Tuesday, May 1, 2012 • 7:06 PM •
“I would rather be handsome for an hour than pretty for a week“. Those are the words of Tilda Swinton, the British actress famous for her penchant for androgynous fashion. Swinton is seemingly handsome for a lot more than an hour a week and her striking attire has me pondering on my own venture with gender-bending style.
When I first got my short haircut, I immediately loved it. It was different (for me), simple, and (relatively) easy to maintain. However, despite my fondness for my new hairstyle, I was a newbie to the ‘boy-style’ hair club. My immediate instincts misled me into overly ‘feminizing’ the rest of my look to compensate for the very short hair. I bought countless ‘girly’ headbands, replenished my makeup supply, and stuck mostly to wearing skirts and dresses. All I was missing was a huge cardboard sign held above my head reading ‘I am a girl!’.
Luckily, after getting used to my hair I grew out of that mindset (I will spare you the social gender construction manifesto) and I realized I was limiting myself immensely by sticking to just one ‘look’. So, I dusted off my pants, got rid of some floral- and admittedly unflattering- hair accessories, and embraced my cropped do to it’s fullest potential. Over a year later and it would appear i’ve done a 180 as I find myself obsessing over masculine and androgynous looks. There’s something about the balancing act between femininity and masculinity that often creates a perfect harmony.
Keeping jewelry basic and minimal, polished suits, shapeless and boxy silhouettes, key accessories like suspenders, ties, and wingtip shoes are some of the characteristics that make up an androgynous look. However, there aren’t any strict rules since androgyny implies a look that is partially male and female. So basically any look that incorporates hints of both sexes will work.
Actresses such as Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn mastered the androgynous look in the early 20th century. Both women sported this look after the fashion industry’s dramatic change in the 1920s that had women experimenting with new forms of freedom and assertion of self.
I’m still a big fan of so called ‘girly’ clothing, but when my clean laundry is running out, my dad and bro better watch out. No one’s closet is safe. 😉