There were many things we were taught as children that didn’t really pan out in our adult life. You need to go to university to get a good job. Pink and dresses are for girls, not for boys.
But as we’ve grown up, we’ve realised that these ‘rules’ are made to be broken. Why should colours be limited to one gender? And who’s to say men can’t look amazing in more feminine attire? We’ve seen countless celebrities break the mould once again in recent times, from Lil Nas X to Cara Delevigine.
The early days of gender-fluid fashion
Right now, a lot of celebrities are defying gendered boundaries with their clothing, We’ve seeing this particularly amongst young male celebrities, with Harry Styles, Lil Nas X, and Troye Sivan leading the way. But the history of gender-fluid fashion goes back much further, Before Harry Styles, we had David Bowie on stage in flowy frocks and Prince in a minidress in a Betsey Johnson advert.
Androgynous fashion wasn’t just limited to men either. Grace Jones embraced masculinity in her style, donning power suits with huge shoulder pads and wearing her hair in a conventionally sharp, masculine style. Grace Jones embodied gender ambiguity perfectly, with one commentator remarking that she executed it so well, some people thought she was a drag queen.
Flamboyant gender-fluid fashion defined the 1970s and 1980s, which is when many of us were first introduce to these looks. Princes, David Bowie, and Grace Jones led the way , but Queen, the Cure, Duran Duran, and other groups embraced make-up and feminine style before our icons of today.
While this eras were many people’s first introduction to gender-fluid style, Marlene Dietrich was breaking boundaries back in 1932 with her masculine suits. We know ancient Roman and Egyptian men wore togas and dresses, while Scythian women in Greece wore trousers to fight in wars.
The new era of gender-fluid fashion
After a lull in the 1990s and early 2000s, unisex fashion is back with a bang. Since reaching the height of fame in 2018, Billy Porter has been redefining red carpet fashion, stepping out in everything from oversized pearl necklaces and stunning embroidered capes to his iconic velvet gown and tuxedo combination at the 2019 Academy Awards.
Harry Styles is one of the most talked-about celebrities when it comes to modern androgynous style. His personal style gradually grew more flamboyant throughout the years; his career in One Direction began with skinny jeans and plain tees but progressed to quirky, printed silk shirts before he began to don flowery suits, sequined jumpsuits, and eventually feather boas and dresses. Style proves that you don’t have to wear dresses alone to blur gender boundaries; many of his most iconic outfits feature sheer detailing, sequins, bows, and high-waisted fits that we’d ordinary see on womens.
For women, Zendaya and Kristen Stewart and redefining gender fashion norms. Kristen Stewart embodies what we’ve come to know as “cool girl” style, pairing slim-fit or boxy suits with slicked back, androgynous hairstyle and perfectly smudged eyeliner. Zendaya floats between ultra-feminine and masculine, stepping out in oversized suits and mullets one day, and feathery ballgowns the next.
Why gender-fluid fashion is so positive
Unisex and gender-fluid fashion removes long-held assumptions about what clothing is appropriate for men and women. No longer are we constrained in the way we express ourselves. We can be experimental and fun with our outfits, how we wear our hair, or even whether we have fun with makeup.
Fashion designer Virgil Abloh, responsible for the couture genderless looks we’ve seen on Kid Cudi, Lil Nas X, and others, comments: ” For me, it represents personal empowerment despite any social norm. It vehemently represents confidence.” Billy Porter, meanwhile, believe it’s time to tear down traditional gender norm, especially with regard to men’s fashion : “Women are allowed to be masculine and that’s considered strong and powerful… But when men wears dresses, it’s a thing. I’m over that. We need to shatter that stereotype.”
Fashion brand are sitting up and paying attention. A number of leading designer’s have launched unisex collections recently. London Fashion Week also announced it was going gender neutral in 2021.
Bringing genderless fashion in your style
It you’re never embraced androgynous fashion before, you might be wondering where to start. But it doesn’t have to be daunting, and you don’t have to dress extravagantly as the celebrities leading the way.
Daniel Craig’s pink velvet blazer set tongues wagging when he wore it to No Time to Die premiere, highlighting that playing with colours is still one way you can embrace gender-fluid fashion. Incorporating lighter pastels and bold pinks into your outfit is a good place to start.
Another way to ease into gender-fluid fashion is through your accessories. Gone are the days of handbags and backpacks only being used by women- a crossbody satchel or studded backpack is a fun way to mix up your look. Even something as simple as a colourful designer umbrella elevates your look in a simple, gender-fluid way. Birdcage umbrella are especially chic!
Once you’re comfortable with the basics, think about your silhouettes. This is a key way to embrace genderless fashion- think boxy suits and brogues for women, and ruffles or high-waisted trousers for men. You could even keep your silhouette clean and sleek for a big event while still standing out from the crowd – Troye Sivan proved that in his slim-fit, low-cut black dress at the 2021 Met Gala. Depending on how bold you already are in your sartorial choices, the sky really is the limit.
Gender-fluid fashion is huge right now, and it’s here to stay. it’s certainly not the first time androgyny has been in style- from flamboyant catsuits in the 1970s to Kurt Cobain’s famed yellow ballgown in the 1990s, we’ve seen stars defy gender expectations for decades. As people become more comfortable with dressing how they want, we expect genderless fashion to become the norm. Whether you mix it up with a traditional ladies umbrella or you wear a structure tuxedo, it’s time to dress the way you want to dress. Because why should our gender limit our self-expression?