Finding affordable gender-neutral fashion

Guest post by Minerva Siegel
Some of H&M’s gender-nuetral fashion choices

We received a question from a reader asking us to find inexpensive gender-neutral fashion:

I love all your posts about non-binary/genderfluid people! I recently have come out as genderfluid, and it’s so helpful to see others going through it as well!

Any chance of a fashion roundup of affordable gender non-conforming clothes? -El

This has proven to be more difficult than anticipated. Trans-men and -women have a comparatively decent amount of clothing options — gender-neutral fashion usually comes from high-end designers with luxury price tags.

I can’t wait for the day that we can walk into trendy, inexpensive, fast-fashion shops and see gender-neutral sections (I’m hopeful!) or, hell, even the abolishment of gendered fashion altogether. After all, getting rid of gender binaries in fashion would blow the entire industry wide open! Could you imagine, say, Alexander McQueen coming out with a line of structured, mixed-material, ethereal dresses for masculine bodies? Or Armani developing a collection of impeccably-tailored suit options for feminine bodies? Maybe, someday, even avant-garde, gender-neutral fashion for all body types will become mainstream! Gender-neutral and trans fashion is already working its way into the world of haute couture, but, for now, finding inexpensive clothing options for gender-nonconforming people can be totally frustrating.

While H&M doesn’t currently offer a specific gender-neutral clothing section, I’m impressed by how much of their clothing offered can suit masculine women, feminine men, and every gender in between. It requires a little more digging than any of us would like, but there are definitely a lot of garments offered that could easily suit any gender — all at reasonable, competitive prices. I was pleased to find that even their plus size section (which goes up to 4x) offers masculine options for feminine bodies!

The gender neutral Uni Jacket from H&M

There really aren’t many retailers out there embracing gender-neutrality whatsoever, but progressive retail giant Target just made a huge announcement! They’re launching a much-anticipated line of gender-neutral clothing for children as part of a partnership with Swedish company Toca Boca! This is a major step and hopefully the start of a nationwide trend. Target has also been moving to phase out gender-specific labeling and product categories, as if you needed another reason to love them!

A quick Google search will reveal a lot of clothing options for transgender people, but gender-neutral clothing is hard AF to come by, honestly. Unless you’re comfortable in shapeless, oversized t-shirts and jeans, finding gender-neutral fashion inexpensively will be tough.

The solution is obvious to me: abolish the very idea of gendered clothing. After all, each of us are comprised of shades of traditionally masculine and feminine traits, mixed to the point of rendering the very genderization of those traits ineffective. Those who identify as women define femininity for themselves; same for men and masculinity. Gendered aesthetic expectations don’t need to exist; they’re social constructs that a lot of people find extremely oppressive, so it’s high time we start kicking these restrictive, arbitrary social rules to the curb!

So, to answer the original query: there really aren’t many options for affordable genderless clothing, but things are looking up! Currently, finding the kind of garments you’re looking for at inexpensive prices will require digging through rack upon rack at H&M and shops like it, and maybe a little creativity, too. Facebook has a lot of clothing swap groups for people who don’t conform to genders or who are gender-fluid- you might find some great pieces there. Other than that, I simply encourage you to define masculinity and femininity for yourself, and to wear whatever you damn well want to wear!

Comments on Finding affordable gender-neutral fashion

  1. I am a little confused as to why you made this a post where you said you had no answers, and didn’t reach out to anyone else who may know. Hopefully more people reply with suggestions, I have some to share.

    Firstly affordable is tricky. If it’s cheap then it will likely fall apart within a year and is unethical in terms of human labour and the environment. See above: H&M. Fast fashion is awful. Plus new ideas have to trickle down from more expensive fashion houses, so old navy or cheaper clothing stores won’t do it until they can see there’s a market for it.

    I always recommend op shops and finding a sewing person to help you make adjustments. Things in op shops (thrift stores) have already survived one wardrobe, so they are more likely to be tough anyway. Also recommend checking out fashion students and their graduate shows as they are the newest designers and many are taking on gender free style. <- my fave

  2. I find that the way around this is to know your body and what works for it in the other gender selection. (I have hips, no male pants will ever fit right. Almost all slim-fit man shirts do, though.)

    Warehouse outlet type places and/or thrift second-hand shops are great for starting because they don’t have agressive sales-people and will generally not care what you try on. It takes a lot of guts to go into a regular shop and browse the opposite gender selection.

    The trick is to shop with a different eye, viewing every item individually and how it could be styled in your context. Being non-binary, you won’t fit in a box. Either the male or female one.

    Also, accessories make a difference and are easy to get online. Modcloth has a crazy awesome shoe selection for women who don’t want girly heels (oxfords galore, ya’ll) I wouldn’t recommend buying clothes online, fit is really hit and miss if your shopping clothing tailored not-in-your-gender.

    I think your best and easiest to get look defining piece is a good haircut.

    Have fun! Be you!

    • Also, in addition to what fits right, you can also learn to know what “traditional” items give your body a more gender-neutral look. I have very small boobs so any quality male sweater (cheap ones tend to be shapeless) worn with a button-down shirt will make me appear flat-chested without binding, which fits the bill whenever I feel sporting a gender-neutral aesthetics.

      I second the thrift-shop suggestion, also because you have a very large array of styles which allows you to experiment without breaking the bank.

  3. I think this is really going to depend on your aesthetic, as well. Some styles are much more gendered than others. You might find retro shops help – while the 50s and 60s where very gendered, the 70s and 80s were a haven for gender neutral fashionistas. Punk was aggressively gender neutral, but doesn’t provide a lot of business casual options, while the New Romantics embraced gender neutral frilly formal wear but lacked lazy day clothes. Grunge was pretty gender neutral, and 90s goth ran the full gamut, but there’s not as much out there in current styles – apart from oversized t-shirts and loose blazers a lot of modern clothing has swung back to being heavily gendered, which makes buying off the rack more complicated unless you’re willing to break out a sewing machine and have at it.

  4. I’m not sure I agree with the solution being to “abolish all gendered clothing”. It sounds like that’s just taking away one choice to offer another, rather than expanding people’s options. There’s nothing wrong with gendered clothing, just as there’s nothing wrong with genderless clothing. I get the frustration when there are gendered clothes everywhere and very limited choice if you don’t fit into that box, so I understand where this article’s coming from. I just wanted to point out that by advocating the abolition of gendered clothes the article was advocating limiting choice in a different way, even though I’m sure that wasn’t the intention!

    There are some good suggestions here, both in the article and the comments. It’s a shame there aren’t more choices, but hopefully shops will start to offer more as they see there’s a market for it. In the meantime, it seems like it’s the same for any “unconventional” fashion choice, you just have to get creative (which can be a real pain but sometimes yields something so much better than you’d find in a shop anyway!).

    • I think really the argument should be for abolishing the gendering o clothing, rather than gendered clothing. Anyone should be able to wear frilly dresses, or sharp suits, or glam high heels, or surf shorts. Cut all clothes to fit all bodies!

      • No help in regards to finding affordable clothing but definately on point concerning this debate (gendered clothing) is a video that just appeared in my instagram feed.

        A brief exposé by gender non-believing model Rain Dove on shopping in the other section. (Sorry for linking to instagram, I can’t seem to find it on youtube)

  5. I just found a store, and thought it might help out! It’s called Discriminant and describes itself thusly: “Discriminant is a New York (soon to be Maryland) based online store that provides trendy clothing at affordable prices. Discriminant does not focus on gender, rather the quality of service and products. Everyone is welcomed to each item sold without label restrictions. We don’t believe in putting boundaries to self expression.” Their clothes look awesome, and are pretty inexpensive!

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