this season, one has to admit, as the gloves come off, the suit goes on…
I had cause to impress people recently. An important meeting that warranted a phone call to Mum asking ‘What should I wear?’
‘A suit’ she replied, without hesitation. My Mum, from the worlds of law and education, is a big fan of a tailored, black suit, preferably teamed with court shoes, neat hair and clean, rounded nails. We fell out over one of my interview outfits once. I was headed to the office of a major women’s magazine and, knowing the fashion world’s appreciation of artfully undone looks, had gone for a roll neck jumper with leather skirt, trainers and decidedly ‘French’ hair.
‘What are you going to do with your hair?’ she asked, deliberately.
‘Nothing’, I shrugged with a mouth full of Bran Flakes.
‘It’s a mess.’
‘It’s effortless. French.’
‘You’re not French.’
‘I got an A* in French though, that’s got to count for something.’
‘Wear some heels at least.’
‘I can’t wear heels with a leather skirt.’
‘Then don’t wear a leather skirt.’
This went on a while. Hint: She wanted me to wear a suit.
Power dressing for women is a kind of divisive issue. Some, like my Mum, think of the suit as the ultimate workwear choice; the uniform of a woman who means business. To others, they’re stuffy, dull and far too impersonal. The political landscape has seen a strong response from the fashion world for the past few seasons. Feminist slogan tees, millennial pink and unashamedly womanly feathers and embroidery scream girl power. With a new wave of feminism comes a varied world of fashion choices. Leopard coats to interviews. Red blazers to brunch. It’s nothing new. In times of strife, the fashion world often becomes a place for female expression—mini skirts, everyone!—but this season one has to admit, as the gloves come off, the suit goes on.
Wasp waisted in heritage checks or round shouldered with effortless draping; the runways had it all. And you can scarcely find a best dressed list or red carpet ungraced by the likes of Emma Watson, Cate Blanchett and Solange Knowles in statement tailored suiting. Looking for a way to update your wardrobe? It may be time to find out just how to wear a suit…
The ‘Yes Mum, fine. I’ll wear a suit to work’ Suit
Channel the no-nonsense vibe of women in power with a coloured pantsuit this summer. Gone are the glamourous days of Dynasty’s burlesque suiting—sadly, to be honest. Joan Collins is a goddess—instead opt for contemporary cuts in on trend colours like icy grey for a cool look that will play nicely with sharp metallic accessories.
The ‘Actually this is kind of growing on me’ Suit
You might find it hard to believe, but casual, off duty suits are a real and thriving thing. With a relaxed fit, shawl collar and crinkle seersucker finish, this suit is ideal for achieving a sporty, boyish look. Add in white trainers, a tucked tee and tousled ‘French’ hair—just for you, Mum—and you’re on to a winner.
The ‘So, I’ve started wearing suits at the weekend’ Suit
Oversized and slouchy may not be what you want to hear when talking tailoring, but Diane Keaton built a career on this kind of nonchalance. Inspired as she was by the ‘cool looking women on the streets of SoHo’ in the 70s, update this blowsy style with sandals and satin before hitting bars and bookshops.
The ‘I’m basically Lauren Bacall at this point’ Suit
A feminine silhouette in slinky grey silk blend begs for dimly lit evenings and tumblers of single malt whisky. Pair with v-vamp spike heels and dare to go bare underneath for wolf whistles galore. ‘You do know how to whistle, don’t you?’
The ‘Do you have a few minutes to talk about suits?’ Suit
Flowing linen says you’ve graduated from the school of suits. Slipped into the groove of uniform style dressing. You’re basically canvassing all of your girlfriends on the virtues of matchy-matchy style and stop in the street to compliment women in bold co-ords. You wear full ivory suits with loafers and slogan tees and feel busy and important in the queue at Pret. You’ve made it.
By Josie Johnson