Gender-neutral tailoring: Girls will be boys
Fashion editor Bairbre Power looks at gender-neutral tailoring and the rush to borrow styles from the boys
I like Coco Chanel for more than her perfume. She was a courageous fashion innovator who broke rules with aplomb, and today we are reaping the rewards for her ballsy attitude and passion for mannish dressing.
Looking down on the boyish styles emanating from the Chanel atelier, and right across the couture catwalk this season, Madamoiselle Chanel would, I suspect, manage a half-smile at how things have panned out. Ninety years ago, she raised Parisian eyebrows for daring to wear trousers and masculine tops, but in 2011, appreciation for mannish tailoring has pushed the androgyny to the forefront of Autumn-Winter trends.
Girls have borrowed enthusiastically from men's wardrobes for years, enjoying the aesthetics and the architecture of wide shoulders. The boyfriend jacket and tux suit has been a real favourite of late, but as gender bending grows, girls and boys are reaching for the same basics: brogues, spats, waistcoats and big watches along with aviator jackets and aviator sunnies.
This season, the girlies will be working the mannish look head to tie, working the felt fedoras with atitude, tying down their look with ties and giving three piece suits a polished treatment with silk scarves tied with a flourish. Very Oscar Wilde.
Yes indeed, with boys in tight, skinny denims and girls in boyfriend jeans, the fashion lines are blurring all the way to unisex underwear and swimwear.
This season, Donna Karan eulogised the dandy's A-line frock coat with deep grey revers and pockets. Dolce & Gabbana did a gloriously rich, black velvet tux with satin revers and jacquard double-breasted jackets with knee shorts, socks and brogues . It had all the overtones of a well-dressed Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas
It is possible to embrace the andrognous trend without looking like a cross dresser. Look to Stella McCartney, who explored gender-neutral and did it handsomely with luxurious, pale pastel suits with stronger shoulders that would leave Sue Ellen's lip quivering .
The secret is to borrow from the boys with a feminine twist. A case in point was McCartney's sexyily structured silhouette, working wide, exaggerated shoulders with pencil-thin trousers.
The two created a strong, inverted triangle and stamp your femininity over the outfit with high-viz heels.
On the high street, M&S delivered some masculine proportions, including a wallet-pleasing, red limited Collection jacket for €109.
D Squared introduced braces for its boyish pants for girls, but they really are limited to girls without big boobs and volume on the front.
You could, when he's not looking, borrow his pleated-front, tux shirt or use one of his ties as a belt, as Sir Paul Smith did last season.
For Autumn, he has delivered more quirky, masculine tailoring for women, playing a game of opposites, using sheer blouses with heavy tailored trousers. Strong looks as our images show.
The Kooples, the fashion-forward Parisien label has arrived into Brown Thomas, Dublin after taking London by storm.
The coupley vibe works as a mirror image.
The secret is to double-up this season. Think of it as a cost-efficient way of shopping, when you can both wear the same!