Culture

Androgynous style challenges outmoded fashion norms

Traditional fashion rules for both men and women are being broken.

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By Charlynn Jelier (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: March 18, 2015

Janelle Monae throws out typical gendered syles in favour of monochromatic suits.

Traditional fashion rules for both men and women are being broken. Androgynous fashion, which naturally incorporates elements from both male and female styles, is increasing in popularity and calling out outmoded perceptions of “gender-suitable” clothing.

Dressing androgynously is about being fashionable while being comfortable. “Less is more” is the motto of this minimalistic trend. Take boyfriend jeans, a wardrobe staple, as an example. As the name suggests, you can casually throw on an old pair of your boyfriend’s jeans and adopt them for your own. Flannels are also easily swiped from your boyfriend or even brother’s closet. The same goes for men. Skinny jeans are no longer restricted to women. Scarves — and even necklaces for the fashion-forward — are slowly working their way into the average male wardrobe.

For women taking this approach for the first time, try adding one androgynous piece to an outfit: Oxford shoes, a blazer, a hat, or even a button-up are versatile and can be worn on many different occasions. Adding a pair of skinny jeans to contrast an oversized sweater keeps your outfit’s shape. Red lipstick or a statement necklace keeps a more masculine outfit looking feminine.

For those who prefer their entire outfit to be androgynous, the key is playing with silhouettes; for a tuxedo suit, slimmer lapels draw attention away from the bust, while a silky blouse keeps the look balanced. Denim tops or jackets tend to broaden the shoulders, while a boat-cut neckline minimizes the bust. For bottoms, having a cropped hemline shows a bit of ankle and adds interest to the silhouette. Try to veer away from lighter colours; opt for pastels and darker shades of red, green, and blue. As for accessories, a pair of earrings or a basic bracelet are simplistic and don’t draw much attention.

For men, dressing androgynously can be slightly more challenging. While wearing dresses in the fashion world (Marc Jacobs, anyone?) is becoming more acceptable, it’s more difficult in everyday life. Dipping a toe into androgynous waters can seem, scary but it’s surprisingly easy to break into it. Picking a shirt or a pair of pants in a colour that has been seen as more feminine in the past is an easy way to add style without sacrificing comfort. Once again, it’s important to play with silhouettes. Adding a classic scarf creates definition in an outfit. A cross-body bag is fashionable and practical. For those slightly more daring, try adding a long, flowy shirt or a pair of skinny jeans. Upgrade that classic scarf to a lighter wrap scarf. To really push the envelope, a wrap skirt will do the trick.

Androgynous fashion is all about being comfortable while making a statement. Wearing what makes you feel good is the goal of every fashion trend, and this one is no different. Play with different shapes and colours and styles. Push the boundaries and experiment until you find something that makes you feel fabulous; after all, fashion is all about having fun!

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