My Note: I present androgynous most of the time when not being overtly feminine for an event, meeting or dinner out. People read me as they please. Most of the time the interaction are feminine, as I would expect, based on the feminine differentials that are presented. I found this blog post to be very interesting especially with its definition of androgyny. Please comment.
From the Lingerie Addict
BY ROSE APRIL 15, 2015
I'll be honest: I'm fascinated by the idea of androgyny in lingerie. Androgyny (when we're talking about aesthetics) is defined as a blending of masculine and feminine traits, or alternately, as a point between masculine and feminine. But when looking at lingerie, how do you decide whether a look is androgynous or not?
As a Supreme Court justice once said about something completely different: "I know it when I see it." I know when a look I'm wearing feels androgynous to me personally. But it seems to me that it's more complicated than that. I know what I see, but if androgyny is completely subjective, how do I know I'm conveying it to other people? What signals to people that something is in that elusive middle ground between masculine and feminine?
In order to answer this question I'm going to get a little academic today. I think that the best way to tackle this topic will be to look at how the word is getting used on the regular by experts and devoted amateurs, and see if I can come up with a few theories on what it is that can make a lingerie look androgynous.
Much of the time, androgyny ends up being defined by absences. The "androgynous model" is often someone with no facial hair, minimal curves, no heavy musculature. To a degree, we "read" people's genders by running down a checklist of traits like these. Breasts? Probably female. Beard? Probably male. Both? Takes a little more figuring out. When we look at clothing, the ideas are more abstract. We look at fit, color, and design elements to get a sense of what gender the piece of clothing is oriented towards.
|A VPL bra, featuring no
overtly feminine detailing.
Is this androgynous?
Caro, the blogger behind The Lingerie Lesbian, has put together a few collections of androgynous lingerie (For more examples, go here). Caro's selections are missing the gender indicators that you might find on more feminine lingerie: there's less lace, fewer of the "girly" colors, an absence of bows and ruffles that would normally send those "this is feminine!" signals.
These pieces certainly have an androgynous feel to them, but few of them are explicitly labeled as androgynous. Their androgyny comes mostly from not being strongly gendered. Similarly, last week I talked about Jenny Shimizu not wearing a bra at all: the bra is a very gendered piece of lingerie and a normalized part of the American female wardrobe, so skipping it is skipping a lot of gendered implications.
I think that the exact tipping point between androgynous and masculine (or androgynous and feminine) is a matter of taste and consensus, but often for a look to be androgynous, the wearer has to be balancing elements. (If you're interested in learning how, Autostraddle has a fantastic article laden with options for incorporating masculine underwear into your wardrobe.)
So What Is Androgynous Lingerie?
Androgyny, I think, is a constant negotiation that accounts for both your own desires and the expectations of your society. What's androgynous in one place may be feminine or masculine in another. For example, if you live in a country where bras are not the norm, not wearing a bra might not make you appear especially androgynous to the people around you. It might still make you feel androgynous, though, depending on your own experiences and the expectations you have about femininity.
Ultimately, androgyny seems to be about association. Because it's located between masculinity and femininity, it often makes references to those poles. And androgyny seems to appear more strongly when we invoke it.
At the end, I'm left with more questions -- questions about the histories that led us to think of certain lingerie pieces as feminine or masculine, questions about lingerie norms and gender in other countries, questions about whether different bodies influence what does and doesn't seem androgynous (and whether that's entirely fair). For now, I'll just ask: what lingerie pieces or stylings look androgynous to you, and why?