During the springtime, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of pretty floral dresses and bright girly colors. This color explosion is a welcome departure from the drab of winter, but that ruffled pink mini-dress seems a little been there, done that. That’s when androgyny comes into the picture. A cooler alternative to girly looks, androgynous fashion offers a stylish and unique statement with a strong and independent edge.
Androgyny, of course, has had many appearances in the past century, and is almost always closely associated with movements towards sexual egalitarianism. Our flapper friends started it out right with adorable bobs and drop-waist dresses in the 1920s. Around World War II, women became more involved in the work force, and their fashions (high-waisted pants, button-down shirts and Rosie the Riveter-style bandannas) followed. In the ’60s, when their hippie boyfriends were growing out their hair, girls had the option to chop it all off and opt for mod, boyish shapes, ? la Twiggy. By the time that David Bowie, Annie Lennox and Prince rolled around, it had been well-established that fashion knew no gender, and pop stars were free to bend conventions.
Now you can join these strong characters on the androgyny bandwagon and look damn hip doing it.
Let’s start with the staples. Whether paired with skinny cords, or loose, high-waisted trousers, the button-down shirt is an essential. This versatile top comes in classic, long-sleeved shapes or sleeveless for summer. It can be spiced up with sheer fabrics (which adds a little sexiness to the boyish charm), fun patterns like stripes or long vs. cropped fits. For an extra androgynous touch, button your shirt all the way to the topmost button and finish off the look with a bolo tie or brooch secured around the collar. For cooler nights, top the ensemble off with a fitted pullover (letting your collar peak through for an ironically preppy look) or a rebellious leather jacket.
There are plenty of androgynous options for your bottom half. Your classic skinny jeans and jeggings in dark colors look cool, simple and crisp with a button down and wingtips. For a more stylized look, tuck your shirt into a pair of high-waisted chinos, creating a beautifully breezy outfit. And for the days that you just want to show off your legs (that yoga wasn’t for nothing!), messy, high-waisted denim cut offs are an unexpectedly perfect partner for crisp, boyish blouses.
Let’s be honest; the thing we’re most excited to steal from the boys is their shoes. Oh, those shoes. Most of us have already fallen for wing tip oxfords and their little brothers, the saddle shoe. These stompers look great with everything, from short-shift dresses to jeans, to shorts and T-shirts. Pairing them with socks gives them a new, coquettish vibe that calls attention to the legs. Worn either completely flat or with a low, chunky heel, these shoes are the centerpiece of modern androgyny.
Although they’re still unbelievably chic, last year’s lace-up boots (a hybrid of lady boots and combat boots) have been replaced by Chelsea boots. Originally used in horseback riding, these tight fitting ankle boots became popular among the most stylish members of the ’60’s mod scene. Paired with skinny pants, they give a Dylan-esque look, while with bare legs they are sexy, cool and sleek.
Let your hair speak to your style by making it edgy. If you have long, girlish hair that you just can’t part with, accessories are your friends. Transform your feminine locks by throwing them into a messy ponytail or bun and tying a bandana around your head. When you do wear your hair down, don’t fuss with hairspray and curling irons, and imitate the boys with an “I didn’t look in the mirror this morning” look. Despite the constant pressure for women to look perfect, flyaway curls and apathetic imperfections simply look cool.
For the daring ladies willing to commit to an androgynous hairstyle, a new crop of cuts has been popping up. Medium length hair gets an Alexa Chung-style makeover with a tousled bob, shaggy bangs and dip-dyed color. This style calls for tips dyed slightly lighter than the rest of the head, with hair reaching in between the chin and the shoulders. Worn messy with bangs just slightly parted, this hairdo screams tomboy.
However, short hair inevitably beats all when androgyny is the goal. While a classic pixie cut is always a timeless option, a messy bowl cut adds a trendy twist. With even layers and long, straight-across bangs, this hairstyle is not for the meek. Stylistically, it is the love child of an awkward 8-year-old boy’s do and a sexy Parisian woman’s styled cut, and its most important element is confidence.
Lastly, when imitating the bad boys, we cannot forget an integral accessory: hip sunglasses. Top off your androgynous look with a pair of dark, circular glasses or club masters. Even among spring’s prettiest flowers, you’ll be the center of attention.
Maggie Schafer is an English/Creative Writing and Sociology major. Let her know your opinions on the latest trends at firstname.lastname@example.org.