Saturday 21 July 2018

How to wear... the skirt suit

The humble two-piece is making a return just in time for the warmer months, writes Meadhbh McGrath

This season, Chanel presented boxy skirt suits in charcoal, as seen on Margot Robbie. Photo: Getty Images
This season, Chanel presented boxy skirt suits in charcoal, as seen on Margot Robbie. Photo: Getty Images

Meadhbh McGrath

The revival of the trouser suit has been a major talking point in the fashion world in the last year, but also staging a more low-key comeback is the skirt suit.

The two-piece was made famous by Coco Chanel, who debuted the first iteration of her iconic Chanel suit in 1925. Rendered in wool tweed with braid trim, it consisted of a cardigan jacket and a mid-length straight skirt. Unlike other skirt suits of the time, it did away with padded shoulders, corsets and restrictively tight skirts and sleeves, offering women greater freedom of movement.

The Chanel suit quickly became one of the world's most recognisable and beloved silhouettes as a refined look that worked just as well for day or evening. Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of the Parisian fashion house for the last 35 years, will always include a version of the suit in his collections, whether by rendering the two-piece in denim in 1991 and in acid-bright colour in 1994 or swapping the skirt for hot pants in 2011 and maxi length skirts in 2015.

This season, Chanel presented boxy skirt suits in charcoal (as seen on Margot Robbie), white and mint, styled with transparent knee-high boots and bucket hats. Lagerfeld injected new life into the shape, stripping it down to a clean, pared-back look that showcases the sharp lines and broad shoulders of the suit.

At cult label Off-White, fashion's latest superstar Virgil Abloh paid tribute to Princess Diana with collarless power suits in baby blue and pink, paired with white socks and trainers for a touch of the 80s working girl.

Elsewhere in Paris, French label Louis Vuitton created boxy skirt suits with a military edge and metallic buttons.

Celebrities love the Parisian elegance of the look, including French First Lady Brigitte Macron, who wore a Vuitton design to the G7 Summit in Italy. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Celebrities love the Parisian elegance of the look, including French First Lady Brigitte Macron, who wore a Vuitton design to the G7 Summit in Italy. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Celebrities love the Parisian elegance of the look, including French First Lady Brigitte Macron, who wore a Vuitton design to the G7 Summit in Italy, and actress Lea Seydoux, who balanced her jacket nonchalantly off-the-shoulder at a recent film premiere.

That particular styling trick should be left to the ingenues, but otherwise the skirt suit is easy to wear and far more versatile than you might think - plus it makes a savvy transitional piece as the temperatures start to rise.

If you're anxious about looking fusty, liven up a suit with statement earrings or a colourful pair of trainers, a simple way to resurrect an old suit hanging in the back of the wardrobe.

And don't be scared of longer lengths, particularly side-slit options like Bershka's polka dots or a mismatched pleated A-line skirt like Whistle's slinky check set.

COS, meanwhile, has a boxy style similar to Margot Robbie's Chanel suit, but with a far more wearable knee-length skirt to match.

For workwear, skip the white socks and go modern with a pair of flattering pointed white ankle boots. And steer clear of the 'ladies who lunch' trap by swapping out fussy shirts and blouses for a polo neck or a white T-shirt, which instantly looks fresh and modern.

Irish Independent

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