Androgynous fashion is based on this gender expression, or unisex clothing and accessories are intended to avoid male or female distinctions, instead embracing non-binary identity.
Androgynous clothing is both gender-neutral and inclusive. The first visually led exploration of androgyny—from ancient representations to its current prevalence in fashion and beyond.
Fashion has always been an ever-evolving and dynamic industry that reflects changes in societal values, attitudes, and norms. In recent years, a new fashion trend has emerged—androgynous fashion.
This article will explore everything there is to know about androgynous fashion, from its origins to its current prevalence. It will discuss how this look has progressed over time and its appeal for both men and women.
What is Androgynous Fashion?
Androgynous fashion often involves blending traditionally gendered elements, such as combining masculine and feminine cuts, fabrics, colors, and styles in a gender-neutral way.
Androgynous fashion has been popular for decades and has been embraced by many people, including those who identify as gender-neutral, non-binary, genderqueer, or gender-nonconforming.
It is often characterized by a minimalist and practical style emphasizing comfort, simplicity, and functionality over ornamentation and extravagance. Androgynous fashion can be seen in various clothing items, such as suits, blazers, jeans, button-up shirts, t-shirts, sneakers, and boots.
The Meaning of Androgynous Fashion
“Androgynous” is derived from the Latin word “androgyne,” defined as a combination of masculine and feminine physical characteristics. Androgynous fashion is based on this gender expression. Ewing and Mackrell (2002) state that gender stereotypes typically limit people’s clothing choices.
Rose Bell, a Ph.D. candidate and teaching associate in the philosophy department at Syracuse University uses the pronoun “they.” They are careful to emphasize that while they identify as androgynous, genderfluid, and nonbinary, they cannot speak for everyone who identifies as one or more of these descriptors — which, for the record, are entirely different things.
Types of Androgynous Fashion
There are several types of androgynous fashion, each with unique characteristics and style elements. Here are some of the most common types of androgynous fashion:
- Minimalist Androgyny: This style emphasizes simplicity and clean lines. It often features neutral colors, classic cuts, and minimalist accessories.
- Glam Androgyny: This style is more ornate and extravagant, featuring bold colors, high-end fabrics, and eye-catching accessories. It often blurs the lines between masculine and feminine aesthetics.
- Sporty Androgyny: This style features sporty and functional clothing items like hoodies, joggers, and sneakers, but with a gender-neutral twist. It often combines masculine and feminine elements to create a unique and functional look.
- Grunge Androgyny: This style draws inspiration from the grunge subculture of the 1990s, featuring oversized clothing, layers, and rugged fabrics. It often blends masculine and feminine styles in a way that is effortlessly cool and casual.
- Retro Androgyny: This style draws inspiration from vintage fashion, featuring classic cuts, bold patterns, and nostalgic accessories. It often incorporates elements from various decades to create a unique and eclectic look.
Androgynous fashion allows individuals to express themselves in a way that feels authentic and comfortable, regardless of traditional gender roles or stereotypes.
What is the Origin of Androgynous Fashion?
Women activists at the time, such as Luisa Capetillo, a women’s rights activist and the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear trousers in public.
Trousers were traditionally associated with men and were frowned upon by women. Female spies were introduced in the 1800s, and Vivandières wore a specific dress uniform over trousers.
McNeil and Peter (1999) said the first signs of ‘rebellious’ androgynous fashion styles appeared in England and France.
Initially desired as a form of exclusive dressing, androgynous fashion was the preferred method of visually distinguishing the aristocratic class.
During the 1800s, driven by the industrial revolution and the uniforms it brought, male and female-style uniformity began to gain traction.
The army recruited female spies, who had to wear unique uniforms consisting of jackets and dresses over trousers, accelerating the shift.
The Sources of Inspiration
Androgynous fashion draws inspiration from various sources, including historical fashion, cultural movements, and contemporary trends. Here are some of the primary sources of inspiration for androgynous style:
Androgynous fashion has roots in historical manners, particularly in the styles of the 1920s and 1930s, when women began to wear looser, more masculine clothing. Gender-bending icons like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn also popularized the androgynous look.
Various cultural movements, such as punk, grunge, androgynous glam rock, and the LGBTQ+ movement, have influenced androgynous fashion. These subcultures often challenged traditional gender norms and celebrated gender fluidity.
Contemporary Trends: Androgynous fashion is also influenced by current trends, such as streetwear, minimalism, and athleisure. Many modern designers and brands are embracing androgynous styles and incorporating gender-neutral elements into their collections.
Androgynous fashion has also been influenced by art and film, particularly by the work of artists like Jean-Paul Gaultier and David Bowie, who embraced gender fluidity in their creations.
Androgynous fashion has been influenced by gender theory, which challenges the notion of binary gender and celebrates the diversity of gender expression.
Many individuals who embrace androgynous styles identify as non-binary, genderqueer, or gender-nonconforming and use fashion to express their gender identity.
Popular Androgynous Fashion Designers
Many fashion designers incorporate androgynous elements into their collections. Here are some of the most popular androgynous fashion designers:
- Rad Hourani: Rad Hourani is a Canadian fashion designer known for his gender-neutral designs. His collections feature unisex clothing emphasizing clean lines and minimalist shapes.
- Ann Demeulemeester: Ann Demeulemeester is a Belgian fashion designer known for her dark and edgy aesthetic. Her collections often incorporate masculine and feminine elements, creating a gender-bending look.
- J.W. Anderson: J.W. Anderson is a British fashion designer known for innovative and gender-bending designs. His collections often feature unisex clothing, emphasizing oversized shapes and asymmetrical cuts.
- Alessandro Michele: Alessandro Michele is an Italian fashion designer who is Gucci’s creative director. His collections often feature gender-bending designs, emphasizing bold prints and playful details.
- Rick Owens: Rick Owens is an American fashion designer known for his dark and edgy aesthetic. His collections often incorporate androgynous elements, emphasizing oversized shapes and unconventional materials.
- Haider Ackermann: Haider Ackermann is a Colombian-born fashion designer known for his dramatic and avant-garde designs. His collections often feature gender-bending clothing, emphasizing intricate draping and bold prints.
These designers and many others continue to push the boundaries of gendered fashion, creating innovative and inclusive designs that celebrate the diversity of gender expression.
Why is Androgynous Style Still Popular?
Androgynous style continues to be famous for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the main reasons why androgynous fashion is still in demand:
As society becomes more inclusive and accepting of diverse gender identities, people are increasingly rejecting traditional gender norms and embracing gender-fluid fashion. Androgynous fashion provides a way to express oneself without conforming to gender stereotypes.
Androgynous fashion is often comfortable and practical, with loose-fitting and unstructured designs prioritizing function over form. This type of clothing can be worn in various settings and allows for greater freedom of movement.
Androgynous fashion can be worn by people of any gender and dressed up or down to suit different occasions. It allows for greater versatility and flexibility in personal style.
Androgynous fashion often embraces minimalism, with clean lines and simple designs that focus on the essentials. This can appeal to people who want to simplify their wardrobe and reduce their environmental impact.
Androgynous fashion allows individuals to express themselves in a way that feels authentic and comfortable, regardless of traditional gender roles or stereotypes. It provides a way to experiment with different styles and create a unique and personalized look.
Androgynous fashion represents a shift from traditional gender roles and stereotypes towards a more inclusive and diverse vision of fashion. It continues to be popular because it allows individuals to express themselves in a way that feels true to their identity while prioritizing comfort, versatility, and personal expression.
The Evolution of Androgynous Fashion
Androgynous fashion has undergone an evolution over the years, with changes in societal attitudes toward gender expression, cultural movements, and fashion trends.
Here is a brief overview of the development of androgynous fashion:
- Early 20th Century: Androgynous fashion first emerged in the early 20th century, with women adopting looser, more masculine clothing styles in response to changing social and economic conditions. The androgynous look was popularized by figures like Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn, who wore tailored suits and pantsuits.
- The 1960s and 1970s: The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of the counterculture and the feminist movement, which challenged traditional gender roles and celebrated gender fluidity. This led to the increased popularity of androgynous fashion, with unisex clothing becoming more common.
- The 1980s and 1990s: The 1980s and 1990s saw the emergence of punk and grunge subcultures, which embraced a more edgy and rebellious version of androgynous fashion. This included elements like leather jackets ripped jeans, and combat boots.
- The 2000s: In the 2000s, androgynous fashion became more mainstream, with designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Helmut Lang incorporating gender-neutral elements into their collections. This also led to the increased popularity of unisex clothing lines.
- Today: Androgynous fashion continues to evolve, with an increased emphasis on inclusivity and diversity. Many contemporary designers are embracing androgynous style, emphasizing fluidity and individual expression. Androgynous fashion is also being championed by the LGBTQ+ community, who use fashion to express their gender identity.
The evolution of androgynous fashion reflects changing attitudes toward gender expression and a growing emphasis on inclusivity and diversity in fashion.
What are the Characteristics of Androgynous Fashion?
Androgynous fashion is characterized by blending traditionally masculine and feminine clothing elements, resulting in a gender-neutral or gender-fluid look.
Here are some of the critical characteristics of androgynous style:
Gender-neutral: Androgynous fashion is designed to be worn by people of any gender and does not conform to traditional gender norms or expectations.
Minimalist: Androgynous fashion often features clean lines and simple designs, emphasizing functionality and practicality.
Loose-fitting: Androgynous clothing is often loose-fitting and unstructured, providing a relaxed and comfortable fit.
Neutral colors: Androgynous fashion often incorporates neutral colors like black, white, and gray, which do not conform to traditional gendered color schemes.
Mixed textures: Androgynous fashion combines textures with contrasting fabrics like leather and lace or wool and silk.
Tailored cuts: Androgynous fashion often includes tailored cuts and structured designs, emphasizing clean lines and classic silhouettes.
Unisex clothing: Androgynous fashion often features blazers, button-up shirts, and pantsuits, which people of any gender can wear.
Androgynous fashion represents a departure from traditional gender norms and expectations and is characterized by a mix of masculine and feminine elements that create a unique and gender-fluid look.
The Colors of Androgynous Fashion
The colors of androgynous fashion are often neutral and understated, emphasizing classic and timeless hues. Here are some of the most common colors used in the androgynous style:
- Black is a staple color in androgynous fashion, with its classic and versatile appeal. It adds a sense of sophistication and edginess to any outfit.
- White is another classic and timeless color often used in androgynous fashion. It adds a sense of crispness and cleanliness to an outfit.
- Gray is a neutral color that can be dressed up or down and is a popular choice in androgynous fashion. It adds a sense of calmness and sophistication to any outfit.
- Navy is a classic and versatile color that can be used in androgynous fashion to add a sense of formality or sophistication to an outfit.
- Olive is a muted green color often used in androgynous fashion to add a touch of earthiness and authenticity to an outfit.
- Khaki is a beige or light brown color often used in androgynous fashion to add a sense of utilitarianism and practicality to an outfit.
The colors used in androgynous fashion are often neutral and understated, with an emphasis on classic and timeless hues that can be dressed up or down and worn by people of any gender.
How to Dress Androgynous Style?
Dressing in an androgynous style is all about mixing masculine and feminine elements to create a unique and gender-neutral look that expresses your individuality.
If you’re interested in dressing in an androgynous style, here are some tips to get you started:
Start with the basics: The foundation of an androgynous wardrobe is made up of classic pieces like button-up shirts, blazers, tailored pants, and loafers. These items can be mixed and matched to create a range of gender-neutral looks.
Experiment with silhouettes: Androgynous fashion is all about playing with traditional silhouettes to create a gender-neutral look. Try pairing a tailored blazer with loose-fitting pants, or wearing a fitted shirt with baggy jeans.
Embrace neutral colors: Neutral colors like black, white, gray, and beige are a staple of androgynous fashion. These colors are timeless and versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
Mix and match textures: Androgynous fashion is all about mixing and matching different textures and fabrics to create a unique and edgy look. Try pairing leather with silk, or wool with lace.
Accessorize with minimalism: Keep accessories to a minimum with simple and clean designs. Avoid overly feminine or masculine jewelry or accessories, and instead, opt for minimalist pieces that add a touch of sophistication.
Embrace your individuality: Androgynous fashion is all about embracing your individuality and expressing yourself in a way that feels authentic to you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles and looks to find what works for you.
Androgynous Fashion Outfits
Androgynous fashion outfits are clothing combinations that mix masculine and feminine elements to create a gender-neutral or gender-fluid look.
Here are some examples of androgynous fashion outfits:
Oversized blazer with fitted trousers: This outfit combines a traditionally masculine blazer with a fitted pair of pants to create a gender-neutral look. The blazer adds structure and formality, while the fitted trousers create a sense of femininity.
Button-up shirt with loose-fitting pants: This outfit combines a classic button-up shirt with a pair of loose-fitting pants to create a gender-neutral look. The shirt adds a touch of formality, while the loose-fitting pants create a sense of comfort and ease.
Suit with sneakers: This outfit combines a traditionally masculine suit with a pair of sneakers to create a gender-neutral look. The suit adds structure and formality, while the sneakers create a sense of playfulness and casualness.
Jumpsuit: A jumpsuit is a gender-neutral clothing item that can be dressed up or down. It combines the structure and formality of a suit with the ease and comfort of a one-piece outfit.
Turtleneck with wide-leg pants: This outfit combines a classic turtleneck sweater with a pair of wide-leg pants to create a gender-neutral look. The turtleneck adds warmth and structure, while the wide-leg pants create a sense of comfort and flow.
Androgynous fashion outfits mix traditionally masculine and feminine elements to create a unique and gender-neutral look that expresses individuality and creativity.
Androgynous Fashion Makeups
Androgynous makeup is an extension of this trend, allowing people to mix feminine and masculine elements while creating unique looks that are all their own.
Androgynous Fashion Makeup Tips: Start with a light base – use either tinted moisturizer or foundation to even out your skin tone without looking too heavy or caked on.
Opt for neutral shades such as taupe, grey, and browns for a more ‘mixed’ look for eyeshadow. Apply eyeliner in both black and white to create contrast before finally adding mascara to your top lashes only.
Androgynous hairstyles are the perfect way to achieve this look, blurring the lines between traditional male and female hairstyles. Whether you’re looking for an edgy undercut or something more natural and effortless, many great options exist for androgynous hairstyles.
For those who don’t want to commit to dramatic changes like an undercut, some simple styling tweaks can help create a more androgynous look. This includes softening up sharp lines with texture products such as salt sprays or sea spray, layering longer styles, and using fringe bangs to help create volume around the face while maintaining the length of hair at the back.
Here are some Androgynous Hairstyle Ideas
- Short Pixie Cut
- Choppy Pixie Cut
- Shaved Sides
- Bowl Cut
- Buzz Cut
Androgynous Fashion Accessories
Accessories play a huge role in creating an androgynous look. Regarding accessories, shoes are often a great way to add an androgynous touch to a look. A pair of chunky boots or classic loafers can make for a stylishly casual addition to any outfit that is both sleek and edgy.
For something more dressy, opt for an Oxford boot or brogue with laces or buckles for added detail – sure to turn heads! Jewelry is another excellent way to bring together masculine and feminine elements.