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The Beauty Spot: Gender neutral clothes should be for everyone, right?

The Beauty Spot is Zoe Scheltema’s weekly column that dissects the world of beauty and fashion. This week she reviews the new unisex clothing range by Zara.

The market for gender neutral clothing is expanding, and retailers are catching on quick fast. The largest fashion name to recently do so was Zara (who are coming to NZ very soon, just by the way).

They recently announced – very quietly for some reason – that they have released a gender neutral range of clothing. This is great thing for those who don’t necessarily identify with any particular gender and don’t feel comfortable shopping in the men’s or the women’s section.

The first thoughts I had when looking at it are that it seems to very much inspired by pajamas and lounge wear that most men and women have anyway. Which, in my book, is not a bad thing at all. The more people lounging, the better.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s in this new range that’s targeted towards neither the lads or the lasses.

The t-shirt:

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Named the ‘flowing unisex t-shirt’ it looks very comfortable, very flowy, very simple. It is a plain white tee, and you really can’t go wrong.

Grey hoodie:

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If I’m honest, I feel like offering a grey hoodie as a specific unisex item is akin to a chef offering fruit kebabs as a recipe in their cookbook. We all know about it, we all do it, we all enjoy it, you’re not telling me anything new.

Unisex jeans:

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Ah the jean. A tense subject – such a great item, but such a hard task to find one that fits lovely over your bottom.

The gender neutral jean is baggy, and definitely not hip-hugging. The styling suggestion implies that by rolling the hem up, it may be a great place for extra storage for your fruit kebabs.

I would argue that although this may be the style you prefer, it would not be as easy for a woman to pull this off.

Grey trackpants:

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Absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is an essential item for both genders. The best cure for a hangover is a pair of grey trackpants and everyone needs them.

Bermuda shorts:

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Aptly named the Bermuda shorts, because they were originally the grey track pant and then the bottom of them mysteriously went missing.

The ‘ungendered’ top:

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As the name suggests, this top is ungendered and uninhibited. It’s the item that says nothing, but says everything at the same time. I feel oddly comforted by this top. Maybe it is the deep blue that calms me to the core.

Overall, I have mixed thoughts about this – I would wear most of these items because they look comfy and quietly stylish, but I would equally not wear any of them because I doubt they would look good on my body with its curves and woman parts on it.

It begs the question – what is clothing being “gender neutral” actually getting at?

It seems that in most cases gender neutrality means that the clothes have no hint of traditional femininity, instead opting for masculine styles. Basically, it’s showing that women’s clothing can be worn by women, but men’s clothing can be worn by both sexes.

There is no sign of a gender neutral dress, or skirt, for example.

Then there’s the colours they have used. They are all very muted, which is fine, very easy to wear, love it. But part of me couldn’t help but think that overall it looks very much like the casual wear of a prison inmate on Orange is the New Black.

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There’s room for improvement for sure, but at least it’s the beginnings of gender fluidity in mainstream fashion – and that can’t be a bad thing at all.

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