Non Binary Fashion: How Thrifting Emphasizes Style
This Pride Month, we’re celebrating the gender fluid possibilities of non binary fashion.
The phrase “non binary” can mean different things to different people: identifying as both genders, neither, one you weren’t assigned at birth, freely changing gender, and many other possibilities.
But the point is not just to look cute. It’s also about raising the visibility of people in the non-gender conforming community. According to the Phluid Foundation:
- The life expectancy of a trans woman of color is 35 years old in the US.
- Nearly 50% of the trans community has experienced physical violence in their lifetime.
- LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their peers.
When it comes to fashion, non binary style involves a lot of experimentation and personal expression. Unlike cis gender fashion, non binary fashion doesn’t impose a particular fashion sense based on the gender we’ve been assigned at birth.
Who’s most likely to think outside of gender norms to define their identity? Pretty much anyone under the age of thirty. Thirty-one percent of people born after 1997 (otherwise known as Gen Z) consider themselves non-binary, according to one survey. Eighty-one percent of Gen Z respondents to another survey said that gender doesn’t matter as much as it used to.
Even if major fashion labels like Balenciaga, Coach and Versace are all waving their rainbow flags this month, you don’t have to jump on the fashion label bandwagon to show your pride. With thrift, you can cut, tuck, twist, fold, and reinvent fashion to your own tune. Here are some quick tips for having some wardrobe fun whether you’re in or out of the closet.
Non Binary Fashion Tips and Advice
There’s beauty in knowing the entire clothing store is yours to explore. Ignore the “men’s” and “women’s” sections of the store and search in every aisle. Not much of a retail shopper these days? The same principle applies online. Non binary fashion means that very category is yours: both cute summer skirts and board shorts.
Color and pattern are often neglected areas in gendered men’s clothing. The options marketed toward women tend to be a lot more liberal in their use of the palette, but we all want free rein of the rainbow.
What’s the point of non binary fashion if you can’t suggest some supernatural or historically novel reinterpretation of gender?
Gender-inclusivity extends to size-inclusivity as well. Use proportions to defy expectations, whether it’s with ultra-baggy pants and sweaters, or tight, cropped pieces.
Accessories usually come with a loaded masculine or feminine aesthetic. When you mix and match them, you create your own pastiche of influences. This could be a wallet chain with your dress, or high heels with your cargo shorts.
Non binary fashion doesn’t just mean blurring binaries of gender, you can also reinterpret all kinds of coded situations. Why dress in business casual to your zoom meeting, when you can throw on something goth-inspired?
If you’re not feeling your outfit, the best thing to do is get inspiration. There are loads of non binary fashion influencers--it’s often just a matter of finding your tribe online.
What is Non Binary Fashion?
A big part of non binary fashion is self-identification, rather than defaulting to the labels society places on you. The fashion codes you inhabit can match your gender identity, but they don’t have to. The point is using fashion to feel comfortable with your own identity, and having the choice to express this or not.
It’s also about creating space for others to feel comfortable in their constantly shifting identities. As trans, non binary author Chaidie Petris writes: “Fostering a nonjudgmental space when it comes to fashion and gender expression may seem small, and is indeed part of a much larger picture, but can really contribute to making queer youth feel more safe and accepted. Beyond the discomfort experienced by many pre-transition transgender and non-binary people, the fact is that very few people (yes, even cisgender people) have a gender expression that 100% aligns with their gender assigned at birth.”
What is Gender Neutral Clothing?
While non binary fashion may seem like it’s an “anything goes” situation, it does help to distinguish the difference between gender neutral clothing and gender fluid clothing. Gender neutral clothing is decidedly both genders at the same time, or clothing that makes it difficult to discern gender. This can be a minimal monochromatic look, or it can be something more flamboyant with lots of color and mixed patterns. Gender fluid clothing can inhabit different gender codes temporarily, while never fully settling on one or the other. It’s about adjusting your clothing based on how you feel at the moment.
For more style advice, check out 6 Pride Month Style Tips to Try for Gender Neutral Outfits.
Where Can I Buy Androgynous Clothing?
More and more clothing brands are starting to market their products without gendered shapes or forms. The Phluid Project sells clothing from a variety of brands promoting non binary clothing.
However, a large part of gender fluid and gender neutral clothing is not about letting a brand dictate your style. As fashion icon Radam Ridwan writes, in support of genderfree clothing: “Genderless fashion options are a step in the right direction. However, marketing a third choice to non-binary people, somewhere in the middle of male and female, is as problematic as the salmon polo shirt. The implication is that there are specific ways non-binary people should dress, a counterproductive message in the deconstruction of oppressive gender stereotypes.”
Another approach is simply reinventing what’s available. That’s why many non-binary shoppers thrive at thrift stores where there’s a huge pool of material to work with from different decades, price points, and aesthetics.
How Can I Look Non-Binary?
Gender-free fashion usually comes with having an innate understanding of how masculine and feminine fashion elements may lack some reflection of your identity. Start exploring the ways you associate different styles with gender and try to reinterpret based on ways your identity doesn’t fit these preconceptions.
It doesn’t have to mean completely reversing expectations (a man wearing a dress), it can also mean making subtle experiments with style. You can use color, pattern, sizing, proportions, accessories and many other stylistic elements to experiment outside the obvious outfit choices for a given gender.
Create Unique Non Binary Clothing Styles with Goodfair
To take your non binary fashion sense to the next level, a good place to start is by researching the looks of some of your favorite non binary icons. This could be retro icons like Prince, Grace Jones, David Bowie, or Boy George; or it could be contemporary icons like Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, or Demi Lovato.
Whichever direction you take your non binary style, we’re here to help you do it in a more eco-friendly way. Our products may be labeled "Men's" or "Women's" to communicate the fit of the garment, but that is in no way indicative of who we think should be wearing those items. We encourage our customers to explore the styles that are right for them!
Like with our Men's Grad Bundle or...
...our Women's Grad Bundle.
Need more to experiment with? Style our Tree Hugger Bundle in a way that channels your favorite icon’s vibe.