Throughout the ages, fashion has metamorphosed to allow us to express ourselves in a way that best reflects societal standards. But, that’s the problem. This self-expression has always been restricted by set norms. Fashion at its core is art and art is to be explored. What better way to explore this form of art than to break down the boundaries between the masculine and feminine, combine the best of both and do away with the concept of the gender binary? The idea of androgynous clothes is not new but has been popularised by queer culture. Thanks to countless LGBTQIA activists and non-binary influencers, we have now reached a point where androgyny is accepted and even celebrated in the fashion industry. Let us take a deep dive into the world of androgynous fashion and understand what it means, how it’s styled and how to incorporate sustainability in our quest to embrace gender fluidity.
Table of Contents
- 1 What are Androgynous Clothes?
- 2 How do you dress androgynously? 5 Non-Binary Influencers You Need To Follow!
- 3 7 Best Ethical Non-Binary Fashion Brands
- 4 Androgynous and Gender Fluid Outfits ideas
- 5 Androgynous Formalwear
What are Androgynous Clothes?
Fashion has always been an avenue for self-expression and experimentation. However, due to existing gender norms, clothing and accessories seem very restrictive. Androgynous clothes on the other hand do not fall into the typical “male” and “female” category. They do away with the gender binary and embrace inclusivity. Clothes should not be defined by anything. Androgynous clothes are the best way to express your non-binary identity and diversify your wardrobe to look your best.
The origin of the term “androgynous” lies in Latin and it refers to the quality of possessing both masculine and feminine traits. In essence, androgynous fashion thus refers to neutral, inclusive and gender fluid clothing.
What Is the Difference Between Unisex Clothing and Androgynous Clothing?
Didn’t realise they are two entirely different concepts? Don’t worry, neither did I but it’s easy to differentiate once you really delve into it.
Unisex clothing has always been acceptable and normalised to a great extent. In fact many popular brands already incorporate unisex lines. Unisex clothes are designed in such a way so as to be considered socially acceptable when worn by either men or women. We see this with T-shirts, jeans, coats, sweaters, hoodies and more. Essentially they fit into both the “male” and “female” categories as defined by society. You’re really not breaking any gender norms by wearing unisex outfits. Moreover, unisex clothing is preferred when one wants to keep their gender ambiguous.
Androgynous clothes on the other hand incorporate both the feminine and masculine. It is an active resistance to the set gender binary and is a way of fashion that rejects what’s considered socially acceptable. That is definitely the biggest difference. If unisex clothing tells you “Hey this is an outfit you can wear regardless of whether you identify as a man or a woman!”, then androgynous fashion tells you “This is an outfit you can wear regardless of your identity, whether you are gender fluid, non-binary or cis.” This clothing has no labels. It is experimental, fun and fresh!
How do you dress androgynously? 5 Non-Binary Influencers You Need To Follow!
As mentioned earlier, the whole point of dressing androgynously is to blend the masculine and the feminine. Try to overturn stereotypical gender norms and mix skirts with tuxedos or formal pants with crop tops or incorporate traditionally feminine accessories and makeup with masculine clothing. It is important to note that your gender expression through non-binary fashion may not necessarily align with what’s considered stylish in society. This is because designers still aim their content at the masses who want to fit into the restrictive gender binary. But, this shouldn’t stop you from wearing what you want to! As long as YOU feel good wearing something, it doesn’t matter what other people believe.
Honestly, the best thing about being androgynous is that there are no rules! Think out of the box and remove all your mental blocks set by societal standards. Find a piece of clothing that you like? Go ahead and try it on! Of course, even then, I won’t leave you high and dry. Instead, I will provide you with some of the best androgynous fashion influencers to spice up your outfits and inspire you to experiment to the fullest.
1. Alok V Menon @alokvmenon
Alok V Menon is certainly one of the most influential individuals on social media.
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With their unique sense of aesthetic, groundbreaking writeups and inspiring public speaking, Menon is a must follow.
Menon identifies as gender nonconforming and transfeminine which allows them to dabble in unique forms of expression especially through fashion.
They love bright colours, and bold makeup and include both feminine and masculine aesthetics.
2. Jayjay Kings @jayjaykings
Jayjay Kings describes themselves as a self-taught makeup artist turned drag entertainer celebrating diversity and equality.
They go by he/she/they pronouns and no one exemplifies the true potential of non-binary fashion better than them.
They love fishnets and shimmer, bold patterns and their makeup is nothing short of a work of art.
3. Jamie Windust @jamie_windust
Jamie Windust is not only a brilliant writer, public speaker and model who has been named London’s most influential person but they are also an impeccable fashion influencer.
They embrace mixed prints, colours and larger than life cutouts and have created a unique personal brand of fashion.
They strongly advocate for the inclusion of the LGBTQIA community into the fashion industry.
4. Markevious Harris @poeticdrugs
Another personal favourite influencer of mine better known by their Instagram handle ‘Poetic drugs’ adds what the beauty industry has been lacking for so long. Good male representation.
Not only is his makeup looks an absolute serve, but he also delves into gender-fluid fashion like nobody else.
So, if you want some brilliant out of the box inspiration, he is a must follow.
5. Jason @virtual.brat
Jason’s provocative brand of fashion is authentic, stylish and unique.
They incorporate current fashion trends into their outfits and style denim, boots and mini skirts better than anyone else.
Their fun makeup along with their y2k aesthetic makes them stand out as a true beauty and fashion guru.
7 Best Ethical Non-Binary Fashion Brands
Now that we have the gist of it and are ready to embrace genderless androgynous clothing, let us look at some sustainable non-binary fashion brands to spice up our wardrobe. It is not only important for brands to provide gender fluid clothing in order to break gender norms and stereotypes but also for them to be ethical during their production process. They need to be cruelty-free, eco-friendly, protect the rights of their workers and promote sustainability.
KINdom believes that human beings and nature are intrinsically connected to each other and hence we must be responsible stewards of the universe. It is because of this core belief that KINdom is dedicated to using sustainable, natural, recycled, reclaimed, and indigenous materials while also providing consumers with gender-inclusive clothing. They use natural cotton labels printed with water base inkand unbleached hand tags connected by jute twine to reduce pollution. They have replaced plastic packaging with a vegetable-based bio plastic to pack and store each product in. Infact KINdom’s goals align with those of UN’s sustainable development goals.
Not only is KINdom sustainable, but it is also very inclusive with sizes ranging from XS to XXL. They have tees with catchy slogans, wardrobe essentials for everyone and convertible clothes! They truly are the very pinnacle of sustainability providing solutions to overconsumption by creating clothing items that can convert into two different outfits!
Riley studios partners with a number of innovative mills and manufacturers from across the globe to provide consumers with non-binary clothing essentials made from organic and waste materials. They use everything from recycled nylon died with onion skins to shirt buttons made from milk waste all in order to rectify the mistakes of the unethical fashion industry. Moreover, their recycled fabrics divert waste from landfill and all their organic materials have a circular lifespan. They ensure that none of their clothes end up disposed as waste by providing consumers with a lifetime repair guarantee on all products. They have done away with tactics like sales and seasonal releases which promote overconsumption. They have a wide variety of basics in attractive earthy tones and inclusive sizing ranging from XS to XXL.
BIG BUD PRESS
Big Bud Press specialises in gender neutral clothing, is sweatshop free and independently audits all its manufacturing partners. They almost exclusively use 100% cotton fabrics and any non-cotoon fabric is made out of recycled yarns. They use non-toxic dyes and waterbased screen printing for their garments. They also use 100% recycled poly bags for everything from storage to packaging while sending it through mail etc. They are always actively looking for new methods to be more sustainable. They are very VERY size inclusive with sizes ranging from P to 7XL. Their have models with diverse body shapes for maximum representation. This brand is an absolute must if you are bored of your basics and want to experiment with fashion.
The designer for Official Rebrand, MI Legget is a non binary artist and former food justice advocate with a background in sustainable agriculture. They have challenged the boundaries between art and fashion by transforming waste materials into unique pieces of clothing and have showcased their work at New York and Berlin Fashion Week. As mentioned on Official Rebrand’s site, they “celebrate the fluidity of identity, dissociating garments from OR?!’s transformative process celebrates the fluidity of identity, dissociating garments from gendered categories, reintroducing them without arbitrary social constraints.”
Each piece of clothing is unique, one of a kind and utilises preworn garments.
COSMOS stands for Creation Of Styles Made Of Sustainable practises and their name definitely encapsulates their core idea beautifully. In their website itself, they have provided information on their sustainable, ethical, cruelty-free and zero wastewater producing policies. They use sustainably grown and recycled fabrics, their manufacturing partner is BSCI protected and hence take necessary measures to protect their employees, use fabrics created within programs like Better Cotton Initiative to further safeguard farmers and they also use new technology that produces zero wastewater. COSMOS studio only provides simple tees, shirts and caps but we all need these basics to build our outfits around.
Origami Customs prides itself in being a brand for any size, shape, age, ability and gender expression. They use sustainable fabrics which are either deadstocked, locally milled, recycled polyester or regenerative bamboo and modal. All their products are handmade and can even be altered and cut for free! They provide consumers with transmasculine, transfeminine & transfemme products, as well as binders, packing bottoms, and gaffs. They even provide consumers with various helpful resources to help them choose binders, tucking, FAQs on gender diversity and more.
Check out the wesbite.
Older Brother is a conscious apparel company best for androgynous basics. The brands primary focus is to create clothes that can be worn comfortably by everyone and makes it a point to be sustainable in every step of production. They use unique dyes made of hibiscus, turmeric or sustainable wood bark and only use eco conscious materials like organic cottons from Japanese farms, unique blends of wool and woven rice paper, and linen from the flax fields in Japan. So if you are a fan of pleats, muted colours, anti-fit button down shirts then Older Brother is the way to go!
Androgynous and Gender Fluid Outfits ideas
The point of androgynous clothes and fashion is to not fit into the gender binary. Based on the style of some of the influencers we talked about and the tips given on how to dress androgenously, here are a few outfits you can try out!
Billie Eilish’s older style expemplified androgynous fashion. She wore loose fitted clothes to draw attention away from her body and expressed herself in a gender neutral manner. Her often boxy, oversized outfits styled with sneakers and multiple accessories make for the perfect style-inspo. She incorporated unique patterns, bright often gaudy colours (like neon green) and long knee length shorts and skirts into her outfits. While Billie herself does not identify as non-binary, its important to note that this style is a form of expression! Hence, we can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere.
Alok V Menon effortlessly blends feminine elements like heeled shoes and accessories with more masculine clothing like buttoned shirts. Plus the clash of patterns makes his style unique and refreshing. Try his fun and creative outfits out and merge different patterns and come up with your own stylish outfits!!
Sheer fabrics are all the vogue in the realm of non-binary fashion and Harry Styles’ Met Gala 2019 look is a must have for all of us. Monochrome outfits are the best way to delve into gender fluid clothing. Couple that with lace and sheer fabric and you are good to go!
One of the best depictions of gender-fluid clothing in media is that in the popular anime series called Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The creator, Hirohiko Araki has a keen passion for art and fashion and made it a point to incorporate crop tops, cutouts, bright patterns and layering in the clothes of his characters. Infact their personality traits are exemplified by the outfits they wear. His work is even respected in the high fashion world. Gucci, one of the pinnacles of high fashion approached Araki for a collaboration. Araki’s work can serve as some brilliant inspiration as he puts in a lot of research and skims through countless fashion magazines to style his characters this well!
As I mentioned before, there is a fine line between unisex and androgynous clothing so while its easy to only classify pantsuits as “androgynous formal wear”, one can do so much more in events such as weddings and business dinners.
Include both feminine and masculine elements!
Experiment, experiment and experiment!!! You are breaking free of gendered norms so your androgynous clothes need to scream uniqueness and self expression. Billie Porter merging the masculine elements of a tuxedo to his gown makes for the most perfect and elegant formal attire.
BTS has done wonders to the fashion industry with their gender fluid clothing. This look featuring Jimin and J-hope wearing fishnets and a skirt adding flavour to their monochrome formal outfit is another perfect inspiration for formal wear.
Another way to express yourself is to add accessories to your pantsuit. Kristen Stewart often wears multiple chains with her outfits which exemplify her androgynous style perfectly.
Harry Styles spruced up his suit with a simple pearl necklace to make all the difference!
Experiment with colours, fabrics and patterns!
Doesn’t it get boring when people wear the same old colour pallete of blue, grey, white and black and block patterned suits? Non-binary fashion embraces divsersity and hence allows for one to break out of these restrictions and try on the brighest, most fun colours and clashing patterns.
We see Harry Styles incorporate bright colours like pink, purple and yellow in his formal suits.
BTS wowed us all with their monochrome pink suits while they also experiment with different textures and fabrics such as satin and wool.
Ranveer Singh is a perfect inspiration when it comes to styling clashing patterns in formal wear!
All of these styles are purely supposed to serve as inspiration and definitely should not restrict your form of expression. Non-binary fashion is supposed to be bold, freeing and experimental. Normalising gender fluid clothing helps break down oppressive norms and stigmas. The LGBTQIA community have been the pioneers of this form of fashion and it is thanks to their relentless effort that we get to see more variety in the fashion industry. The fashion influencers included in this article are just some of the myriad of individuals who helped revolutionise non-binary fashion.
While, you are free to express yourself however you want, it is also equally important to be eco-friendly and make sustainable choices. I hope you check out the ethical brand recommendations in this article and step into the realm of gender fluid clothing guilt free!