MEET THE NEW POWER PLAYER
PRIM, PROPER AND POLISHED, the skirt suit is the pinnacle of effortful dressing. Suggesting taut togetherness rather than slapdash spontaneity, it’s no surprise that the tailored two-pieces are traditionally worn by the kind of woman whose hair is always blow-dried and tights never laddered. They are boardroom armour and the uniform of manicured ladies who lunch – but can a skirt suit ever really be cool? Absolutely!
This spring, designers are taking the skirt suit out-of-office. And it’s resonating: global fashion search platform Lyst reports searches for skirt suits are up 33%, driven by their emerging popularity among the kind of Millennial It girls who’ve never stepped near a 9-5 (see Margot Robbie and Bella Hadid). ‘ The skirt suit represents the next step of the tailoring trend,’ says Net-a-porter retail fashion director Lisa Aiken. ‘ We used to think of it as being conservative and a bit stiff, but when brands like Off-white are doing it, it really changes the game’.
To make the new suit work, cut is key. The stiletto-sharp silhouettes favoured by aficionados Melania Trump and Queen Letizia of Spain are out; miniskirts and oversized jackets are in. Wear with the same ease you would jeans and a tee, and opt for an undone or unexpected detail to subvert the coordination. Swap a blouse for a cropped top, or slingbacks for graphic mules. Even Chanel – the spiritual home of the society skirt suit – is at it: fraying the edges and trading strings of pearls for outré plastic accessories for S/S ’18.
That’s not to say you should shy away from amplifying those late ’80s/early ’90s connotations. At Versace, sugary pastel suits were worn with gold chain belts and baseball caps. And at Off-white’s Princess Diana tribute, a candy two-piece was worn with socks and Working Girl trainers. In the real world, team with sheer tights or preppy knits for an unapologetic, go-all-in spin. Paradoxically, when designer jeans come with holes, there’s something modern about wholeheartedly doing a neat look. After all, if you’re going to wear this most proper pairing, why not wear it, well, properly?
Jacket, £69, skirt, £39, Topshop (topshop.com)