When even Gucci took the androgynous look to the catwalk for Autumn/Winter 2015, the fashion press knew something was up. The plan was to create a ‘dream ambiguity’ with the collection, which spanned high neck blouses tied with silk ribbon, an olive green leather suit, and fur-lined loafers finished with the traditional Gucci horsebit fastening. The result was a breath of fresh air, and it heralded androgyny as a key trend for this season.
Wearing something masculine also firmly sets you against the ultra-girly piece that’s taken fashion magazines by storm: Miuccia Prada’s satin empire line dress, with its spaghetti straps and careful embellishments, is a current fashion editor favourite. Available in candy pink and powder blue, it’s kitsch, cutesy and, let’s face it, overpowering. In contrast, pieces inspired by menswear are striking without being contrived.
Your Autumn/Winter 2015 catwalk references can be as varied as Victoria Beckham, Margaret Howell, Paul & Joe, Topshop Unique and Giorgio Armani, all of whom gave a nod to menswear this season. Oversized coats, as championed by Beckham in either black or navy, are the easiest way to embrace a more masculine look without losing your own style identity. Howell preferred to team slim, long-line coats with equally lengthy scarves, paperbag-waisted trousers or turned-up city shorts and super shiny loafers. Paul & Joe also took up the city shorts mantle (a brave move for winter), presenting a mid-grey shorts suit teamed with a frill-trimmed white shirt and chunky black lace-up shoes. A grey boiler suit worn with a black beret, a backpack and those same chunky shoes created a surprisingly wearable look.
Menswear itself has become more of a fluid concept – at Paris Men’s Fashion Week, Hedi Slimane introduced block heels on the Saint Laurent catwalk for A/W ’15, whilst Vivienne Westwood created an entire unisex Gold Label collection, using Gwendoline Christie – best known for playing the sword-wielding Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones – as her ad campaign star. The range, including a tartan kilt and a floral print donkey jacket, definitely isn’t for wallflowers.
Aside from the catwalk, there are plenty of classic androgynous style moments you can reference, from the traditional suit of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall to the slicked back look of Robert Palmer’s backing band in the music video for Addicted To Love and the range of tomboy outfits dominating the miniseries This Is England. In more modern times, it’s impossible to forget Angelina Jolie matching, and superseding, Brad Pitt’s tuxedo style at the 2014 BAFTAs. So how can you translate a bit of Jolie-esque cool into your wardrobe?
On the high street, look for womenswear with a male influence at Zara, where wide-leg herringbone trousers and oversized blazers create a clean silhouette. Patent ankle boots work well underneath, or you can dress down with a pair of Stan Smiths by Adidas. Meanwhile, Reiss’ plum-coloured Ricca suit, with slim-leg trousers and a single-breasted jacket is a seriously stylish option for the office, as is Next’s equally slimline wool blend denim suit.
When it comes to casual outfits, ‘girlfriend jeans’ may be one of the new fashion buzzwords doing the rounds, but boyfriend jeans are still a reliable staple for many of us – Topshop’s oversized boyfriend jeans and New Look’s ripped boyfriend jeans are still up for grabs. Take a tip from Gucci and wear them with a high-necked blouse and free-flowing hair, or try a polo neck and a bobble hat when winter sets in.
Alternatively, go straight to the menswear department for the real deal. H&M, River Island and Weekday are reliable favourites, particularly for tracking down graphic print jumpers, casual plaid shirts and other basics, and Primark is a strong budget option. However, Topman is in a league of its own, with a simple but effective khaki field jacket and a multi-purpose black double stripe knitted cape already cited as key pieces by the brand’s digital editor. Expect both to fly off the shelves, and consider pairing them with cigarette trousers or buckle boots.
Lastly, if you prefer your menswear pre-loved, you can have a field day in any decent vintage shop, with dungarees, Fred Perry shirts and Harrington jackets (very This Is England) all likely to be hidden amongst the rails. Wear any of these with a slick of red lipstick or glossy black nail polish to create a sharp contrast. However you choose to add menswear to your wardrobe, you’ll find an androgynous look is versatile, edgy and easy to wear – unlike that Prada dress.