What Does Androgynous Mean?
Gender roles and stereotypes have been thoroughly ingrained into almost every part of society. From style to career paths, the choices have always been split into two sections; things more suitable for women and things more suitable for men. However, the recent uprising in acceptance of varying gender and sexual identities brought a term that has now become pretty common.
We must begin with the etymology of the word androgynous. The use of this word and similar versions of it dates all the way back to the 14th century. It was first used in France and then England. The root of the word comes from Greek and Latin contexts. The earliest form of this term is ἀνδρόγυνος, an Ancient Greek word. If we break up androgynous into two root components, we get andro and gyne. “Andro” has been used to refer to men and masculine features while “gyne” indicates women or feminine features.
Androgyny is a concept that combines the traditional aspects of men and the traditional features of women to create a fusion between the two. Androgyny may be used in various contexts such as identity, style, and more. It may include qualities of either both ends of the gender spectrum or neither.
What Is an Androgynous Person?
An androgynous person may fall into one of these two categories, that is, someone who identifies with both male and female genders or with neither male nor female genders. In the new age of gender study, there is no longer a strict and exclusive gender binary. Society has progressed and developed so much over the past few decades and so have gender norms. Let us briefly describe gender and how it is different from the sex of a person.
Sex is based on the genitalia that one is born with. When a baby comes into this world, he can only be assigned sex and not gender. Gender identity is completely based on social standards and attributes. One’s gender identity may differ from their sex assigned at birth. Such individuals are known as transgender.
Secondly, we can address gender fluidity. This is when a person does not feel like a woman or a man. Their gender identity lies somewhere along the spectrum. The terms nonbinary and genderqueer are also used interchangeably with this identity.
Thirdly, intersex people are those individuals who are born with a set of genitalia that is atypical, for example, both or neither male nor female parts. Anyone from the above-mentioned identities may refer to themselves as androgynous.
Origins of Androgynous Fashion
Androgyny, although it may seem otherwise, is not a new concept. It has had many different labels across the years but it has for the most part been around for centuries. Androgyny in terms of fashion started with women. Women were traditionally supposed to wear big dresses, skirts, and corsets etc. whereas suits, trousers, ties, and blazers were reserved for men. As men were the only ones with jobs and women were required to stay home, a woman in trousers was an absolutely baffling idea. Androgyny challenges this rigidity in terms of clothing. As the suffragette movement began and women started to want more practical and comfortable clothing, they started to wear trousers. This was revolutionary at the time. One such lady was Luisa Capetillo, who worked for human emancipation and women’s rights in Puerto Rico from the late 1890s to the early 1920s. She was the first woman to wear men’s pants and a tie in public!
Elisabeth Smith Miller was among the first designer to introduce pants for women. The style was called “the bloomer”, and it picked up when the designer showed it to her relative, a leader of women’s rights movements. In fashion succeeding World War 1, Coco Chanel abandoned the norm and designed androgynous clothing for women. This “flapper style” was worn by a big celebrity of the time, Marlene Dietrich around 1930.
The music industry also has a lot to offer in terms of breaking styling stereotypes. Elvis Presley was one of the early male icons to wear eye makeup, a conventionally feminine accessory. In the year 1969, Mick Jagger from the infamous band Rolling Stones was a pioneer in androgynous fashion as he wore a dress to one of his concerts. David Bowie is yet another musician we can’t ignore when it comes to androgyny.
Top 10 Androgynous Clothing Brands
Here are my 10 favorite androgynous clothing brands you should check out!
- Big Bud Press
- Too Good
- One DNA
- Riley Studio
- Black Crane
- Eckhaus Latta
Based in the United States, this brand defines itself as “tomboy chic”. Their line includes apparel for women that rejects societal femininity standards and provides clothing to badass women. It was founded in 2011 by Emma Mcilroy, Taralyn Thuot and Julia Parsley. These three women did a wonderful job creating unorthodox clothing for women.
- WILDFANG | Home for badass women
F*cking with gender stereotypes since 2013. Because a woman should wear whatever the hell she wants.
Although a bit on the pricy side, Olderbrother is an all-gender inclusive brand. It is known for using natural dyes and organic fabrics. What makes this brand stand out is their care for the environment and concern regarding the fast fashion industry. Their pieces are ethically made, vegan and cruelty free.
Olderbrother is a playful, eco-sustainable, naturally dyed, gender-neutral contemporary collection from Portland for the slow fashion revolution.
A self-taught designer named Telfar Clemens felt the need for gender-neutral apparel and so this brand came into existence. All of the pieces and products that they sell are meant for people regardless of where their identity lies on the gender spectrum. Their motto is “not for you, for everyone.”
- Shop Telfar
Telfar is the eponymous menswear line of fashion prodigy and international celebrity Telfar Clemens. For Collections, Stockists, Videos and more information.
4. Big Bud Press
If you are someone who loves bright and vibrant colors when it comes to your outfits, this is the brand for you. Big Bud Press deviates from the usual neutral tones associated with androgynous clothing and provides a wide range of radiant hues. Their line is also size inclusive and provides clothing for plus-size androgynous individuals.
5. Too Good
A brand started by the collaboration of two stylish sisters, Erica and Faye, has provided fashionable clothing for every gender identity. They mostly deal with outerwear in their products but "embrace individuality” according to the sisters. They are based in London and have a very practical line for everyday wear.
- Welcome to Toogood
Toogood is a contemporary British brand creating clothing, furniture and objects.
Looking for gender non-conforming undergarments? Well, look no further because Tomboyx has got what you need. They are affordable and provide a range of bras, underwear and even swimsuits. The brand is targeted toward nonbinary individuals but anyone can wear their pieces. Another reason to consider this Seattle based enterprise is that the undergarments are sustainably made!
- TomboyX | We Fit You
TomboyX is high quality apparel made for comfort and confidence with sizes from XS - 6X. We fit you. Browse our collections of bras, underwear, loungewear, pajamas and swim; made by tomboys for tomboys everywhere.
7. One DNA
One DNA is a clothing line whose primary objective is to provide clothing for everyone. If you decide to purchase something from them, you won’t have to worry about size, gender, age or any other restrictions that other fast fashion brands put on you. As their name suggests inclusivity is their number one goal when it comes to their clothing line. The brand started from the big and bustling city of New York.
- One DNA — Gender-Neutral Goods
Shop the Women Are Powerful and Yesterday Today Tomorrow collections for a good cause, plus a range of clothing, accessories, and other goods.
8. Riley Studio
For my people who love to hit the gym, there is good news for you. Riley Studio is an active wear brand that accessories and gym wear for gender fluid and non-binary folks. And best of all they use recycled material. We love a brand who's conscious of the environment and breaks gender norms!
- Riley Studio | Sustainable Clothing | Ethical Fashion
Through carefully considered design, Riley Studio focus on creating products that are made from waste materials and natural fabrics producing Sustainable Clothing and Ethical Fashion.
9. Black Crane
Some days we just value comfort in our outfit more than anything else. But with Black Crane you won’t have to resort to the poor choice of sweatpants. Stay comfy yet chic with Black crane’s genderless apparel. It is labeled as clothing for women but the clothes themselves are very much for everyone. You can stay comfy while still not looking like a total mess.
- Black Crane
Black Crane, by Alexander Yamaguchi and Momoko Suzuki, focuses on a silhouette that complements supple lines and comfort.
10. Eckhaus Latta
The name of this brand may be a bit hard to approach but the brand in itself is the complete opposite! They want to make people from all parts of society feel included and cared for. They are strongly against any kind of marketing strategy that “makes people feel small”. You can find fabulous gender non-conforming attire at Eckhaus Latta.
- ECKHAUS LATTA
Eckhaus Latta SS20 Delivery One Now Available. Free Domestic Shipping on Orders over $250. Shop Now.
In the coming times, we can foresee gender and fashion’s conventional standards completely shattered. As with every decade, this decade will also bring new trends and let go of some older ones. The fashion industry is gradually but surely progressing into a new and inclusive era. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres, Jaden Smith, Harry Styles, and Ruby Rose are some of the new age icons that embrace androgynous styles of clothing. And boy do they look fabulous while doing it! It is time to shed the rigid concepts around fashion and gender once and for all. Androgynous fashion encompasses something for everyone! So, what are you waiting for? Go get some dashing new outfits from an androgynous brand of your choice.
© 2021 Muriel B Tewes