SUITED AND BOOTED…

Dolce & Gabbana AW11.

From sharp tailored suits to loose fitting jumpers and trousers, this would be the season to add some masculine attitude to your wardrobe…

Sartorial elegance, and the swagger of the male bravado transformed the autumn/ winter catwalks. Trousers looser, jackets barely grazing the shoulder and flats replacing toe-biting heels, the feminine silhouette has most definitely been redefined. Add in some barely-there make-up, and Grease is the word hair, and you are left with one handsome looking female.

Dolce & Gabbana set the standard by embracing calf length shorts, buttoned up shirts and oversized tux jackets, topped off with a gentlemanly tie and trilby or waxed up quiff. There was also a hint of yesteryear drawing inspiration from the 1930s zoot suit, long coats of Italian gangsters – don’t forget the cigar, and all over sequin numbers that rang true to the days of David Bowie. The fabrics of choice were pin stripe, herringbone and poplin, which added a classic luxury to the pieces and overall look.

Dolce & Gabbana AW11.

Proportions were exaggerated at Stella McCartney, and Chanel too. Stella added a feminine touch to minimalist dressing in a palette of rose pink, camel and navy, while Chanel cast a dark shadow with heavy-handed fabrics, boiler suits and work boots, bringing a tough rough attitude to the runway. Both opted for greased back buns for their hairstyle of choice.

Stella AW11.

Chanel AW11.

Katherine Ormerod, fashion and beauty editor at trend forecasting company Stylus says: “Androgyny has been huge over the last few seasons, mainly because of the growing appeal and improvement in menswear design. It is a trend that is culturally inspired by everyday life such as women wearing their boyfriend’s clothes as well.”

Menswear designer Tim Soar has just launched his first womenswear collection for autumn/ winter 11, aptly named HIM/SHE. The pieces are heavily influenced by his work in masculine tailoring, and include a grey wool overcoat, piped trousers, loose fitted blouses and a black silk and jersey dress. Every design has been effortlessly adapted for women to recreate the same luxurious appeal of tailoring found on Bond Street or Savile Row.

Soar says: “It was very clear that there was something in the air about womenswear referencing menswear. Many of the looks in the collection are completely mirrored in the men and women’s pieces. Woman’s tailoring is cut close to the hourglass figure and can feel old fashioned. It’s fresher and feels modern to have them off the body.”

J.W Anderson, another menswear designer also moved into womenswear for the first time last year. Similarly to Soar his recent autumn/ winter 11 line is made up of blazers and cigarette pants, and leather bomber and varsity jackets. Again all pieces that are characteristic of designs for men, but are made suitable for women.

J.W Anderson AW11.

This sort of masculine tailoring could easily be considered as the updated version of the eighties power dressing trend, with over-sized Dynasty shoulder pads reinvented and given a modern twist. Still drawing inspiration from men’s suits, but bringing a relaxed, laid-back and comfortable feel to the look. Just as glamorous up-dos, smokey eyes and devil red lips have been put to the back of the makeup palette in favour of a simple foundation, mascara and gloss.

Lindsey Anderson, fashion news editor from fashion blog myfashionlife.com says: “The cleaner, simpler cuts of today make the androgynous trend far more effective and discreet.”

These paired back pieces have been growing in popularity over the years, triggering a new wave of super cool labels. American menswear label Band of Outsiders was launched in 2004, and took inspiration from the preppy styles of the 70s and 80s. It wasn’t long before women were craving the Oxford worthy blazers and shirts for themselves, leading designer Scott Sternberg to launch a women’s line called Boy. in 2008.

Boy. by Band of Outsiders SS11.

Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst are also fans of the label. Williams modelled for Boy. in 2008, and Dunst has recently fronted the spring line, which tells us a lot about the sort of girl that invests in these tailored pieces – a tomboy. Both actresses are extremely low maintenance and laid-back in their personal style, with natural wavy locks and simple make-up.

Leighton Meester wears the tailoring trend well too, turning up at the Gotham Independent Film Awards in November last year in a Thom Browne suit. True to the trend Meester went for the customary relaxed hairstyling and make-up to complete the look.

Leighton Meester in Thom Browne at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Another label that champions tailoring for both sexes is Parisian brand The Kooples. Brothers Alexandre, Raphael and Laurent worked with Norton & Sons back in 2007, and admired both the pattern cutting and construction of the tailored pieces. When they started up the label in 2008, they returned to Patrick Grant the owner, and his team to help with the pattern design and materials for their pieces. From shirts, and jackets to shorts every women’s piece is on par with the men’s. In fact, even The Kooples couples in the advertising campaign look the same, highlighting its gender interchangeable style.

Sally Archwright, journalist and tailoring enthusiast says: “Mannish pieces are great for the workplace, they are very smart but also comfortable. Luxurious tailoring has been available to men for a long time, its great that women can now invest in it as well.”

Tilly Macalister-Smith, fashion coordinator at Vogue adds: “It is a very easy trend to adopt. I love wearing my Stella oversized blazer with a mid calf length boxy dress, it’s a trend I have a real affinity with.”

However, despite the trend drawing on influences from men’s design, there are two ways you could style it. You could go all out masculine like Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel, in head to toe male separates. Or if you wanted to add a more elegant touch like Stella, you could just as easily opt for pieces in pastel colours and mix ‘n’ match your regular wardrobe with mannish classics.

Ormerod says: “Thick eyebrows, slicked backed or unkempt hair will instantly give you that boyish look, but a broad shouldered jacket with a dress is a little more feminine and just as on trend.”

Anderson adds: “Androgyny can still be girly, as long as you keep it simple and don’t go overboard – after all, women have always looked sexy in men’s clothes.”

Fx

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