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History of the Trend: Androgyny


Elle Suit Collage Fall RunwayDesigners interpret androgyny | Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

When it comes to daily dressing, we all have our wardrobe essentials that we swear by, whether they include a floral dress, a great pair of jeans, or your grandmother’s bracelet. Every now and then, though, it’s fun to mix and match some of our favorites with some new twists to change things up a bit.

That’s why I love the androgynous look for fall. Mixing masculine pieces with feminine flair, it’s a great look to try if you’re looking for something a little different. Because this trend has so many elements, this week’s History of the Trend post will be a little different – I’ve rounded up some interesting facts on particular items of the androgynous look to give a broad overview. See below to learn about the integral parts of this diverse trend.

Elements of the Androgyny Trend and their History

Orchid Grey- Androgynous Accents
Julie of Orchid Grey elevates her look with androgynous accents

  • The tuxedo or dinner jacket took its name from the exclusive Tuxedo Club which opened in 1886. While tuxedo jackets were originally designed for the high-society men who frequented these clubs, Yves Saint Laurent designed his first dinner jacket for women 80 years later, in 1966.
  • Wingtips and the closely related oxford (which both fall under the category of “brogues“) are two shoe styles that really complement this look well. Wingtips take their name from the detailed stitching that appears around the toe, making a “W” shape. For a long time the only difference in wingtips for men and women was the physical size of the shoe, but new colors and materials (and heels!) have now distinguished the two styles.
  • Suspenders started being manufactured in their modern form in the 1820s. “Original designs show suspender straps made of a tightly woven wool (known as ‘boxcloth’) and attaching as an ‘H-back,’ meaning they join together to make what looks like an uppercase H.” This style evolved into the “X-back” as well as the “Y-back,” all three of which are available today. For a laugh, check out this article from People circa 1986, showing teens the “hippest” way to wear their suspenders!
  • An excellent finishing piece for an outfit inspired by this trend is a tie. The necktie has roots all the way back to the 17th century, when King Louis XIV of France took a liking to the bow-tie sort of embellishments Croatian soldiers wore. The tie became mainstream around the time of the Industrial Revolution, thanks to ease of production, and by the 1950s it was said that a man was not dressed if he was without his tie. If you’d like to try one yourself, is a great resource to learn how to tie your tie in a myriad of ways.
  • In modern fashion, each of these elements has been adapted and altered for a woman’s body. Blazers are more tailored at the waist, ties are made in a myriad of sizes and with whimsical patterns, and tuxedo shirts are nipped in and sometimes feature ruffles and flowy sleeves to better complement the women wearing them.

Why We Still Love This Trend

Androgyny Goes to School
A smart red blazer and bow tie make this street style look pop | Photo Credit

While this entire look may not be for everyone, there are definite aspects of the androgynous trend that can work for multiple style personalities. Here are some reasons to give it a shot:

  • It’s eclectic. This trend doesn’t have to take over your entire outfit. Consider it a way to add a bit of visual interest to your look while keeping your core outfit the same. Adding a hint of androgyny could be as simple as swapping out your sneakers for a pair of wingtip-style shoes, or wearing some colorful suspenders with your jeans and t-shirt instead of a belt.
  • It’s unexpected. The juxtaposition that’s achieved from working masculine pieces into a feminine wardrobe is really intriguing, and something that designers continue to be inspired by. Even though we all know that adding a blazer to a dress will give the whole outfit more presence, it’s something that we may not think of unless we see it on someone else first. Trust your instincts and know that these small additions will give you a broader wardrobe from which you can create new looks with less effort.
  • It’s powerful. This is is the sort of trend that makes you feel like you can take over the world – in a sophisticated, fashion-forward way. Take a cue from Annie Hall and see if trying out a few of these items doesn’t make you feel confident, strong, and fierce!

Your Turn!

What do you think of the androgynous look? Do you have a favorite element? How do you incorporate this trend into your personal wardrobe? Any other trends you’d like us to explore here? Leave a comment!

Posted on on September 24, 2011 / Filed Under: Trends / Tags: , , , ,

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23 Responses to “History of the Trend: Androgyny”

  1. 1
    September 24th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I really like this look because it’s conservative and modest and also stylish.

  2. 2
    September 24th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Really interesting article Rachel! I love the androgynous look, and always try to include some piece of menswear in my wardrobe- but I never thought about where it originated from. I love how you said it’s powerful- you’re totally right.

  3. 3
    September 24th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks ladies, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  4. 4
    September 24th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Yes, I love androgenic looks. I think there’s something very cheeky and adorable about a girl wearing men’s clothing.

    Driftwood and Daydreams

  5. 5
    September 24th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    If you’re comfortable with them, hats – like a Fedora or Newsboy Cap – are another way to shake up an outfit. Interesting post, as always!

  6. 6
    September 24th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Very informative. Jackets, especially blazers, are great outfit enhancers. The red blazer in the last photos is definitely luscious.

  7. 7
    September 24th, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Pretty much my favorite trend, and this taught me a lot about it I didn’t know. And I might need to get a red blazer now.

  8. 8
    September 24th, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I love the androgynous look! Thanks for the post!

  9. 9
    September 24th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    This reminds me so much of Dr who current doctor style …I would love to see a fashion inspiration series about the show on here one day

  10. 10
    September 24th, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Personally, the androgynous look doesn’t work for me most of the time, but if I find a piece that does work, I’m so in. I love wearing my oxfords; they’re my go-to shoe. I love the look and usually the clothes are really comfortable. Great post!

  11. 11
    September 24th, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    It would be nice if you guys could provide links to sites with pieces that fit in this category…

  12. 12
    September 25th, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I love elements of this style! I’m definitely a fan of blazers, oversized watches, and bow ties. Personally I wouldn’t go for an all over androgynous look but I love mixing more masculine pieces with my girlier items, and I really like those two street style looks.

    I’m really loving these “history of the trend” posts – I think it’s fascinating to see where the looks we love so much today originally came from! (I am a history major, so I suppose this fits). Thanks CF!

  13. 13
    September 25th, 2011 at 3:02 am

    I love this style and androgynous look.

  14. 14
    September 25th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I agree with Abbie! It would be cool to have some Doctor Who inspired outfit! I loved this article.

  15. 15
    September 25th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Ooh I agree a doctor who fashion post would be great!

  16. 16
    September 25th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Kelly- Sorry I didn’t include any outfit links this time around! If this is a look you’re interested in trying, I suggest searching some of your favorite stores for menswear-inspired items. I know Modcloth has some great oxfords right now, and Forever 21 has some cute (and affordable) blazer options- J. Crew and Gap have them as well, but they’re a bit more expensive.

    Abbie, Alex, and Aali – Thanks for your comments! I’m glad you liked the post and I have passed your comments along to a writer who has done movie-inspired posts recently. Maybe she’ll consider Dr. Who as well!

  17. 17
    September 26th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    what i love most is the bow tie and brogues!can’t get enough!

  18. 18
    September 29th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I love wearing mixing slightly masculine clothing with really pretty jewelry and painted nails. It’s such a fun contrast!

  19. 19
    October 13th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I like this style! I’m definitely a fan of blazers.

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