The androgynous appeal

Taylor Borde

This season, designers are blurring the lines between menswear and womenswear. From Gucci and Saint Laurent to J.Crew and Selfridges, androgynous apparel, more commonly known as gender-neutral apparel, is making a lasting impression. It’s becoming a regular off the runways as well, making its way into our very own closets.

Women are no strangers to borrowing men’s clothes. Coco Chanel liberated women from the typical feminine silhouette by wearing men’s trousers and jackets in the 1920s. Today, women continue to take comfort in men’s oversized flannels and blazers, and even their boyfriend’s slouchy jeans. Many women prefer men’s bulky watches to the dainty watches historically donned by women. Oversized sweaters stolen from our dad’s closets have become a winter staple paired with leggings for a lazy day on campus.

Although women are more accustomed to the unisex trend, men are taking cues from womenswear as well. Skinny jeans are a classic example of the adaptive style, made popular due to rock ‘n’ roll bands in the 1950s and punk rock groups in the 1990s. Floral is fundamental for spring wardrobes, popular in atypical “masculine” hues such as bright reds, pinks and light greens for this season. Light floral prints are also becoming a gender-neutral phenomenon as seen on the runways of Gucci and Prada. Rap superstar Kanye West was early on this fashion, sporting an embroidered floral blouse from womenswear designer Céline last year at Coachella. This trend is exploding on college campuses in the form of buttoned oxford shirts for a laid-back preppy style.

In light of the minimalistic trend, retailers have simplified male and female attire alike. Neutral color palletes and loose-fitted silhouettes dominate the market. Fashion sweatpants, or joggers, provide the same comfort and flexibility of traditional baggy sweatpants but with a more flattering appeal for both genders. Baggy t-shirts are mutual basics found anywhere from J.Crew and American Apparel, to Brandy Melville. Women’s T-shirt dresses are popular among hip-hop and rap celebrities — think Drake and Kid Cudi — for their soft and stretchy material, and worn as long T-shirts for everyday luxury. Outerwear is another blossoming trend in androgynous apparel. Biker jackets, military jackets, double-breasted overcoats — you name it and it’s available in the same style for him and her. Outerwear is easily exchangeable between genders due to the loose structure of most coats and jackets.

Footwear is also making advances in unisex fashion. Slip-on shoes are making a comeback with classic Birkenstocks in new textiles like patent leather and lively spring shades for easy on-the-go travel. Another go-to shoe is the slip-on sneaker to achieve a minimal look. Black and white pleather versions are modern, yet simple, and can be found anywhere from Dillard’s to Target. The sneaker sensation is all the rage this spring with the revival of New Balance and the timeless Adidas tennis shoe. Both brands offer identical versions of the same style for both men and women, making it a truly gender-neutral fashion.

Designer Jonathan Anderson said unisex is a dated concept. Now it’s more about garments and less about who they were made for. T-shirts, jeans, duffel coats, biker jackets — it all means the same thing, no matter if it’s a man or woman wearing it. They are a neutral zone. Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you like it, buy it. Unisex is in, and conventional gender norms are out.