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a person dressed in an androgynous for graduation
Illustration by Kalyn Street, Drexel University

If you don’t fit neatly into the gender binary, here are some outfits you can wear for your big day.

An event larger than sports and Greek life is coming up: graduation. Fashion might not be everyone’s forte, but we can agree that looking our best for this monumental occasion is important. But what do you do when you don’t fall under a feminine or masculine umbrella? Androgyny!

Androgynous style is best defined as “the quality or state of being neither specifically feminine or masculine” and also includes the idea of carrying both characteristics at once. This is often linked to queer identity among many members of the LGBTQ+ community. “Masc” or masculine lesbians that dress more “manly” fall under this umbrella term, and feminine gay men, non-binary folks and many more can fit into this frame as well.

But fashion-wise, androgynous style comes into play for more than just the LGBTQ+. In fact, there is no limit on who can dress this way. What counts as androgynous, though? Well, it depends on the gender binary norms. Commonly used examples in media include men who wear skirts or women who don men’s suits. More than that, though, androgynous style is up to the wearer.

So you want to dress androgynous for graduation: First and foremost, the best thing to do is ask yourself how you want to “break” the binary. Personally, my response has been to dress more masculine or even combine both masculine and feminine styles depending on my headspace as a non-binary person. But yours could be different. Maybe simply adding a tie to your outfit in an edgy way could be enough. As a gentleman, it could be putting on a killer winged eyeliner look.

Oh, you want the full breakdown? Okay, okay. Here are some ideas from one androgynous style lover to another.

Make-Up or No Make-Up, That Is the Question

Let’s start with the simplest thing anyone of any gender can do for graduation: make-up. Perhaps the most accessible means of self-expression available through the centuries, make-up can be the start of your androgynous look. For a more feminine touch, add a touch of highlighter to your cheekbones for definition combined with eyeshadow that either pops with color or creates a smokey look. This kind of androgyny is not limited to masculine-presenting people though. If you are more feminine, keep these tips in your pocket if you want — or just skip make-up altogether.

Binders, Bras and in Between

This one might be more for the … ahem, female anatomy. (Though, my feminine men, do not think you cannot rock a cute lace bralette.) A more masculine look might include a binder to flatten the chest. When buying a binder, remember to make sure it is snug, but not suffocatingly snug. Most sites like gc2b include a way to measure yourself for the right fit. Also, do not wear it for more than eight hours as it can negatively impact your ribcage. Bras, though, are always an option — even in androgynous fashion — if you are not looking to ixnay the chest. Depending on the outfit, a good go-to is a simple skin color bra. Padded, lifted or neither is completely up to your comfort. Bralettes are a nice compromise and can even be used as a top on its own. Though, maybe not for graduation. Class is kind of important for this type of event.

Now the Outfit

Lovely feminine gentlemen, as said before, class is important. Androgynous style is classy no matter how you choose to spin it. A nice skirt, a pair of heels or even a cute dress could be what you want to break the binary. Or put on your make-up and pair it with a flowy flowery blouse French-tucked into some corduroy slacks and Doc Martens.

Ladies and they-dies, a suit never ages. Go all out with slacks, a vest and a blazer or simplify it with just the slacks and a nice button-down. Ties can also bring a look together. Heck, match your tie or even shirt color to your school or graduation stole. I know for myself, I chose to go with a pair of gray slacks and a twill gray vest with pockets over a white cotton button-down. (Now I have to decide whether to go with the red tie that matches my stole, or the navy blue.) Keep in mind the fabrics you choose when donning a suit. If you are in the South, thinner fabrics will be your friend. It may be cooler up north, so a slightly heavier fabric is okay, especially if your graduation is outside and in the evening.

Remember

The key idea with androgynous style, whether it be for graduation or life after academia, is to make the world of clothes your own. This article is only an idea generator. Androgyny is however you wish to present yourself between feminine and masculine characteristics. As long as you love what you are wearing, feel confident and think the best of yourself in those clothes, then what else really matters? To the graduating class, congrats on all of your hard work! Let your graduation outfit fit the occasion and you. Now go have a wonderful celebration of your achievements.

Writer Profile

Rebecca Trevathan

University of Texas at Austin
Journalism

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