The Sunday Telegraph - Stella
It’s time to reintroduce structure to our wardrobes – and hopefully life will follow suit
A jacket is required for Lisa Armstrong ’s postlockdown wardrobe
THE OTHER DAY I wore a jacket. Normally this would be unremarkable. Pre-lockdown I wore a blazer most days. But for the past 12 months they’ve been missing in action from my life, not least because there wasn’t a lot of action generally.
There has been plenty of work, though: sitting at a desk, looking at a screen; sitting on the sofa, looking at a screen… None of it seemed particularly compatible with a jacket. I’ve worn smart cardigans, smart jumpers, colourful blouses galore. But tailoring hasn’t really featured.
Tomorrow that all ends. I want sleek. I want pulled together. I want a decisive break with the past year. I’m not giving up on comfort, but right now I’m craving structure, definition and an outline that at least makes me feel, if not look, like a fashion illustration – a few more angles and a little less blur.
I don’t think I’m alone. Blazer sales plummeted into a seeming bottomless pit during the past year, but last month Me+Em, a good bellwether for Stella readers, introduced trouser suits in hot pink and emerald green. The pink one features an actual drawstring waist on the trousers, but both have that slouchyslick combination of just enough tailoring and just enough sportiness to seem like a really pragmatic, intelligent style solution.
Hugo Boss is very excited about its new collection of hybrid athleisure-tailored suits. Think tailoring traditions – from tuxedos to ultra-sharp lapels – but reworked in jersey. The reason they’re bothering is because, despite everything that’s been thrown at it lately, tailoring’s mounting a strong comeback.
You could put a decent hybrid look together yourself – Whistles has been selling jersey blazers for a while and continues to reissue them in different colours. A soft jacket, with a bit of give in the construction or fabric, is all it takes really. Add some smart jeans. Ring the changes by wearing your tweed jacket with a lacy camisole or broderie anglaise. Or, if you dare, just a bra. I like the Passionate crop top by Perff Studio – it’s a great cut with lots of coverage (£60, perff.com).
My reintroduction to tailoring was an old pink-corduroy blazer from Boden. Cord, like denim, is one of those materials that gets better with wear. If you have any jackets languishing in your wardrobe, now’s the moment to rehabilitate them. And if not, what a fine excuse to go shopping.
I want sleek. I want pulled together. I want a decisive break with the past year
Try some oxytocin-spiking colour – Paul Smith is excellent for this. Or a pattern. Checks or stripes, worn with a toning pair of plain trousers, is a chic alternative to a head-to-toe plain look, and much easier to wear than head-to-toe pattern. A chore jacket, aka a workwear jacket, is a good layering option, especially if you contrast its ruggedness with something soft in silk or cashmere. The new relaxed-smart mood calls for a bit of playfulness – quilting, patchwork, texture. A jacket can be cropped, belted, shiny or fluffy, Madame-y, Chanel-esque or oversized and borrowed from the menswear department. All that matters is that it has shape and makes you feel ready to face the world.