Menswear-borrowed elements you can cop for your style
When Diane Keaton played a character who dressed androgynously in Annie Hall, wearing clothes that are mostly borrowed from the men’s section, she pretty much typified a trend in menswear-inspired fashion for women that has been around for a very long time. Keaton was not the only prominent female character who brought this trend to mainstream or even global attention.
In 2008, the year after she was crowned Miss Universe, Riyo Mori walked down the stage for her farewell walk wearing a tailored tuxedo. It was pretty much a first in the pageant’s long history of beauty queens making their way down the stage in glitzy ball gowns. Much more recently, Emma Stone handed out the Academy Award in the Best Actor category wearing a silk Louis Vuitton suit. Years before, in 2015, she walked the Golden Globes red carpet in a Lanvin jumpsuit. Such is the case with Julia Roberts who appeared in a striped jumpsuit alongside George Clooney for the Cannes Film Festival red carpet.
Menswear-inspired female fashion has long been an enduring trend. Long before bloggers or Instagram-famous influencers had made it into a “theme” for their OOTDs, borrowing from the boys has been entrenched in the art and business of fashion. It was retail giant Abercrombie & Fitch who revolutionized the business of outdoor fashion when it sold khakis and leather bomber jackets both for men and women. After it launched its line for men in 1892, the retailer became the first to sell men’s and women’s fashion side by side in 1910. This is when other brands followed suit and made items men wore, available to female consumers.
In a 2010 Forbes report, Italian-owned Brooks Brothers said womenswear account for more than 20 percent of the company’s sales.
For CEO Claudio Del Vecchio, that is more than expected for a brand that is targeted mainly at the male demographic. Decades before it launched its female line in 1949, the company has noticed women shopping for themselves in the men’s section and even with an existing dedicated womenswear line, Brooks Brothers still has a market for women who go for items they see in the clothing racks of the men’s department.
The same case happened for Sir Paul Smith, who started designing for women in 1996, recognizing the fact that women have been buying his designs in smaller sizes. Then came his collection of tailored hunting jackets, oversized tweed overcoats and cuffed trousers for women buyers.
Menswear-inspired fashion doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to line up and purchase items from the men’s section (which you can do, by the way). Today, elements in female fashion choices obviously reference items and trends that can be seen in the men’s department. It’s all about proportions and contrast, down to materials and design that womenswear has adapted through the years.
The boyfriend shirt and the boyfriend jeans are terms that refer to a more relaxed look women don, like literally grabbing a shirt and denim pants from your boyfriend’s closet. The fit, of course, appears looser and easy and always works well by playing with proportions, e. g. wearing a more form-fitting bottom.
Coverups, from riders’ jackets, bomber jackets, to oversized cardigans and pullovers are also go-to selections if you want to amp up your menswear-inspired look. A soft, flowy dress, paired with a varsity jacket could immediately be transformed and the end-result is always playful and edgy.
Shoes that break away from the normal heels and flats women are accustomed to are also available. Men’s dress shoes from oxfords, to brogues, add laidback, boyish charm to your sartorial selection. They can be paired with a well-tailored suit and even with a summer dress.
From reconstructed shirts for street style chic to power suiting that is often seen among female execs and even politicians. This goes to show that the resurgence of this gender-bending direction women’s fashion is treading is here to stay.