Provoked by my recent perusal of YSL’s super-sharp 2010 Unisex collection I thought I’d take a little look at the tentative re-emergence of androgynous aestheticism on the runways this year. With names like Stella McCartney, 3.1 Philip Lim, DKNY and Alexander Wang leading the vanguard in borrowed-from-my-boyfriend modishness isn’t it about time you joined the boys’ brigade?

Yves Saint Laurent Edition Unisex Collection

YSL 'Le Smoking'

Last resurrected on the back of grunge in the nineties and epitomised by YSL’s legendary ‘Le Smoking’ Tuxedo in the sixties, the craze for the boyishly dressed girl first rocketed into the limelight in the Roaring Twenties with the infamous rise of the flapper. Page-boy bobs, loose straight tailoring, descending waist-lines were de rigueur, curls, cleavage and the fusty-old-hourglass silhouette were most definitely not. Scandalous.

While it may not be quite so shocking – so risqué – in today’s society, androgyny still packs a hefty sartorial punch delivering a double-whammy of highly sexualized ambiguity and convention-busting role appropriation (a derisory two fingers up to the rule book, if you will). If you think about it in terms of edge, androgyny is without a doubt the edgiest look of all; from tall, tailored and fierce (we’re talking man-eating fierce) to doe-eyed tomboyish naiveté, we’re talking the megagon of looks – at least.

3.1 Philip Lim s/s 2010

What you want to avoid (like the plague) with this look is overkill. Androgyny is a kind of best of both cherry-picking exercise in which you – funnily enough – take the best aspects from both gender closets and blend them together to create something which is neither one, nor the other. Think masculine silhouettes with a feminine twist – boxy-tailoring with skyscraper Louboutins for instance – or, reverse the idea and go for a girly summer dress with boyish brogues.

DKNY p/f 2010

Stella McCartney s/s 2010

Done well, boy-meets-girl is the undisputed supremo of style-sexy… but beware! Stray too far into the man-drobe and you run the risk of crossing the butch-border. Being mistaken for a man – or, for that matter, a socially contrived lesbian stereotype – is rarely (if ever) a good thing.

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