For decades, the fashion industry has talked about clothing and accessories in gendered terms, like “menswear” and “women’s fashion.” But gender-bending and androgyny have been around for a long time. Think of the queens of Egypt, Joan of Arc, George Eliot, and all the women who dressed as men so they could fight in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Gender fluidity gained prominence on red carpets at awards shows (Billy Porter’s colorful tuxedos with huge skirts attached, or Tilda Swinton’s elegant suits). But gender-fluid dressing isn’t just for celebrities: it has gone mainstream. It’s less unusual to see a young man in a skirt and commonplace to see a woman in a suit with trousers and a waistcoat. Androgynous dressing is comfortable, easy to attain, and, for many, a better mode of self-expression through clothing. Learn ways to create a gender-fluid wardrobe.
Keep Classics in Your Closet
A great navy blazer, a leather bomber jacket, a pair of grey flannel or black trousers, and several pairs of jeans belong in your closet. Ditto for a crisp, white button-down shirt. These standard wardrobe essentials can form the base, or “capsule wardrobe,” for dozens of outfits.
Wear Disruptive Colors
Men look great in pink. Who says you can’t dress the way you want in colors you love because of your sex? When you’re building your gender-fluid wardrobe, most of your pieces will be in neutrals, with no obvious gender assignment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add a screaming yellow tie or wear a pink suit like Seth Rogan wore to the Golden Globes.
Flannel and Plaid
Shirts, skirts, skorts, or kilts—everything’s more comfortable in flannel. Plaids aren’t just for school kids anymore and never really were. A flannel shirt over a graphic tee or a classic plaid kilt paired with that crisp white button-down make great outfits for everyday wear or meetups with friends.
Accessorize Like a Person
People who identify as female can wear cufflinks and antique watches slung across a vest. Cisgender males have been wearing rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets for years. There’s no such thing as a gendered accessory. And everyone wears punky black boots from time to time. Choose hats, brooches, scarves, ties, and sunglasses that make you feel confident, attractive, stylish, and comfortable.
A gender-fluid wardrobe is made up of clothing you like, no matter why you like it. Voluminous or sleek, trousers or skirts, T-shirts or Oxford cloth, whatever works for you works.
Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.