There are plenty of reasons why somebody may want to start wearing more gender neutral or androgynous apparel and accessories. Whether somebody is paying homage to the icons who came before us, is exploring the world of modest fashion, is playing with their gender presentation, or is just into the aesthetic, the world of androgynous apparel is finally becoming more mainstream in the past few years.
However, much less progress has been made with jewelry and other accessories. This, unfortunately, cuts off opportunities for both AFAB and AMAB people; those who may want to present more feminine have an overwhelming number of options but few that aren't either hyperfeminine or minimalistic, and those who want to present more masculine are met only with a sea of brown, grey, and black watches. While all of these things can be chic as hell, they don't exactly scream "I'm here, I'm genderqueer, and I'm living with no fear (except for heights)."
However, it isn't impossible. I'm here to guide people through the few progressive levels for people who would love to add some genderfluid accessories to their wardrobe.
Level 1: A New Direction
This level comes first specifically because it's the least risky. Depending on where you live, you may or may not need to take safety into consideration. Besides, there's nothing wrong with dipping your toes into the water before you jump right in.
In this level, you can stick with the kind of accessories you're used to wearing, but pick items that give off a slightly more femme vibe for masculine accessories, or a more butch vibe for feminine accessories.
Where to get started?
- If you're looking to femme up your masculine accessories, you can start with a floral pattern. Grab some floral ties, a floral watch strap, or a wallet in a louder pattern. Investing in shoes that aren't navy, brown, black or white is also a great way to start taking measured risks with your wardrobe. Any patterned shoe will stand out just enough, and get you used to what that feels like.
- If you're looking to masc up your feminine accessories, you can go for a thicker, minimalist aesthetic. A thick, flat (not domed) bangle is a modern, more masc take on a classic bangle. Black faux leather is a great place to start, and, as a bonus? It does go with basically everything. Finally, this could be an opportunity to grab more masculine boots and sneakers. You would be surprised how far this goes in transforming the mood of your outfit.
Level 2: genderf*ck
When you're ready to get a little more explicit with it, there is immense fun to be had in choosing items that specifically combine elements we define as "masculine" and "feminine" to celebrate ourselves and, if we're lucky, make the world second-guess their assumptions. After all, who among us has not gasped out loud in reverent awe at the sight of a woman in a floral suit, or wiped away an inspired tear at a man in a leather skirt? Is this just me?
Definitely not. This aesthetic has been around for a very long time, including the work of such fashion pioneers as the punk scene, the glam rock scene, black metal aesthetics, hip hop artists, etc. It's almost as if there's something about artists who exist in marginalized areas of socio-economic hierarchies that make them step outside of socially-constructed identities...hmm!
As an agender but extra af person, this is the level where I aspire to live at all times, until I achieve my gender expression of Glitter Dwarf. Here are some concepts that inspire me in this journey.
Where to get started?The nice thing here is that there is no division into two categories. Everything in here is a collection of both masc and femme. Here are accessories I've witnesses, purchased, or loved that fit this aesthetic:
- Pocket watch chain made of pearls
- Sequin-covered bow ties
- Pearl necklaces with black spikes
- Stiletto work boots
- Thin suspenders with rhinestones
The options are endless and, if I may, they're all deeply inspiring.
Level 3: Do Whatever You Want
At this point, you should have found enough pieces and tried enough things that you know what you like, and what you don't. You're well on your way to achieving your personal style, but more importantly? You're on your way to feeling more free to be happy, confident, and comfortable with your presentation.
After all, the whole point of this exercise is to find pieces that make you feel like you're being the most truthful to you. Part of the fun of exploring gender presentation is breaking free of boundaries that don't make sense for you. So at this point? Just have fun with it. Mix and match whatever makes you happy. You're in control, and you're wonderful.
ADD SOME FEMME TO THAT MASC
Instead of showing more pieces, I want to highlight some people who are living their best life and wearing whatever they want.
Photo: Getty Images / Jun Sato
This rapper has long been one of my favorite style icons to watch. He's somebody who will not only wear a Babushka-inspired look at a red carpet event, he turned the attention this received into a whole song. King behavior.
He put it best in a British Vogue interview:
I do things that really are appropriate for women: grandma babushkas, painting your nails. I do what the fuck I want. It's just like hey, you know? There are no boundaries.
As I said: King behavior.
ADD SOME MASC TO THAT FEMME
Source: Instagram @siviazizah
Can we all afford the insanely good drip Sivia rocks, with the custom Nikes and the Supreme fanny packs? Of course not. But we can definitely take inspiration from her style. Modest fashion is a great source for androgynous inspiration, and this Malaysian actress and singer does a fantastic job at adding a tomboy twist Western audiences don't expect from hijabis. Outfits like this show that the accessories really don't need to do much except elevate an outfit to the next level, and these choices do that fantastically.
You can visit her Instagram for some amazing inspiration, and then go stream her music on Spotify.
Runners-up: Harry Styles, Kristen Stewart, Young Thug, Tilda Swinton, Jaden Smith, Samira Wiley, Justice Smith, Jamie Windust, Alok Menom. Remind me to come back to this concept and write about how black masc people are the real trendsetters forever, despite the homophobia this tends to stir up.
Bonus Round: Cash in your coins right here
If you want to get your wardrobe started, I have some items available for purchase right here. My goal is to keep prices low so that we can all afford more items to fit our various gender expression emotions. I hope you find something in here or in the rest of the store that appeals to you and makes you feel confident.