Androgyny: The Essence of Fashion

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At its core, fashion can be expressive, but mute. Bold, but soft. It can be that all at once. History has shown that fashion responds to cultural and social phenomena. It closely intertwines with social norms.

Enter androgyny. While to some it might appear as a new stylistic turn, it has always been a special part of fashion. It may be shadowed by the mainstream, but it prevails as it has for years. The mainstream sense of fashion has created gender divisions that alter garments on the basis of sex. It’s very black and white, especially considering how grey fashion and its development are. The evolution of fashion starts with experimentation.

Androgynous fashion has no gender-related connotation. In this era, that may feel like a foreign concept. However, it isn’t! Remember a time in your life where clothing was just clothing, be it a skirt, shirt or sneakers.

A combination of masculine, feminine and non-binary stylistic elements make up androgynous fashion, and ever since clothing became more than a means of protecting the body from environmental factors, androgynous fashion was born with it.

There have been periods of time throughout history where there was little distinction between garments. Now, androgyny is making its way full circle with its new artistic inventions.

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On the Runway

Paris Fashion Week was notorious this year for showcasing androgynous fashion. Tons of high fashion brands took that approach, including Valentino, Vivienne Westwood, Balenciaga and Ninamounah.

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Hypebeast notes, “Traditional formal menswear archetypes have collided with feminine motifs such as sleeve cuts, black slits, and cinched waists, creating an all-around androgynous aesthetic.”

This is not the first time, or the last, that runways will depict androgynous pieces. It has been a thematic repetition throughout the years. Runway fashion is inventive and eclectic, in a sense, and it can be important as a lot of styles on the runway will be entered into mainstream fashion.

Off The Runway

In a time of ever-changing clothing aesthetics, there has been a shift within the younger generation exploring beyond gendered fashion.

Look at the early decade of the 2000s, where fashion was restricted by gender identities of hyper femininity and masculinity. It was dominated by a culture of excessiveness and an intense expression of gender-related traits.

Ashley Tisdale says it all here:

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At this time, androgynous styles were looked down upon. However, they rose to popularity in the 2010s. Fashion moves in grooves, but with the acceptance of new identities, there is hope that androgynous fashion is here to stay.

“When we’re looking at trends that we might see in the community of youth who are identifying as nonbinary, what we really are seeing is a community of people who are just accepting the diversity of gender expression,” says Jeremy Wernick, a NYU clinical assistant professor in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Fashion is the key to that expression. There is a still a long way before androgynous fashion stops being seen as revolutionary. It’s not a revolution to express yourself with whatever medium is available. Luckily for us, there are so many means and inspirations available. Fellow celebrities, for all the harm they do, have brought some pretty stellar androgynous inspirations.

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Emma D’arcy has captured the media’s attention, and who can deny them that privilege? After playing Rhaenyra Targaryen in “House of the Dragon”, D’arcy has quickly become a recognizable fashion icon. Simply scroll on TikTokto see Emma D’arcy in all of their grace.

Other mainstream celebrities like Billie Eilish, Timothée Chalamet and Frank Ocean have been appreciated for their looks that embrace androgynous elements. They didn’t do so without backlash, but it has inspired many other people to embrace a new sense of style as well, and that’s the most important part.

No matter what you do with your style, let it be what you want. If androgynous fashion says anything, it says there are no limits to what expression can be. It might be the most comforting thing to hear when it comes to fashion.

Tweet @VALLEYMag what you think about androgynous fashion!


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