April 19, 2015

The perception that "unisex" fashion arrived in the 60s then went away and came back.

Here's "A Brief History of Unisex Fashion" in The Atlantic:
In her new book Sex and Unisex: Fashion, Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution, the University of Maryland professor Jo Paoletti revisits the unisex trend....

As far as the American fashion industry was concerned, the unisex movement came and largely went in one year: 1968. The trend began on the Paris runways, where designers like Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, and Paco Rabanne conjured up an egalitarian “Space Age” of sleek, simple silhouettes, graphic patterns, and new, synthetic fabrics with no historical gender associations....

The unisex movement may have made women’s clothes more masculine, but it never made them unfeminine; furthermore, “attempts to feminize men’s appearance turned out to be particularly short-lived,” Paoletti notes....

Paoletti traces the end of the unisex era to the mid-1970s. In 1974, Diane von Furstenberg introduced her wrap dress, a garment that combined femininity and functionality....

Since the 1990s, however, fashion has been blurring gender lines once again. A recent New York Magazine story traced modern androgyny to grunge: Women donned flannel lumberjack shirts and combat boots while Kurt Cobain posed in ballgowns and housedresses.... Indeed, unisex everything appears to be back with a vengeance....
As fashion, unisex must cycle in and out. Things must look new and then old and, eventually, new again. But not all unisex clothing is part of fashion trending. Once everyone decided we could wear jeans (and other workmanlike trousers) and T-shirts (long and short sleeved), that was always an option, not because of fashion, but for functionality, cheapness, and simplicity. Fashion sometimes taps into this anti-fashion work-and-poverty ethic, so it seems to go in and out, but it's really always been there. It's a separate question whether anyone is specifically attempting to project the message: I am neither male nor female. A subquestion is: Among those who choose to project a neither-male-nor-female message, which ones are expressing his/her true identity and which ones are trying to be cool/cute? Subsubquestion: Which ones even know?

17 comments:

rhhardin said...

Two great unisexes animate the world.

Phil 3:14 said...

Upscale sweat suits.

rhhardin said...

Hips are a problem with unisex fashion.

Laslo Spatula said...

"...unisex must cycle in and out."

There is no 'in and out' with Unisex. I would think.

I am Laslo.

Sam L. said...

Subsubsubquestion: Who even cares?

CStanley said...

Whenever unisex comes in fashion, there are women who maintain femininity while wearing those styles and others who can't. The latter envy the former, and that becomes the point of the fashions.

It is always this with fashion because the industry cynically plays to the worst internecine instincts of women. That is why most fashion runways consist of up realistically beautiful women who look good in spite of what they are wearing rather than because of it.

CStanley said...

"Always thus"
"Unrealistically beautiful"

madAsHell said...

How I learned to stop worrying, and love my moose knuckle.

JZ said...

Unisex was and is functional. The androgynous era in the 1970s was something different, I think.

sean said...

Unisex in the sense of women adopting some traditional articles of male clothing is a common and long-standing practice. I am not aware of any period in my life, except briefly in the mid-t0-late 60s (think Brian Jones), when men started wearing clothes perceived as feminine. There are often articles in the press about female fashions for men, but you never see them on the street.

Laslo Spatula said...

When Jessica Alba was preparing for her role in 'The Fantastic Four' she was very proud that the costumes for the heroes were unisex, and not designed for the woman to be titillating.

I had to explain to her that, with breasts like hers, there was no such thing as 'unisex'.

She laughed that cute self-effacing laugh of hers, and then proceeded to rub her naked titillating breasts back-and-forth around my erect penis until I ejaculated where the '4" would be if she was wearing the costume in question.

She then clipped her toenails on the couch.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Ironically, I had much the same conversation with Scarlett Johannson about her costume in 'The Avengers.'

Pretty much the same outcome. Minus the toenail clipping.

I am Laslo.

traditionalguy said...

A woman in tight blue jeans and a cowboy shirt with open cleavage still announces sex from 100 yards away. Is that non gender or is it a strong woman challenging Texas cowboys to sex?

chickelit said...

The Replacements (remember them?) sang about it:

Androgynous

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jeans and T-shirts are my near-daily wear, but I never thought of them as being "unisex." (OK, except on the rare occasions when I accidentally dip into my husband's stash ...)

Kzookitty said...

Oh, I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay, I sleep all night and I work all day...
kzookitty

hoyden said...

Women's clothing can be baffling. Do women choose to dress for others or for themselves? I was not socialized female so I missed whatever guidance was given.

I have a narrow range of female clothing I enjoy. Clothing must fit well and be comfortable, practical, and durable. I want pockets that can hold a wallet, long enough sleeves and pants legs, and nothing too foofy; no zippers up the side or things that button in the back.