Androgeny heights

Trouser suits are back in vogue, but power dressing no longer needs to be overwhelmingly masculine

Sat, Aug 23, 2014, 01:00

It takes Angelina Jolie wearing a tuxedo to the Baftas – an antidote to the red carpet gown – for the trend to follow suit and put androgyny back on the fashion map. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that trouser-suit sales have jumped by 157 per cent, according to Debenhams.

The trend has been triggered by designers such as Stella McCartney, The Row, Hermès and a host of others for winter 2014. McCartney’s silk versions, The Row’s sharp tailoring and Hermès’s more oversize, languid looks are new interpretations of the familiar theme. For those who have had enough of dresses, can’t face a 1960s revival, are bored by too much print and detest split midis, a suit can be just the ticket for a winter buy.

Dressing “like a man” is a meaningless phrase these days, when ideas of masculine and feminine are fluid, when everybody wears the same – parkas, jeans, runners, city shorts – although the Marc Jacobs skirts for men have yet to be widely copied. Concepts of hard and soft dressing are common to both sexes, an indication of how fashion has always been obsessed with gender identity and fascinated by crossover attire. At a time when younger men wear more colour, skinnier clothes and aren’t afraid of handbags, the tomboy look is easy for women to copy – with the added frisson of high heels, chunky sandals or flats. Nothing too blokeish, mind you – and certainly no ties.

Women who dress for power have always dressed in clothes associated with male authority – sharp-shouldered dark suits and military coats, but with subtle differences. It reached extremes in the 1980s when baseball shoulders and bouffant hairstyles underscored the fact that women were squaring up to new responsibilities – that look seems tragic now. But it’s only two years since Phoebe Philo at Celine put trousers under dresses, and as this shoot shows, a full skirt under a mannish jacket can look so of-the-moment today. Sometimes power can be conveyed with accessories – chunky leather boots, punk jewellery, dark as night shades – and slicked back hair.

The high-street chains, Zara, H&M and Penneys, are full of skinny and crop trousers, slope-shouldered coats and Crombies, with some animal print still livening things up – and tuxedos, of course. Here’s how to put it together.

Photography: Anita Sadowska (anitasadowska.com)
Model: Aga @ lst Option Models
Styling: Carmel Ann Daly (dalystyling.com)
Make-up: Roy Wong (roywong.com)
Hair: Glen Cullen (glencullenhair.com)

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