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FEATURE

June 22, 2018

By Noelani Piters

BREAKING THE GENDER BARRIER: CLOTHES YOU, SHE, HE & THEY CAN ALL WEAR

RealStyle | Breaking The Gender Barrier
There’s no question that fashion is always changing. Yes, trends come and go, but a new turn towards inclusivity luckily has staying power, and every day designers grapple with how to better reflect people of all colors, cultures, genders and identities. Though many brands still design based around the binary realm of male and female, some have begun to move in a more progressive direction, whether it be with their runways, ad campaigns, styling or the collections themselves.
In honor of Pride month, we celebrate both the LGBTQ community and the varied spectrum of gender, and encourage those of all gender identities — transgender, male, female, genderfluid, non-binary and beyond — to empower themselves with the self-expressive tool of fashion. Read on for a variety of luxe, bold and multihued pieces that anyone can wear, no matter how you identify, plus Associate Editor & Writer Kaila Abruzzo’s expert styling tips.
Gotta-Have Gucci

RealStyle | Breaking The Gender Barrier

Gucci 2017 Embroidered Sweater; Gucci Web Gradient Sunglasses; Gucci Leather Bomber Jacket

Maximalism and opulence have been Alessandro Michele’s modus operandi since his appointment as Gucci’s Creative Director, but the blurring of traditional gender norms has also been inherent in Michele’s approach. Michele’s Gucci — full of metallics, wide-leg trousers, fantastical patterns, neckerchiefs, embroidery and lace — are perfectly accessible for all. “Gucci has a bold and beautiful piece for everyone,” notes Kaila Abruzzo, our Associate Editor & Writer. “Find something that speaks to you. Then, you can use it to make any conceivable look one hundred times cooler!”
Gucci’s efforts for equality don’t stop at genderless trends, however: Michele unified the house’s men’s and women’s shows by showing them in one grand tour de force, featuring transgender models like Hari Nef on the catwalk as well. Nef, notably the first trans woman to be signed to modeling agency IMG Worldwide, was also the face of Gucci Bloom fragrance’s campaign last year. In short, Gucci’s paving the way for progress one collection at a time.
Heritage Classics

RealStyle | Breaking The Gender Barrier

Hermès 2016 Shark Bolide 45; LV Monogram Pochette Florentine; Dior Saddle Bag

“There’s nothing better than wearing something that has a story, and comes from a place of innovation and action,” says Abruzzo. “I’m obsessed with poring over the history of heritage houses and finding what makes them remarkable. It makes me take pride in what I have.” There’s no question that established brands are doing their part to catch up to the 21st century, from Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2016 campaign featuring Jaden Smith artfully styled in a skirt, to Dior’s proclamation that “We Should All Be Feminists.”
“A great way to incorporate these heritage houses into your wardrobe is with a bag or accessory,” notes Abruzzo. “The belt bag’s nostalgic return is ideal, as it’s a quintessentially gender-neutral piece, but any handbag that you truly love is worth the investment.” Hesitant about the potential outdated and irrelevant gendered “handbag” stigma? At the end of the day, a bag should only exist to function as your personal carry-all companion, and to say something about yourself. Whether they’re labeled “men’s” or “women’s,” personal style is in the eye of the beholder, and these conventional labels should never deter you from making a classic your own.
Hype Luxe Essentials

RealStyle | Breaking The Gender Barrier

Off-White 2018 Mini Industrial Belt; Rolex Datejust Watch; Balenciaga 2017 Triple S Sneakers

As designers like Off-White and Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh and Balenciaga and Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia have begun to incorporate and emphasize streetwear within their repertoires, the mix of high and low has become the new norm. Fashion, in the past, has had the potential to feel elitist; but now, the boundaries have begun to break, and the individual’s take on fashion is valued now more than ever.
“Hype luxe is honestly the greatest fashion movement,” says Abruzzo. “You can mix streetwear-inspired pieces with a few key luxury pieces in an endless amount of ways to truly express your unique sense of style. It always looks cool and effortless, but chic too.” Seek out a versatile icon like a Rolex to anchor your look, then allow your taste to guide you through the rest.
9-To-5 Knitwear

RealStyle | Breaking The Gender Barrier

Anya Hindmarch Sweater; Raf Simons Destroyed Varsity Sweater; Eckhaus Latta Dolman Sweater

Sweaters have always served as the most effortless of staple pieces, and with many workplaces offering more casual dress codes, they make getting ready at 7 o’clock in the morning a cinch. “A sweater brings polish and ease together in the best way,” says Abruzzo. “They are the perfect thing to have in your daily rotation. Touches of personality like patterns, distressing and unexpected necklines keep workwear feeling fresh.”
Cult favorite Eckhaus Latta — elevated, avant-garde and subversive — is a go-to for knitwear, as designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta eschew customary norms and put diversity first in all aspects of their brand. Anya Hindmarch, with her colorful array of ready-to-wear (plus bags and accessories) is also always a fun, of-the-moment option. And Raf Simons, who designs for his namesake label as well as for Calvin Klein, continually produces pieces for all genders, with collections that feature an overall minimalist vibe.
Evening Wear For All

RealStyle | Breaking The Gender Barrier

Valentino 1973 Print Silk Top; Cartier LOVE Bracelet; Saint Laurent Surf Sound Blazer

When Yves Saint Laurent introduced the now iconic 1966 Le Smoking tuxedo, which socialite Nan Kempner famously wore to restaurant La Côte Basque and was turned away for, he brought a very revolutionary concept to fruition. Though Marlene Dietrich was unabashedly showing off her figure in men’s suits that she tailored to fit herself 30 years previous, Saint Laurent democratized the traditionally male evening wear. And while we agree that it’s not the only choice when dressing up for a night on the town, it certainly packs a punch.
“The very best of night-out looks balance comfort with power,” advises Abruzzo. “Don’t shy away from expressive color and sharp suiting, and you’ll stand out no matter where you go. Timeless jewelry is also the perfect balancing touch.” Cartier’s LOVE bracelet, designed originally for couples to wear together, is renowned as a gender-neutral classic. Don’t let the occasional diamond accents fool you — they’re everyone’s best friend.
Find more pieces everyone can wear with our curated editors’ picks.