always comfortable dressing in what is traditionally defined as “menswear”? As a child, everyone thought I was a boy. Little boys would call at the house: ‘Where’s Fiona? Where is he?’ For my seventh birthday, I asked for a bowtie. I wore boys’ checked trousers, and I had brown suede shoes because I couldn’t find blue suede shoes. I absolutely refused to wear dresses. My mother just gave in and let me get whatever made me happy. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised all those things my mother did to make it easy for me, including never telling me to shave my legs, or wear makeup or tweeze my eyebrows. I remember being 17 at school, and someone made a comment about my eyebrows and the hair on my legs. I didn’t even realise that all girls plucked and shaved. But I didn’t come out [as a lesbian] until I was 21. I have a diary entry from when I was 11: ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Fiona. Some people are really gay. This is just a phase.’ I never really had boyfriends. I slept with men and I tried all of that. But my friends all knew. When I came out, it was not a surprise to anyone.

Your hair is fantastic. How do you achieve that pompadour? I now have a barber who comes to my house. Before that, I went to Sam’s Barbers, a long-established barber in Dublin. For years, it was hard to find a barber to cut my hair. A lot won’t, because you’re a woman. They have an agreement with hairdressers, and say ridiculous things, like, ‘I don’t know how to cut women’s hair.’ They cannot believe that a woman wants to walk out with short back and sides. And I have been charged more in a barber’s because I’m a woman. I once had an argument and that person met me in the middle. Suffice it to say, I didn’t go back. I’ve always paid very little, maybe ten euros for my hair. Now I pay my private barber a lot more. It’s in my budget. I put it in my monthly spreadsheet. I don’t care how much it costs. He’s my ‘hair-apy.’ And as for hair products, I always use Pomp & Co.

A lot of people took casual dressing to new lengths during COVID. But on your Instagram, you seem to have done the opposite. When the COVID lockdown happened, I was just getting divorced. I only had my daughter every second weekend. We were really locked down, with a two kilometre limit. You could go to your local shop, but that was it. Sport, which I love, was all cancelled. I really needed something. So I decided to get dressed up every single night in nice clothes, a three-piece suit, shoes, hat, the works. I’d take a photo and put it on Instagram. It was motivation for me, every day. There were days when I’d put on a three-piece suit to just walk around the block to buy milk. I didn’t really know Instagram much before that. I followed a few tattoo artists. But I found this really lovely community of butch women and vintage lovers. And then I kept it up. It makes me feel good.

Where do you get your vintage shirts? I’ve always wanted to wear them. It’s only really since I met my partner, who’s American and from L.A., that I’ve been able to go to the big markets there and pick up a few. It’s very hard in Ireland and England to get vintage clothes, from the 50s especially, which is the era I like. Post-war there just wasn’t the fashion that you had in the states. I always get clothes envy at Crash the Party in L.A. And Renee's Raw Vintage near San Francisco usually has something that catches my eye.

Fit is a challenge even when buying new. How do you get vintage to look so sharp? In general, things do not fit. Luckily my partner is very good with a sewing machine and often tailors things for me. Some of the vintage things, you don’t want to change. So I have to just find smaller things. Some of the ‘50s stuff works, because it’s kind of high waisted, hides the hips a bit, and all the tops match the high-waisted trousers. My partner will take in shirts or adjust sleeves, which I often need with jackets. I did get a suit tailored once. Tailors, a lot of them, don’t really believe you want what you’re asking for. They want to put more curve in it, or something that I don’t want.

What are your other style obsessions? I have been obsessed with hats my whole life. A lot of this goes back to the black and white movies I watched with my father, starring Bogie and Bacall, or Gene Kelly. I always remembered the men in the stories. I wanted their hats, their clothes, all the accessories. It made me want to smoke (I don’t). I’m very lucky—because of my small head, vintage hats fit me. Often I get a good price, because it won’t fit the modern man’s head. I got a beaver hat at the Long Beach flea market last year. It was probably three or four hundred dollars. The seller said she’d never seen anyone it actually fits. She gave it to me for fifty.

How do you deal with footwear? I have a lot of shoes and boots, like 25, 30 pairs. I buy men’s shoes. Tomboy Toes is a company that makes masculine shoes for women. I have bought a pair of their shoes. The main source I get men’s shoes from now is Vintage Foundry Company. Now I can have them shipped to L.A. and don’t have to pay for the ridiculous shipping to Ireland.

What other accessories do you collect? Watches are a dangerous habit. They are expensive. I have casual watches, gold ones for my brown and navy ‘colour way,’ silver ones and pocket watches. I have a number of unusual Accurist pieces. My favourite watch at the moment is my Timex 1978 reissue. It's just the right amount of retro, and it's the year I was born.

You seem happy and confident on your Instagram. Were you always so confident about your appearance? In my early 20s, I did try to conform, mainly for other people. I had a partner who wanted to see my feminine body more. After coming out, she didn’t want people to think she was with a man. I never wore dresses or makeup or let my hair grow long. But I did wear tight women’s tops and shave my legs. That partner realised, actually, ‘I’m happier with you the way you are. I like you in your shirts and your button-downs.’ And I went back to that look. Now, two divorces in, I’m like, I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I’m just doing what I want to do. 

Angelo Ragaza has written for Vogue, the New York Times, Newsweek and other outlets and lives in New York City.