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While some fashion trends are fleeting, others withstand the test of time, making you wonder how they ever began as just a trend. Gender-neutral clothing — or wardrobe pieces that eschew the gender binary and traditional gender codes — is, of course, the latter.
Genderless designs have seen a recent rise in fashion, though such inclusivity shouldn’t circle the trend cycle the same way a single color or silhouette might. These days, it’s entirely possible to stock your closet with genderless basics, no matter how you identify.
Gender-neutral clothing isn’t just about making an oversized tee or a pair of joggers that are appropriate for both men and women: It’s about abstaining from gender codes all together. It’s about taking down the notion that both clothing and those that wear it must obey the gender binary. While it’s still not easy to find genderless clothing in most mainstream stores, many smaller brands create clothing that doesn’t just toe the line between masculine and feminine — it erases that line completely.
It’s about rethinking everything from a single fit model to photographing an item on multiple genders for some brands. Other times, it’s reviewing what makes an item traditionally feminine or masculine (like a cinched waist or a notched lapel, for instance) and rejecting those tropes as indicators of who “should” be wearing them.
Still, it’s important to note that not every brand creating gender-neutral clothing is a fully genderless brand. Retailers like Wildfang are focused on making clothing for women whose style isn’t traditionally feminine. And, though fashion darling BODE is technically a menswear brand, it shows during men’s fashion week and many still largely categorize it under menswear. However, the brand blurs traditional gender codes by utilizing quilting, mending and other typically female-driven sartorial signifiers. Then there are brands like OneDNA, A.BCH, IJII, Older Brother and Zero Waste Daniel who design and create clothing without gender at the forefront at all.
Here are 17 gender-neutral essentials to add to your closet ASAP.
Shop: A.BCH A.36 Mock Neck Skivvy, $95
Made in Melbourne, A.BCH’s lineup of genderless basics are the perfect foundation for any closet.
Shop: K.ngsly Black Race-her Ribbed Tank, $180
Designer Kingsley Gbadegesin launched his namesake label in the middle of the pandemic, intending to create basics for everybody — especially for Black, queer and trans communities. The line of imaginative tanks is a hit among fashion folk.
Shop: Sixty-Nine Cropped Blazer, $300
This cropped oversized blazer from Sixty-Nine is perfect for layering.
Shop: Muttonhead Camping Hoodie, $136
All of Muttonhead’s products are completely gender-neutral. And, as a bonus, its entire supply chain is based in North America.
Shop: Tanner Fletcher Ruffle Trim Lounge Shorts, $165
Who says a ruffle hem is only for women? Tanner Fletcher, an up-and-coming brand based out of Brooklyn, has gender-neutral separates and homewares that will reflect your personality.
Shop: Oblanc Layered Back-Pocket Jeans, $395
Oblanc, a unisex brand with a streetwear-inspired edge, makes these repurposed layered-pocket jeans, available in sizes 25-40.
Shop: OneDNA Classic Puffer Jacket in Chocolate Brown, $198
OneDNA gained steam with its “Women Are Powerful” crewneck sweatshirts, but this classic puffer in a ‘90s-inspired chocolate hue is equally versatile.
Shop: Ushatava O-Shaped Shirt, $99
Minimalist brand Ushatava stocks a few pieces that veer feminine (slip dresses, bandeau tops, knit leggings), but most of its offerings — like this boxy button-down shirt — are properly gender-neutral.
Shop: Bode Sheer Pagoda Shirt, $445
Technically, Emily Bode’s namesake brand BODE is a menswear line — she made headlines for being the first female designer to show at NYFW Men’s. But this sheer organza short-sleeve shirt is perfect for anyone with style, no matter your gender.
Shop: Pangaia Heavyweight Recycled Cotton Hoodie, $150
Pangaia still separates its site by men and women — but it photographs both genders in each piece so you can get a feel for its fit, no matter how you identify.
Shop: IJII Silk Sky Shirt, $200
Founded in 2016, IJII is a genderless label out of California that caters to anyone that prefers their clothing body-skimming, neutral-hued and versatile enough for everyday wear.
Shop: Tonle Darcy Dress, $82
With a mission to disrupt gender binarism in the fashion industry, Tonle’s collection of wrap skirts, Dolman-sleeve tops and A-line dresses like this swingy ribbed style are for everyone.
Shop: Telfar Cut-Out Boyfriend Jeans, $695
Telfar Clemens was practicing radical inclusivity well before it was trendy. The proof is in his fluid designs, like his Shopping Bag that became the must-have of 2020. Even more: It’s not easy to make a pair of gender-neutral pants without looking shapeless or oversized, but Clemens nails it.
Shop: Afends Chess Hemp Pant, $120
These flat-front pants from Byron Bay-brand Afends have a baggy, Euro-inspired fit.
Shop: Zero Waste Daniel Pink All-Over Reroll Mask, $25
Sustainable brand Zero Waste Daniel is exactly what the name implies: A line of genderless clothing that recycles landfill-destined scraps into new pieces. This pink mask comes with a matching sweatsuit, too.
Shop: Older Brother Mushroom Blazer, $195
Older Brother doesn’t just make genderless, Americana-inspired basics: It makes them ethically and sustainably, too.
Shop: Pause Delancey Genderless Vegan Leather Shirt, $248
NYC-based Pause, founded in 2017 as a womenswear-forward line, leans into believing that clothing should be for “literally anybody.” The brand recently began to design pieces that refuse to play into the gender binary — like this amazingly luxe leather button-down shirt.
If you enjoyed this article, check out the 5 subtle changes Lauren Caruso is making to her wardrobe in 2021!
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