Spotlight: Phil from DC

Spotlight: Phil from DC

Tags: Spotlight

What do you go by?

Phil (aka felipeanuel on the socials, aka Barlow Hopper the sewist)

Where are you based?

Maryland, in the outer circle of the Washington, DC suburbs.

How did you get into skirts?

As a crafter, I've always found ready-made clothing for big dudes uninspiring.

This frustration fueled my journey into creating pieces for my own wardrobe. Starting with crochet scarves and beanies, I eventually tackled sweaters. A year ago, yearning for further creative expression and a kaftan for a Vegas Bear run, I picked up sewing.

Last year, concerts became my runway. For a Nick Offerman show, I paid homage to Bill and Frank from The Last of Us with a roughly made strawberry print shirt.

Hand, on pink and green strawberry print fabric, on a table, next to sewing machine.

A rainy Beyonce concert called for a semi-decent lemon print tank top and a honeybee-speckled crop top combo. My go-to bottoms were judo shorts or boring black pants, but Jessie Ware's "What's Your Pleasure" was my pandemic lifeline, especially "Save a Kiss." Determined to celebrate in chocolatey luxury for her concert, I sewed a brown floral crop top and a shimmery cocoa tank top, pearls at the ready.

Feeling a newfound confidence in my sewing skills, I set my sights on a full outfit. Matching Palazzo pants felt daunting, so I turned to YouTube tutorials for gathered skirts. I made it! However, my triumph was short-lived. Two blocks into my walk to the 930 Club, I was tugging at a loose waist and tripping on an overly long hem. Despite these mishaps, the night was a blast, and I was hooked on skirts. They offered a newfound freedom and comfort.

What’s your favourite thing about skirts?

That extra level of creativity and expression it offers me.

Is it hard to find skirts that you want to wear?

Not really because I make my own and Jo-Ann Fabric is always enabling me with a great sale on flannel and 25% off coupons. About the only thing that's hard to find is the energy or the imagination sometimes. I'm a creative vampire. I love sewing late into the night. I would love a pleated skirt or kilt one day, but the thought of how much fabric, time and space I need always feels so daunting. So I'm good with my gathered rectangle skirts for now.

Can you describe any challenges you’ve faced in wearing skirts?

I don't know if it's because I'm too partial to bigger and fuller skirts but doors have become my arch nemesis. I accidentally got caught in my front door, in front of the neighbors. Car doors too! Make sure you pull it all the way inside—especially when it is raining.

Can you share a meaningful story around skirts?

Not really.

I'm just bummed at how long it took me to discover the joy and comfort of skirts.

The seed was always there. As a child, I vividly remember sitting on the church steps where my father preached, with a shoebox of fabric beside me. I used the fabric to make clothes for my Mickey Mouse doll. Then my Mickey Mouse doll and the fabric disappeared.

My maternal grandmother was a sewist. I remember sticking closer to her than my grandfather with the rest of my brothers and cousin in the tobacco fields. My mom was a clothes horse and always a very fashionable church lady.

Being a boy, these were things I couldn't openly admire or emulate—or so I thought until 40 plus years later.

What situations do you wear or avoid wearing skirts?

Living in a fairly liberal community and working at the performing arts center, skirts are basically my uniform now. Visiting family down South might mean switching things up a bit, clothes-wise.

But hey, being tall, Black, and fat, I know I turn heads anyway, right? So I might as well be rockin them down there too.

If you could share one thing with the world around skirts, masculinity, or nonconformity, what would it be?

Seeing the hate thrown around about gender identity lately is both scary and absurd. Like, seriously? Who cares what someone wears or how they identify if it doesn't affect you? Let folks live their lives.

Any other thoughts, comments, or aspirations?

I'm a bit of a rebel—a quiet rebel, but my prints are loud. Be well. Rebel.

Phil, in a bathroom with hands pushing on ceiling, wearing a long black skirt with gold and orange tiger print, and a black long sleeve shirt with skull and cross bones.

Tags: Spotlight

Back to blog

1 comment

Love it. You’re SLAYIN’!


Leave a comment