I am not one to follow trends. I am not breathless about what is shown at London Fashion Week, or the latest looks from Philip Lim or Victoria Beckham. I don’t have a subscription to Vogue and much of my interest in clothes is informed by my interest in either politics or the world of work. But I do keep my eye on trends and fashion which I find endlessly fascinating for what they tell us, as well as for the inspiration they provide. My all time favourite blog is from Anne of Pretty Grievances , especially her weekly Wearable Wednesday features. Where of course she features the totally unwearable and sends up the latest ridiculous fashions with the most hilarious, knowing, irreverent commentary. Long may she continue (and I hope she brings out a book of it all one day).
However over the last few weeks I have been noticing one trend which I have found both interesting and inspirational. The return of the pant suit. I feel the designers (like a few of the TV series writers) had been assuming a Lady President would be in charge of free world by now. In their mind (a few months ago) they were designing for female power even if the election results were unexpected.
I have been looking at some of the designs on show at New York fashion week in particular and noticed a few trends that may be of interest to those of us who make our own clothes.
Colourful Pant Suits
Of course Mrs Clinton has made the colourful pant suit her own, and finally it has moved from parody to mainstream. Personally I like wearing colourful trousers which I regularly twin with a sober shirt-type blouse or a navy or grey jacket. I think this looks fresher than dark trousers with a colourful jacket, but that can work well too. Of course the cat-walk models usually pair a pant suit with a push up bra, but I wouldn’t do that. Especially if you have the habit of taking off the jacket as the meeting room warms up.
I am really attracted to the delicious red pant suit at Altazurra – the lovely wide lapels, elegant princess line, the interesting sleeves and maybe even the shortish trousers. But the thing I like the best is the belt, or rather the ribbon, tied across the waist making the suit very feminine and modern.
A second Clintonesque offering is the pink suit. I have picked this one, from Phillip Lim, as it demonstrates the wider look that is catching on. Pleated trousers! I tried a pair of these (from M&S last year) and actually found them wearable and quite attractive. The key, I think, is to use the belt to pull them in at the top and to wear a close fitting blouse like the model here. You have to leave the jacket open, otherwise you might look like you are wearing a clown suit. These trousers are worn long, skimming the floor, and high (above the waist) to create as long a leg as possible.
Here is another version of the belted, tailored jacket. The whole suit is voluminous with long, long sleeves, with interesting button detailing, and long, long pants. So the wide belt makes it really work effectively. I also really like the navy shirt with cravat.
Some of the pant suits on display were made in what my father used to refer to as “loud” – Menswear fabrics with an obvious weave, a large or colourful check or shiny fabrics. I think these are very hard to wear as they usually make the wearer look much bigger. I am finding the wider lapels very fresh and interesting with wide but still natural shoulders. Although this model is probably very slim (US s0) and usually tall she looks like a s14 in this double-breasted, plaid suit. Having said that I really like the masculine styling and in a plain colour I think it is a wearable outfit.
Acceptable work wear
The remaining suits are really wearable, and office appropriate, in my view. They are just nicely made, conservative but stylish suits that would look up to the minute and smart for a senior politician, manager or business woman. Maybe the styling is a bit odd, but I think any of these suits would be very suitable as well as comfortable and versatile. Would you wear any of them? I like the Jason Wu best myself.
Since working hard on a men’s suit jacket I feel I could actually make myself a nice trouser suit. Having had a look around at Burda and Vogue there is nothing current to match any of these looks. The best, to my mind, are vintage patterns. Have a look at McQueen’s Vogue Paris Original 2467, and 1970s Yves Saint Laurent Vogue Paris Original 1143 – Stephanie’s favourite.
Any other suggestions?