What do your clothes say about you? How do they make you feel?
Our clothes are important. Or rather, they should be. They should make us feel good about ourselves, or protected or safe. They’re central to the visual narrative that defines us. Saying who we are, what’s important to us, whether we’re style conscious or we prioritise function or comfort. They can tell whether we’re extrovert or introvert. They make us feel part of a community. They’re the way we express ourselves.
And for centuries they’ve been a visual marker of our gender.
So as more of us define our gender as being outside the binaries we’re finding that traditional styles and fits don’t necessarily work for us any more. And while society, led by Gen Z, is changing quickly, the fashion world is taking longer to reflect the needs and wants of consumers.
So we have to work harder and be more creative to find a look that matches our gender expression.
The idea that you need to look a certain way if you're non-binary is a harmful misconception propagated by the media. Although the world is still grappling with the idea that gender identity is different to gender expression. It’s really up to you how you express yourself.
Of course some people are happy with gendered clothing, and that's completely valid. But generally Enby people seem to have three approaches to expressing themselves outside of the binaries. The first is to cover up any sign of gender, the second to avoid gendered clothing entirely, and the third is about not being bound by any gender norms and breaking out to wear whatever feels good.
Of course these are not prescriptive. You can take a single path or mix it up. How you express yourself is down to whatever matches your personality and feels good, because it really depends on who you are and how much you want to draw attention.
So here we’ve put together a few fashion and styling ideas to help you look good and feel good wherever you go. But remember, you might not get it right on your first try. This is very much about experimentation and it’s your style to define.
How Do You See Your Gender?
The first thing to finding the right look is to know how you see your gender. Are you entirely gender neutral, demigender or gender fluid? And does your gender expression differ from your gender identity? To put it in a nutshell, your gender expression is the outward reflection of who you are, and your gender identity is the inward, and they can be different.
The Difference Between Androgynous and Unisex Clothing
The concept of unisex has been around for a long time and refers to clothes that are socially acceptable when worn by men or women. So we’re talking T-shirts, jeans, sweatshirts, hoodies etc. Wearing unisex clothes isn’t breaking gender norms. This is great for people who simply want to remove signs of gender or prefer some ambiguity.
The word androgynous refers to the quality of possessing both masculine and feminine traits. So androgynous fashion incorporates both feminine and masculine. Wearing androgynous clothing is much more of an act of resistance, it says “I refuse to comply to what you consider socially acceptable.”
Concealing Your Gender
If you’re concealing you’ll need to look for oversize clothing to draw attention away from your body shape, making it much harder to identify your gender. This look may also go hand in hand with a gender neutral hairstyle. You may even want to go for multiple layers. But don’t think concealing is just a baggy skater style.
Oversize is back in fashion in 2023 after Gucci, Balenciaga, Chloe, and Moschino all showed oversize on their catwalks. But to look chic rather than shabby buy oversized garments in your size or one size larger, rather than just buying things that are three or four sizes too big. That will ensure that overall length and sleeves still fit and it’s not unflattering or baggy in all the wrong places.
One thing to remember is that it can be harder to look professional in oversized clothing. It’s certainly not impossible but doing stylish in oversize starts to get a bit more expensive, so do bear this in mind if that’s the route you’re going.
Style icons: Billie Eilish
Shop at: The Rainbow Stores, ASOS, Shein, H&M, Boohoo
Gender Neutral Clothing
This effectively means the absence of masculinity or femininity. It’s about unisex clothes that are acceptable when worn by either men or women. But alternatively you can look for something new that isn’t seen as being a gendered item yet.
For many this look will mean basic tees, button shirts, regular fit sweatshirts and hoodies, slacks, cargo pants, straight leg jeans and regular fit jackets. But long cardigans, dungarees and jumpsuits are also great choices.
One thing that works really well for this style is layering. So a tee with a button shirt and long cardigan and wide leg trousers is a classic look.
See below for specific advice on individual items.
One of the best exponents of gender neutral clothing is Barbara I Gongini and her clothes are available online. If budget is an issue you could create an entire wardrobe from high street brands and thrift store finds.
Style icons: Tilda Swinton, Amandla Stenberg, Elliot Page, Asia Kate Dillon
Break All The Rules Androgynous Clothing
This is a path of total individuality. A fusion in which anything and everything goes and there are no rules. Your choices are as much about you personally as they are about your gender identity.
In many ways it’s the opposite of genderless, it’s being both at the same time. For AMAB people (assigned male at birth) think wearing clothes traditionally seen as feminine or mixing it up by sporting a beard and wearing a dress or even top to toe feminine fabrics.
For AFAB (assigned female) it’s about things traditionally seen as male, or you can mix it up in a workman’s jacket and makeup or all masc fabrics.
You can even float between traditionally masc and femme on any given day. What you wear doesn’t strongly underline a binary gender, and it doesn’t have to be stylish. As long as you feel good that’s all that matters.
Pointless us suggesting anything specific here as literally every item of clothing is included, although we’d recommend you go with things that compliment your age and body shape. Looking fabulous is wonderful, and honestly if you feel good go with it, but missteps can draw more of the wrong attention. You can easily look like you’re wearing your mom’s curtains!
Style icons: Billy Porter, Jamie Windust, Harry Styles, Jonathan Van Ness, Olly Alexander, Alok V Menon, Sam Smith
Gender Neutral T-Shirts
We won’t surprise anyone for pointing out the genderless status of the humble t-shirt. But there’s tees and there's tees. For neutral-gendered looks avoid cap sleeves, scoop necks and anything fitted such as muscle shirts. Go for a basic crew neck in either regular fit or baggy.
If you’re on a budget then there are loads of places to buy plain basic tees. But do be aware of high street brands trying to pass off their standard streetwear ranges and rebrand them as genderless.
Why not go to retailers that are making genuine efforts to support the community. And preferably those who don’t force you down binary routes when you get to their website. Finding a site with ‘Mens’ and ‘Womens’ as navigation choices will tell you how far a brand is really embracing non-binary choices.
All of our regular tees are unisex (the ones printed on the front, not the ones printed all over), so you can grab any of those off our rails and they should fit the bill. You can see some in the slider above.
There are a few other brands you could also try who specifically do genderless tees: try Lonely Kids Club.
Gender Neutral Button Shirts
An absolute staple of genderless fashion. Many brands are now creating identical patterns and colours in mens and womens ranges, but that still treads a binary line. Much better to create garments based on various body types.
There are a few brands now catering for the non-binary market and going down this route. An excellent one is Clothing Without Labels who have four different shirt shapes to fit different body shapes rather than standard fits for binary genders.
Gender Neutral Trousers
These are such a ubiquitous item that you may feel that nothing is gendered. If you dress androgynously then everything is available, but for gender neutral avoid tight fitted trousers. So straight leg jeans, wide leg trousers (pleated works really well), cargo pants or slacks are all good. Ijji offer a good selection of straight leg options.
Gender Neutral Suits, Jackets and Coats
There are many gender neutral jackets to choose from. From the standard unisex styles such as denim jackets, bombers, puffers, anoraks and raincoats to specifically gender neutral styles such as quilt jackets, which are hugely fashionable right now.
Also blazers or boyfriend jackets work well for AFAB people. Places like Kirrin Finch pride themselves on their menswear-inspired suits & jackets that are cut for a female body shape. You can see one of Kirrin Finch's awesome suits in the picture to the right.
Oversize overcoats are also a great addition to any wardrobe.
Jumpsuits, Playsuits and Dungarees
If you’re bored of the mainstream items then there are many more interesting styles that can be explored. Jumpsuits, playsuits and dungarees are a great choice at the moment and they’re available from many high street stores, thrift shops and independent makers. It’s hard to beat Lucy & Yak though for their spectacular range of patterns and colours.
Gender Neutral Dresses & Skirts
OK so this may be a surprise inclusion here as most people will say, “Hey dresses are really binary items” and our response would be that wearing a dress doesn’t make you a woman any more than wearing a suit and tie doesn’t make you a man.
Androgynous dressers, especially AMAB ones will include dresses in their wardrobes, although we’d say look for something that works on your body shape. A denim pinafore dress is a great option for example, but tent dresses, A-line dresses, t-shirt dresses and oversize button dresses are also great options.
One of the favourites may be a maxi dress or maxi shirt as that's not only a good shape but can cloak body shapes. But unless you want to go for attention maybe stick to plain colours initially. This one from Forgotten Tribes again with wide sleeves and interesting detailing is a great example of genderless dress that works on any body shape
Colour, Pattern And Fabric
There was a time when absence of gender meant absence of colour, and black or neutral greys were the default. That’s no longer the case. You can mix and match colours and patterns just as you can garments. So a lime green sleeveless jumper with a pair of orange patterned slacks fits the bill. Have fun with matching and clashing patterns and fabrics.
Colour and pattern haven’t always been great in mens clothing. In fact it’s been largely pretty drab, while women have had a full spectrum of delights. So if colour is important to your look you may find yourself erring on the femme side. That’s not to say mens fashion is devoid of colour. It’s just a bit scarce.
Not only is the whole spectrum of colour in your realm but you should be exploring a whole gamut of amazing patterns. If you’re gender neutral, find patterns that don’t sit in either masc or femme categories. And for gender fluid then defy expectations and AMAB people can wear femme patterns and AFAB dig out more masc ones such as herringbone, plaid, houndstooth and pinstripe.
Fabric falls along similar lines to colour. But really it’s all down to your personal preference.
Denim obviously never went away, but it has a huge role within genderless fashion. That’s largely been driven by newer, looser shapes and styles that don’t highlight gendered body shapes. In 2019 Levis were one of the first global brands to embrace non-binary clothing when they did a blog called The Levi’s Guide to Unisex Style.
Fabrics that have become to any degree gendered are also now free for all. AFAB people may want to look at Twills, Worsteds or Tweeds.
And more delicate fabrics, such as lace, mesh, sheer, silks and satins, that have been traditionally associated with women can now be worn by anyone, but especially for gender fluid people.
There are no rules. Use and abuse accessories by mixing colours, textures, stones and metals. Try a pearl brooch on a denim jacket, a pink belt on pinstripe trousers or a rhinestoned bag with a jumpsuit. Be experimental.