Tuesday 16 January 2018

Bairbre Power: who's wearing the pants?

Exploring masculine tailoring softened by feminine touches

Cara Delevingne's narrow-legged choice with Charles Loubutin's 'Toerless' shoes at the Women in World conference.
Cara Delevingne's narrow-legged choice with Charles Loubutin's 'Toerless' shoes at the Women in World conference.
M&S Collection jacket (€140) and matching trouser (€80)
Autograph look of jacket (€120), waistcoat (€65) and trouser (€65) due in M&S shortly.
Zoe Jordan Sparkslane jacket (€740), Luna trousers (€445).
Cresta jacket (€740), Bernadier trousers (€445), zoe-jordan.com

Looking at an impressive line up of fabulously tailored trouser suits online triggered a moment of fashion reflection. Why in the world had I given up buying and wearing trouser suits? The answer was 'work'.

The navy trouser suit - with or without turn-ups, jackets with or without lapels - always teamed with a crisp white shirt or camisole was my work attire for years when I worked in news reporting. The fail-safe suit option gave me professional freedom to cover everything from the courts to Dáil Éireann.

Thankfully the concept of wearing 'anonymous' corporate suiting in a male-dominated work environment has moved on beyond classic black, navy and chalky pinstripes.

Classically boring, set-piece corporate work-wear has been replaced by gloriously attitudinal tailoring which boasts sharp silhouettes softened by feminine flourishes, like a great blouse with long cuffs, to undercut the masculinity which abounds in heritage tailoring. The trouser suit landscape is now far more exciting thanks to modern-day fashion architects like Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham and our own Zoe Jordan. Zoe studied architecture before she went into fashion design and you can see her flair for clean lines and unusual fabrications and textures in her AW15 collection, which is available to buy at Emporium Kalu in Naas and on Zoe's website, zoe-jordan.com.

Zoe's love of tomboyish elegance has become her calling-card, and her latest collection hums with lots of points of difference that sets her apart from rivals on the high street. There's attractive surface detail, like the quilted-effect patches up the side sleeves on the white 'Sparkslane' square-cut jacket. The dramatic white jacket is teamed here with 'Luna' trousers featuring the same quilted patch details on the inside legs. Meanwhile, Zoe's slimline 'Cresta' jacket in black metallic wool features a longline, peak lapel and two flap pockets at front. The matching 'Bernadier' trousers are slim fit, and the look is ideal for those who love a tuxedo suit with a daytime twist.

If you prefer your trouser look worked with a coat, or a waistcoat, there's plenty of suggestions for you in our fashion shoot on the next page.


Modern v heritage

Trouser suits are not for giants - just ask the petite, 5ft 4in Victoria Beckham who is rarely seen out these days out of her black tailored 'pant' suit or her coat variation, with red check across coat and matching trousers. For those who like heritage checks, see the M&S Collection jacket (€140) and matching trouser (€80) with a Twiggy For M&S Collection pussy bow blouse (€47.50) and coat (€135). Meanwhile, those who fancy a three-piece suit with waistcoat à la Nicole should watch out for the Autograph look of jacket (€120), waistcoat (€65) and trouser (€65), due into M&S stores in November.

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