Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gender Neutral Fashion...Who Started The Trend?

In the history of the Western world women had always worn skirts/dresses and men have always worn trousers and that got me to thinking…When did the whole gender neutral fashion trend begin & who started it?

I know that it wasn’t until the time of World War II ‘1939 to 1945’ that women even fathomed the idea of wearing pants and actually began borrowing their husbands when they had to take on traditionally male jobs during the great depression.


Get this…It wasn’t until the 70’s that slacks became especially favorable and fashionable for women!  I guess up until then it wasn’t considered ‘proper female attire’.   All I have to say about that is …“Thank goodness for Gloria Steinem and the women’s liberation movement!”  Cliche' to say but "We have come a long way baby!"

Woody Allen’s 1977 movie Annie Hall is known by everyone to have had a huge influence on gender neutrality in fashion when Diane Keaton portrayed the title character in this popular comedy.  Women began mirroring ‘The Annie Hall Look’ as it was dubbed by layering oversized mannish blazers over vests as well as wide leg slacks (i.e. palazzo) or long ankle length skirts and the whole look was finished off with some sort of boot type or black loafer shoe.  Ralph Lauren ties even became popular with women because after all…it was a part of Annie Hall’s signature style.

Some 80’s movies also carried over the ‘Annie Hall Look’.  Remember Molly Ringwald in Pretty In Pink and Sixteen Candles? She was pretty much wearing the same style in both films and teens and women everywhere were copycatting.  She even incorporated the style into her own everyday fashion.

Let’s go back and rewind to the 60’s shall we when the godmother of punk rock Patti Smith started her career.  She came on the scene lacking any sense of inherent femininity with her disheveled greasy hair, boyish frame and let’s not forget the hairy armpits!  In spite of all of this she was a connoisseur of haute couture wearing Armani & Versace blazers over her tee shirts held together with safety pins.
You may have seen her on the cover of Rolling Stone but she’s never been on the cover of Vogue and even though she’s never been a runway model her charismatic style has been duped on many a cat walk.  Patti Smith’s fashion gender bending style was going on long before there ever was an ’Annie Hall Look’  

I had read an article in The New York Times that stated even when she headlined at the final night of CBGB, the fabled Bowery club where she performed as a girl, as well as out and about at a string of public outings throughout the past decade, she has cleaved to her signature style, an unlikely fusion of glamour and grit. In her raffish T-shirts and boy coats, in concert she is the anti Gaga, rejecting gaudy, serial costume changes, refusing to bend with every shift in fashion’s wind.

That constancy has made Ms. Smith a trendsetter for several generations — how many young girls emulate her look of pegged jeans, boyfriend jackets and white shirts without ever realizing it?  


Beth said...

I loved how women made movement to this sort of style. Very unique & interesting post. Thank you

babyblue said...

I follow you on twitter & been following your blog! love it!