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16th November 2011

Comme des Garçonnes: A Man’s take on Androgynous Dressing

Androgynous style is certainly not limited to the female contingent!

As I devoured this quarter’s GQ style, I noticed that a there was a particular concentration on the question of ‘What constitutes Masculinity?’ To correspond with their chosen concept for the issue, it is by no means surprising that the GQ editors had Robert Downey Jr. (the cover star) smoking cigars, dressed in a selection of cowboy hats and wearing a double denim ensemble (something that I believe to be the visual equivalent of nails scratching on a chalk board). The letter from the editor discussed how the archetypal image of ‘The Man’ has become completely diminished in the 21st century, which I am completely opposed to. Like many other ideas from bygone years, things change. ‘The Man’ is no longer that being who does not discuss emotion, who fishes, protects and hunts on a daily basis.

It is thus, that the theme for this week is androgyny. Loosely known otherwise, as unisex fashion, androgynous fashion is something that has been around for decades. The first noticeable emergence was in the 1920s when Coco Chanel débuted a relatively masculine women’s suit ensemble that consisted of a knee-high skirt with a squared-fit woolen jacket. Androgyny is not simply a matter of girls wearing boys’ clothes and visa versa; it is far more complex in that it is both feminine and masculine traits blended into coexistence, so as to create a look with no specific gender identification. The most common ‘androgynous look’ for a man, is largely very tailored and consists of military-inspired attire, waistcoats and tighter jeans, mainly using fabrics such as velvet, tweed and leather – all of which is exhibited brilliantly every season by brands such as Burberry Prorsum, Lanvin and Helmut Lang. Androgyny is very much present in the industry, and what enamours me even more, is the fact that it is hardly noticeable because skinny jeans and military jackets are not exactly the most uncommon of things you’ll find either in the shops or being worn in the streets. I too, have dabbled in the world of androgynous fashion in that the last bag I purchased was the Oversized Alexa by Mulberry, which was originally created as part of their womenswear collection. I only bought the bag because I find their menswear collection to be terribly dull and I frequently find myself unimpressed by other menswear bag collections in general. The Alexa is just a large, classic satchel and I can’t quite fathom why just because it is categorised as a womens’ bag, it should stop me from wearing one. It is thus that I have entitled this article Comme des Garçonnes with “Garçonne” meaning “boy” in French, spelt however, with the feminine suffix.

Androgynous fashion allows people to experiment with their style because it has merged numerous traits of menswear and womenswear, meaning that fashion is not secluded to gender. I am not saying that men will soon be wearing pink mini-skirts, but then again, nothing is out of the realm of possibility.



Jake Pummintr

Jake Pummintr

Second year student of English Literature and Spanish at the University of Manchester. One of two Fashion Editors of The Mancunion this academic year.

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