Plaid's leading role in YOUR SISTER'S SISTER

In case you were wondering what one wears (let alone what three people wear) in the midst of a bizarre love triangle, the answer is plaid. At least that’s what self-taught director Lynn Shelton has in mind for her latest film offering, YOUR SISTER’S SITER, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and opens today.

The film stars the ever-engaging Emily Blunt as Iris, along with Mark Duplass as Jack, and Rosemarie Dewitt as Hannah—Iris’s lesbian half-sister. In order to move on from the loss of his brother, Iris encourages Jack to use her family’s country house on a Canadian island where he meets Hannah. Though both prefer the fairer sex as a bedmate, a bottle of tequila blurs that line, leading to a comedic morning after where the bedmates try to keep the affair a secret.

Shelton’s oeuvre enjoys the ambiguity within sexuality, or at least the questioning of it. So it fitting that the film’s costuming rests in a neutral realm. And tartans have a storied past within the Lesbian community that has developed into a stereotype embraced by women-who-love-women in a manner best summed up as U-Haul chic. Besides that, what dude out there doesn’t own a flannel? Their old Brooks Brothers plaid button down from prep school days counts. And it’s the charm of the quotidian drag that reinforces, while inverting, notions of masculinity that diffuses some of the tension between the sexes.

Aside from reading too deep into the wardrobe of a film, there is a gender neutralizing element at play with the fare isles knits and plaid at hand that makes the issue of sexuality less foreign or energized. Be it the comfort of a flannel tartan worn under a wool lined waist coat and a pair of Red Wing boots, it seems wilderness apparel and a love that dares not speak its name are still accepted social signifiers in a world post GO FISH. Besides, plaids can be casual, like sex between sexually ambiguous consenting adults. And that’s a good thing.