1. Icon of the Week: The Tuxedo Suit

    Posted by Claudia Low on December 15, 2010

    There are days you might wish you had it as easy as a guy – to have staples in shorts and a t-shirt, to find smart casual in a polo shirt, and formal wear in a suit. On those days, celebrate your options. One thing I’ll always appreciate about women’s fashion is that we have it as a norm to switch from feminine silhouettes to streamlined shapes; that borrowing masculine items doesn’t necessarily equate to making a statement. Let’s instead celebrate the fact that we have the option to “wear the pants”. Here’s to the tux!

    Many are under the impression that Yves Saint Laurent invented the tuxedo for women. That isn’t exactly true. Marlene Dietrich wore this tuxedo in the film Morocco first in 1928.

    In fact, Josephine Baker, Katharine Hepburn, Anna May Wong and Gloria Swanson suited up circa the 1920s – 1940s too…

    As did Edith Head and Coco Chanel in the ’50s.

    What YSL did, however, was to take it from a provocation to turn it into a sophisticated alternative to the evening gown. In 1966, YSL created the Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women, the first of its kind to be commercially pret-a-porter. It pioneered streamlined minimalist androgynous styles for women, as well as encourage the everyday usage of power suits.

    Le Smoking was popularized with Helmut Newton’s shots of models with slicked-back hair in the three-piece suit. Perhaps because they were also always literally smoking, these models were a vision of masculine strength. It was said to have empowered women by giving them the option to dress with influence and power. While it pretty much sucked for the emasculated man who had to admit that his wife wore the pants in their relationship too, things were looking up for feminine empowerment.

    The best part, was that it wasn’t a mere fashion statement. Le Smoking was designed and cut to follow a woman’s curve and emphasize sex appeal over looking sharp. It most importantly highlighted femininity.

    What YSL did was make the tuxedo suit and power pant a staple.

    YSL continues to churn out several tuxedo designs every season.

    1966, 2002, 2006, 2010

    Over the years, the suit continued to crop up into popular culture. You’ll see how it always fits the woman who wearing it. It’s no longer a gender provocation; it has become an individual statement.

    Annie Hall (1977)

    First Wives Club (1996)

    Mr & Mrs Smith (2005)

    Coco Avant Chanel (2009)

    Here’s how Hollywood wears the suit these days.

    Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, Vanessa Traina, Ashley Olsen, Hilary Swank

    Kate Moss, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Aniston

    Kirsten Dunst, Alexa Chung, Charlize Theron, Rihanna, Dasha Zhukova

    But really, the go-to person for inspiration these days is Janelle Monae.

    One way to wear the suit is to swap the blazer for a cardigan – darling! Another fresh twist would be to throw a little leather into the mix. If you find streamline a tad severe, soften the look with feminine accents. If you find it a little too formal, show more skin! The wonderful thing about the tuxedo suit is that it has so many elements to it – the shirt, vest, bow tie, suspenders, blazer, cummerbund and the bottoms. Play around with it’s versatility!

    I’ll admit I got pretty excited researching this post – so I threw in what you can look forward to this coming Resort 2011! While the suit is undoubtedly a conventional staple already, it looks like it’s going to go all out next year. Designers have already started initiating the trend – the best part is, there’s a suit to cater to almost every style!

    Balenciaga

    Dsquared2

    Marc Jacobs & Marc by Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Wang

    Stella McCartney

    Rag & Bone

    Yves Saint Laurent

    What do you think of the tuxedo suit? Are you looking forward to it’s trend comeback next year?

     

     

    [Photo Credits: styleclone, fashionising, beauty-and-the-bath, makeupmakesmehappy, celebrityclothes, shoppingandinfo, cbc, incityfashion, entertainmentwisemizposh,  swingfashionista, luxist, graememitchell, flingly, zimbio, bakati, nationmultimedia, fashionmonster, style]

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