Myth: The trend of Androgynous
is just about throwing on anything from the men.
Truth: The trend of Androgynous can look great
only if done right.
One of the many trends that pops up a lot is “Androgynous.” It’s basically a menswear look for women. It’s been popular for a long time and it’s not going away any time soon. A lot of women use it as a way of feeling powerful. I’m not into it much because I’m too much of a girlie girl but it’s a trend that can work well for everyone when done right. However, it’s easy to get this one wrong.
From me, you get the truth.
The reason that Androgynous style works for everyone is that it features very sharp, structured menswear pieces. It’s not about jeans with a t-shirt and/or flannel shirt. It’s about jackets, button-down shirts, vests, and structured bottoms. In the secular world, many women wear trousers for this look but in our world, skirts are the only way to go. These kinds of structured pieces are great on every body type because they add structure and give a great shape. If the woman has an hourglass shape, the contrast between the structured menswear and the feminine silhouette looks wonderful. If the woman is plus-size, the structured fabrics can give her a great shape. A necktie can go wrong (it doesn’t flatter me) but most other pieces can look great.
This look can go wrong in a few ways though. First is that there might be dress-code issues. Second, there’s the issue of beged ish: We women are not supposed to look like men. Third is that Androgynous can easily cross the fine line into drag costume and that never looks right.
The good news is that there are a few ways to address each of these issues. The first, and probably most important, is to make sure that there’s a feminine item in the base outfit. A straight or slightly A-line skirt in a structured fabric, anywhere past the knees, solves all the issues. It’s b’Tzniut. It keeps the overall look feminine, thus avoiding beged ish. And by keeping the overall look feminine, it keeps the look Androgynous and avoids the look of a drag costume.
(Note: if the skirt is wider than a very slight A-line, the look will go from Androgynous to “feminine with structured touches.” That’s not a bad thing but let’s just be honest and call it what it is.)
The second rule is to keep everything very fitted. One TV personality once said that the menswear look only works if it fits the woman to within an inch of her life. Since we’re dealing with structured fabrics here, a snug fit won’t show every bump and bulge, so it’s safe. And that fit is important for a feminine look.
To really keep the Androgynous look going, it’s best to avoid color in the base outfit and stick with black and white. A color anywhere in the base outfit will dilute the look. That’s fine if you want a more feminine look with a structured touch (as I’m doing in my green button-down) but it’s just not Androgynous. Androgynous is a great dramatic look and it tends to work best when it’s not diluted too much.
For shoes, stick with higher-vamped styles like loafers. If your skirt is JBTK (just below the knee), a 1 ½ inch heel is best. If your skirt is longer, like mine, it’s okay to wear flats, but try to get ½ inch of lift- it’s better for the look and for your feet.
Accessories can go either way. Feminine jewelry like chandelier earrings and colorful necklaces can definitely work with this look but so can more masculine style jewelry. Masculine-style jewelry is usually made with either larger metal bases or with thicker cords and larger beads. I don’t recommend colorful scarves with this look- it softens things up a little too much.
Warning- even feminine jewelry and scarves do not make up for any lack of femininity in the base outfit. If your base outfit is just masculine from top to bottom, it veers into drag costume and that’s not a good look.
If you wear hair, either your own or a shaytl, it really is best to keep things soft and feminine. It’s OK to wear the hair short, even in a pixie cut, but make sure there’s some length and softness. Natural curls work great here. As for non-shaytl coverings, most hats and berets will look great here. Mitpachot will add some inherent softness and so they’ll work well too. Snoods and pre-tieds are absolute no-nos here. Not only are they not flattering, but they’re too soft and will kill the Androgynous look.
It’s best to be aware of trends and to use them only to your advantage. The Androgynous look can work very well if you do it right. Try it and see what works best for you.
P.S.: Thank you to my husband who lent me his white shirt and tie.