Androgynous fashion blurs gender lines

By KATRINA VRAKAS

Photo by KATRINA VRAKAS
Alverno student Brianne Kulick models androgynous styles.

Have you ever sneaked into your boyfriend’s closet to scope out his wardrobe and steal a piece or two of his clothing?

His sleek black blazer, paired with your dark wash skinny jeans and chunky gold jewelry, would create an amazing look. Even his tattered and torn jeans would look great with a fitted black top and sky-high stilettos.

If you’ve ever experimented with the androgynous fashion trend, you’re not alone. The idea of gender-neutral clothing has a lengthy history and is still prominent today. Tailored suits for women and skinny jeans for men are two common examples of this trend.

The trend started to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s when self-expression and freedom were popular notions.Styles started showing up on famous runways by designers such as Yves Saint Laurent.

“Yves Saint Laurent in the ‘60s …He was the first one to make pantsuits. Pantsuits are kind of passé now but at the time it was really, really daring,” said Elizabeth Gaston, Mount Mary University fashion professor and historical fashion expert.

Examples of androgynous fashion can be found even earlier in history.

In the 1900s, Coco Chanel was often seen wearing her boyfriend’s ties and blazer coats, and was one of the first designers to create menswear styles for women. And it wasn’t just designers who exploring this trend.

Icons such as David Bowie, Annie Lennox and Marlene Dietrich were known for their famous androgynous looks.

Designers today continue to incorporate this trend into their collections. Burberry, Gucci, Rick Owens and Dries Van Noten all do this.

“Because of the fact that we are becoming more open and accepting of people’s choices, we are always going to see influences of menswear in women’s fashion and feminine accents in men’s clothing, be it in the fabric or embellishment or what have you,” said Trish Kuehnl, a Mount Mary University fashion professor.

The androgynous fashion trend continues to evolve as society changes.

“It’s continually changing,” Gaston said. “I think it’s because of the changing roles of men and women. It’s becoming more acceptable for women to become businesswomen and men to become stay-at-home dads. The culture has changed, so clothes have to change to reflect that.”

photo by KATRINA VRAKAS

photo by KATRINA VRAKAS

Even major department stores are carrying androgynous fashions.

Today the interest in the androgynous style is motivated by self-expression and entertainment.

“I think it’s a fun and interesting way for each of the genders to express themselves even more through their clothing because there are no rules,” Kuehnl said.

Bending gender norms when dressing is unexpected, which could be what makes the trend so interesting. Women no longer need to be suffocated by too-tight and super scandalous fashions that were once a hit.

What is sexy for women to wear is now being transformed into styles like suit coats, crisp white button downs, loose baggy jeans, clunky combat boots and manly trousers.

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