With gender roles continually in flux, it was only a matter of time before the fashion world would reflect this evolution. Laura Warner caught up happily to the "boyfriend" trend in women's clothing and fired off this dispatch from the front lines.
Despite my best efforts to not jump on every fashion bandwagon, I could not resist this look. Recently, my colleagues started to observe "Throwback Thursdays." Every Thursday, our office turns into the set of Mad Men (minus the smoking, drinking and infidelity). The idea is that the gentlemen sport suits, ties, and cuff links; and the ladies, a secretary dress, circa 1960. I, however, take this opportunity to subtly and professionally cross-dress. A uniform consisting of trousers, blouse, suspenders and a tie, is a provocative look without being overt. I do this because, aside from the excitement of dressing up, there was something powerful and sensual about wearing a man’s silk tie (remember a certain scene fromPretty Woman?). While I could drone on about how hot a woman looks with a man’s tie against her skin, for focus sake, I’ll lend some analytically skills to why and how this style emerged. Perhaps an underlying feminist movement, or probably just a little fun, I do suspect that, as with most revolutions, there’s usually a perfect storm of reasons.
|The cast of The L Word|
After poking around the Internet, I realized that maybe it’s not a trend at all. (This usually happens whenever I think I’ve made an ingenious revelation.) A current exhibit titled His & Hers, at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, explores the history of gender-bending clothes dating back to the mid 18th century. For example, the website describes items in their exhibit including men’s suits, from the 1780s to the 1970s, embroidered and velvet (enough said). They also point out masculine influences on women’s suits in the 1920s and 1930s, including heavier fabrics and broader shoulders. The trouser would soon follow in the 1940s. Of course, they also mention the 1980s power suit, as women enter professional culture en masse, the masculine look (not to mention the fitness craze, so women hardly needed the shoulder pads to fill out the jackets). Finding this exhibit led me to a list of designers who have become very successful launching androgynous female lines including Thom Browne and Todd Lynn who specialize in men’s suits, tailored for women’s bodies.
While I will not pack away the stilettos and sun dresses, I very much do enjoy being a boy for at least one day of the week. There is something empowering and liberating about suiting it up. Men’s clothes, tailored for a woman’s body, projects a certain strength and independence. Androgynous dressing is something enjoyed on different levels, by different people for different reasons, and (obviously) for centuries. In anticipation of spring, I scanned the Internet and newsstands for some exciting news: the masculine inspired trend is still evident with the (ever returning) military chic and utilitarian trends. Still there, but the sophistication has slightly waned (we’re going back to those boyfriends). But it was a thrill while it lasted.