An escape from normativity

By Ted Lavis Coward 

Gender identity does not always align with gender expression, but as an agender person I do tend to buy clothing that is not associated with either men or women. I seem to spend as much time in Topshop as I do Topman but most of the outfits I string together are compiled from mostly charity shop finds in which I don’t even know the intended gender for most of the items. My gender identity further translates in the way I do my makeup. Every morning I take my liquid eyeliner and add dots and lines to my face. I feel more comfortable with my gender neutral face paint than I would red lipstick in the same way I’m more comfortable in high waisted trousers than I would be a skirt.

As someone who is physically quite masculine I have found myself scared in the past to express androgynously. Androgyny isn’t a new concept in fashion for women, but for men androgyny is still stigmatised and is often dodged in countless “androgynous” ranges, which feature women in hoodies and tracksuits but never men in dresses. Female androgyny is fashionable but men expressing themselves in an effeminate manner, or anything that is considered less than masculine, is still met with various prejudices. The effeminate is still considered lesser and this is exactly how men are affected and restricted by misogyny. Androgyny is more than women presenting masculinely, it just seems that even in 2017 this is the only kind of androgyny palpable to the masses – the kind that perpetuates misogyny.


By Anna Gibbs

Let’s skip forwards in our on-trend pebble grey time machine to 2116 AD. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have long realised how dim and useless gender divides are, and how restrictive they can be in regard to hindering what people can achieve. When I sit down and think about it, (I don’t know why sitting down is a requirement for pondering, but we’re here now, aren’t we?) quite a large percentage of my favourite items of clothing are ‘men’s’. I have a chestnut backpack satchel from Zatchels which, despite being the size of a small suitcase and therefore happily also oversized enough for my taste, was cheaper than the pipsqueak women’s versions. There is nothing I hate more (this may be a slight exaggeration, terms and conditions apply), than mini satchels. Except on children. Otherwise they just make me feel like I want to tie my shoelaces tightly very angrily to demonstrate my passive aggressiveness towards their tiny stitches. I digress.

I recently bought some men’s boots over the women’s on offer for the simple reasons that they were sturdier; with more character – brogue style multi-toned leather; with dark metal hooks at the top, tartan skin inside. What a dream. Then you glance over at the opposite side of the shoe shop floor in despair. Sleek, dainty, less practical for exploring, more uncomfortable. I’m alright, but thanks for the offer. Why do men get the most interesting, adventurous, even intellectual fashion choices? I then, to my shame, noticed myself feeling ashamed to be buying men’s shoes, fiercely making self-deprecating jokes to the staff regarding my choice, such as that my brother has a similar pair. As if I had to validate my taste and preference for the more daring style. I wish I hadn’t. I additionally hate that ‘daring’ outfits for women usually involve ridiculously high heels in a block colour with some arrangement of feathers, and an either tiny or huge dress. The same thing over and over in adverts, worn by celebrities at premieres. Boring, boring, boriiiing.

Sometimes I ache to dress like a young Tudor prince, or a Victorian sailor, or in a high-necked military jacket – one of the dashing scarlet ones with the gold buttons and collar which frames your face very theatrically. I want that drama! I suppose it makes sense, after so many years of men being the ones discovering things, and inventing things and starting (cough)(additional louder further coughs) wars, with women being forced to live as second class citizens. Men would get the most adventurous outfits, as they were allowed to actually go and live fully. Let us not forget Ross’ costumes in Poldark. I solemnly swear, with you readers as my witnesses, that when I finally have enough money, I will one day buy a copy of his coat with the surreal and heavy drape, and a tricorn hat, which I will proudly wear over my bobbed hair. I think I’ll curl it too. Not the hat, I mean, the hair. Oh, and let us not forget to mention suits. Wait one second whilst I lay back, eyes closed, and imagine the perfect tweed suit, or matt navy and dove grey concoction. If you’ve seen the film ‘Mood Indigo’, or even just the wonderful trailer, I dare you to tell me your heart doesn’t flutter at the prospect of running around Paris in a sharp suit, to jazz music. And with pet mice. How have we been so ridiculous as to have regressed throughout history? Men used to wear tunics in Ancient Rome did they not, and how are we letting ourselves forget that French nobility used to ponce round in high heels in court? Let the men of today ponce freely too! Honestly, why not?

To conclude, as we’re on the topic, I would like to take this moment to tell Donald Trump – (I’m certain he reads Palatinate) –  that a) I am a woman and so whatever I wear, whether that be a suit or a dress (I’ll pass thanks), I am still ‘dressing like a woman’. And b) I don’t give a flying fig what men think about my outfits, because, amazingly, I don’t need your approval. *Gives low bow and exits stage left*

Photographer: Zsófia Borsi Stylist: Victor Schagerlund Model: Ted Lavis Coward

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