Androgynous fashion – girl dresses like boy – was brought to life in the early twentieth century by the legend herself, Coco Chanel. The designer’s propensity towards androgynous style is aptly summed up in the biopic Coco Before Chanel, when her lover, Arthur Capel, teases her: “I’m not used to undressing boys”.
The realms of masculinity from which she drew her inspiration included Officer Étienne Balsan’s wardrobe, which she frequently raided, altering his suits for her own apparel. The French sailor and his Breton striped top equally inspired her and this item has become a must-have in the modern girl’s wardrobe.
Coco Chanel’s androgynous style was not merely a rejection of Victorian excessiveness, but a statement of independence. For a woman who never married, and who founded her own company, dressing like a man was a means of expressing how she could be successful without a husband.
Androgynous fashion transcended the 1920s and lives on today, less so as an expression of independence, and more for that fact that its minimalism ignites both an effortless and chic appearance. Elements of androgyny remain in Chanel’s modern day campaigns, most notably in Keira Knightley’s Coco Mademoiselle spread, as she sports the androgynous accessory of braces.
Remember you heard it here first, but braces are a big trend on the horizon; they experienced a revival in 2010 with 3.1 Phillp Lim’s autumn/winter collection embracing the feature. The most memorable androgynous moment of 2010 took place at the Met Ball, when amidst a sea of elaborate gowns, Alexa Chung opted for a Philip Lim tuxedo.
Androgynous fashion is on the rise my friends, and its fans range from Rachel Bilson to Fearne Cotton. Top model Agyness Deyn would appear to be the mascot of the tuxedo trend these days and the always-daring Leighton Meester recently graced the red carpet of the Gotham Independent Film Awards in a Thom Browne suit.
So ladies, take comfort in the fact that fashion ‘It’ girls of 2010 have embraced androgynous fashion, brush aside the scepticism and succumb to its appeal. Choose clean-cut tailoring over frills, opt for monochrome over loud colours, throw some sharp, high collars rather than low-plunging neck lines into the mix, and bada bing bada boom – girl dresses like boy, girl dresses like Coco Chanel.