A long-haired brunette model sits against a stark white back drop, staring away from the camera disinterestedly as she tries to look natural in some oversized sweater, or beat up OCBD. I can’t say how original of an idea it is at the point, but this concept of “dressing like the boys” has become a pretty common sight throughout whatever look-books or ads are being released on any given month. There’s even been the memorable incidents of women walking during runway shows for Umit Benan and Michael Bastian (complete with nip-slip.) For as much as the bleeding over of women into menswear is accepted, and even embraced by twenty-something bloggers who seem to be in a constant search for a girl that they could just share their cable-knits with, the flip side of this coin is rarely seen.
Now, I’m not saying that I want to see men in womenswear campaigns, but I would say it’s time that we start to at least pay attention to womenswear. There’s only so many days that I can spend flipping through tumblr and menswear blogs before everything begins to feel stale. I love how slow-moving traditional menswear is in contrast to high fashion, but there are times where I feel like I’m simply looking at the same series of old Italian guys and classic Hollywood stars, over and over again. Womenswear has always felt a bit flighty to me, as the designs seem to stem from impulse rather than practicality, but I have to say that womenswear can be a lot more interesting. I think it’s great that the menswear blogosphere works to constantly discover and pull from new places, but I do fear that if every idea, or collection, in menswear is at our disposal at any given time, then there’s no longer any opportunity to make us think about things differently. Capital F fashion designers appear far more willing to challenge expectations than what we’re used to over here in menswear, and there’s a lot be learned from that attitude.
(More) Club Collars
As you could have probably guessed, most of the womenswear collections I’ll be talking about are heavily menswear inspired, and this is no more evident than with the club collar. It’s a detail that womenswear borrowed from menswear, but they’ve now come to lead the club collar market, utilizing it in their collections far more often than men do. Ralph Lauren in particular relies on it heavily for his women’s shirts, but shies away from it when it comes to menswear. The issue with the club collar is that it can come off as soft, but that also means that it strikes a comfortable midpoint between the cutaway collar’s current domination of the game and the button-down’s unflappable status as a legend.
When it comes to topcoats men either go for a solid (yet textured) dark navy, black, or brown or they choose a coat in a windowpane or similar checked pattern from Italian brands like Isaia that are renowned for these fabrics. Céline’s womenswear collection proposes another idea, that of the matte topcoat. The brighter tones bring down the texture of the topcoat which gives the impression of a flatter base that in turn helps to balance out the louder color. I’d have to say that the yellow-orange tone that Celine uses is a bit too intense, but a french blue or a rich red topcoat could work appropriately.
Yet another detail that came from menswear but has now been more widely accepted by women, hacking pockets work to both contrast and compliment the lines of a jacket and no one does this better than Margaret Howell. Yet, it’s her use of hacking pockets on casual trousers that I find most interesting. Hacking pocket trousers (also known as fish-mouth pocket trousers) are one of those ideas that I just wish more brands would work into their collections. I’ve always found it funny how men were so quick to adopt the cargo pocket, but no one has really experimented with hacking pockets yet, at least not to the extent that Howell has.