With the idea of gender fluidity on the rise, people are now looking for trends that can break gender stereotypes and enable flexibility in gender norms. Androgynous style is one such trend of clothing that questions and challenges the hierarchical outlook towards male-female clothing.
Being derived from the Latin word “androgyne”. Androgynous is a mixture of masculine and feminine attributes. “Androgyny” refers to a style that aims to break gender stereotypes. It is the kind of clothing that doesn’t associate itself with a specific gender i.e masculinity and feminity. It is basically used and adopted to express oneself as neither a usual boy nor a typical girl, but reaching towards neutrality in gender or becoming genderless. In the current scenario, it is being used to express non-binary gender identities.
Its roots originated from World War I when fashion designer Coco Chanel designed trousers. The much needed comfortable, masculine like silhouettes for women. During that time women were required to do a lot of physical activities which was not convenient in heavy gowns, lace necklines, and petticoats plus women were seeking inventions within Victorian clothing. So, the beach like pyjamas and horse riding trousers were introduced to make clothing made for your body than just putting on a lot of heavy attires. The trend reached Hollywood by the 1930s. Actresses like Marlene Dietrich pushed the boundaries of female attributes and appearances by wearing a suit with a bow tie and a hat on screen. She even kissed another woman in the movies which were seen as scandalous. Besides this, Marlene was known to perform such roles that make one question the female clothing and its characteristics. Moving on, 1966 saw the birth of the first women’s suit Le Smoking. Yves Saint Laurent was the inventor behind the suit. Le Smoking overnight became the epitome of androgyny, revolutionizing the trousers and female clothing.
Up until now, it was women who were changing the female gender norms, but now it was men who were moulding their strong aggressive masculinity into more of a flamboyant style. This all came with the rise of the Peacock Revolution – a cultural movement where homosexuality was decriminalized allowing men wanted to explore clothing and their wants, out of their rigid masculine boundaries. They wanted to feel liberated. Growing their hair long, wearing eye-liner or mascara, through floral and pastel shirts with bell sleeves and long bottoms. Mick Jagger and David Bowie are some prominent celebrities who were greatly influenced by this revolution. Mick Jagger frequently wore crop tops, diamond-covered ruby trousers during his concerts whereas David Bowie style was always flamboyant with a lot of embroideries, vibrant costumes, and lightning bolts painted on his face. The revolution was like a movement where men were trying to what they could find outside their given gender. It’s all about exploring the feminine side without questioning one’s sexuality.
By the 1980s, the fashion industry evidenced a wave of celebrities blurring the grounds of femininity and masculinity. Models like Twiggy with her androgynous look were slaying the covers of the magazine. Jamaican singer Grace Jones became the queen of an androgynous look. The perfectly angular/ shaved hairstyle gave a new look to androgynous haircuts, creative contouring on the face, artistically designed hats, suits, costumes gave a new dimension to feminine characteristics. Her style was way ahead of her time. It was a perfectly balanced trait of masculinity and femininity. On the other hand, a hetero man, singer Prince was also slaying the emerging concept of gender when it came to clothing. His style included a thin moustache, silk suits, feather boas, high-necked ruffle shirt on a thin male frame proving that masculinity is nothing but an assigned role that you can mould or deconstruct according to the way you want.
As time went on, the concept of androgyny kept on transforming; it is now much different than it was back then. Gender Fluidity is the popular new face of androgyny. Now, it is used to create a neutral persona that can be used by both genders. It is now much more than just putting a guy in a dress and a girl in a suit. People don’t like to label themselves now. They just want to be comfortable with the clothes they choose to wear and not the clothes their assigned gender is supposed to wear. There have been numerous instances where many notable personalities like Harry styles, Cody Fern, Jaden Smith, Ezra Miller have gone out of their masculinity by wearing skirts and floral tops, also Nyle DiMarco a gender-fluid model was featured in 7 rings ASL version, wearing girls clothes to reconstruct the norms of gender. While their female counterparts like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Ruby Rose, Kristen Stewart, and Cara Delevingne rocked the suit, loose jackets, and hairy armpits to redefine how the women should look like rather than just a heavy dose of makeup, clothes, and glamour.
American model Rain Dove seems to be the most successful gender-nonconforming model in the current fashion scenario. Describes herself as a gender capitalist. Rain has walked the runways for women as well as men’s fashion week. She always considers herself more on the neutral side of the gender spectrum and is excited to just have a world of gender-neutral instincts. She is best known for her work in androgynous fashion style.
Today, the Millennials are over with the idea of being identified based on their gendered clothing. It doesn’t matter anymore; they can be whatever clothing they feel comfortable in. Many young designers are coming up with genderless clothing. This concept is taking over the mainstream media and is gaining immense attention and popularity. The time is long gone when girls were taught to follow female traits and boys were taught to follow male traits. It’s high time that with changing masculinities we accept the changes through clothing being a prominent lens too. It will not only enable to bring gender neutrality or broadening its horizons but will also normalize the art of experimenting.