Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to do menswear for women


Menswear means comfort, tailoring, and an average better quality than the one reserved for womenswear.
As you may know, men hate being uncomfortable, and most also hate going shopping frequently, so designers keep that in mind when thinking about their clothes. And I have yet to see a man that considers, even for a second, buying or wearing shoes in which he is not absolutely comfortable. It's just unthinkable for them. I think women could and should benefit from this point of view.

Women wearing menswear: a social conquest

Accessing the relative comfort of menswear can be considered a social conquest that came together with entering the labour market during and after WWII.
In that spirit, menswear for women goes for the same objectives as men's: comfort, tailoring, and quality. It doesn't mean women wearing men's clothes or women looking like they are: the style is tailored and figure-skimming, not over sized and/or baggy, and accessories are mostly "feminine", which stand out all the more because of the "masculinity" of the other pieces. Think Diane Keaton's style crossed with Ellen DeGeneres'.
This is all, obviously, a matter of cultural parametres (what is "masculine", what is "feminine"?), and individual perception. There may be written rules about it, but women and men go about changing them every day.

Quirky menswear - Mixing dots, tweed, and plaid.
I have selected for this set a collection of vintage pins, which make for unexpected, original accessories. In this case, it's badges (originally for caps) from the American Women's Voluntary Service, the UK's Women's  Land Army, and the Women's Institute from the 1940s or 1950s, bought on eBay.co.uk. The background is made of posters from the WWW2.
Styling tips for women's menswear:
  • Tailored pieces: trouser suits, blazers, and trousers with a perfect crease (which, by the way, makes legs look longer). 
  • Menswear inspired shoes, which tend to be much more comfortable than traditional women's styles: Oxford, Derby, Monk, and lately, the dress boot..
  • Trench coats, which were a men's only, military garment for decades before becoming part of women's wardrobes.
  • Hats: trilbies, fedoras, tweed caps... 
  • Handbags to carry across the body and other no-nonsense styles.
  • Cardigans and vests.
  • Feminine pieces such as blouses, mixed with the previous, achieve that balancing act.
  • Finally, feminine jewellery, for the same reason.

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