Con­fi­dent women can wear men’s for­mal­wear

Dayton Daily News - - L!FE - By Sa­man­tha Critchell As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW YORK — Hol­i­day par­ties are the best ex­cuse go­ing to wear frilly clothes, but af­ter a while they can seem a lit­tle fussy. The wardrobe an­ti­dote is a sleek, mod­ern, fit­ted tuxedo.

The man-tai­lored suit — usu­ally a jacket with lapel and trousers with a tonal­fab­ric stripe down the leg — can be so­phis­ti­cated and su­per-sexy. Just look at An­gelina Jolie, who wears them reg­u­larly on the red car­pet.

It’s what you wear un­der­neath, from the top down to the at­ti­tude, that makes a dif­fer­ence.

“It’s what gives the woman a lit­tle tai­lored naugh­ti­ness,” says Calvin Klein cre­ative di­rec­tor Fran­cisco Costa. “It’s very sleek. It’s for that kind of woman who re­ally likes to have that spirit — easy in pants, struc­tured shoul­ders. It says some­thing about her: She’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than ev­ery­one else.”

The woman in the tuxedo suit al­ways stands out, Costa says, but not in the way of the woman in a red dress, or some­thing low­cut or sheer. “The idea of equal­ity is bold and rep­re­sents a free­dom. … I think it’s provoca­tive but it also has power to it.”

Mar­lene Di­et­rich sep­a­rated her­self from the red-car­pet pack back in the 1920s and ’30s with a smol­der­ing sig­na­ture suit look, and then Yves Saint Lau­rent rein­tro­duced it to the run­way crowd in the ’60s with his “Le Smok­ing” suit. The tuxedo in some form or an­other — some­times even with a skirt — then be­came a sta­ple of Saint Lau­rent’s col­lec­tions through­out the decades, says Colleen Hill, as­sis­tant cu­ra­tor of The Mu­seum at FIT in New York.

“YSL was an in­flu­en­tial pro­po­nent of women in trousers, in gen­eral,” she ex­plains. “He was the first to make the tuxedo and tuxedo pants a high-fashion, ac­cept­able style. He was of­ten quoted as say­ing women look as good in pants as in a dress.”

One of Saint Lau­rent’s suits, worn and owned by the late model Tina Chow, is in­cluded in the new FIT ex­hibit “His & Hers.”

Hill says its ap­peal is a “hint of scan­dalous­ness.”

A menswear-in­spired sil­hou­ette has the wink ef­fect of a boyfriend shirt or blazer, says de­signer Jill Stu­art. They’re not overtly sex­ual but they ooze an in­ner sen­su­al­ity, she adds.

For her up­com­ing spring col­lec­tion, Stu­art of­fered a white tux, with the flat­ter­ing, elon­gat­ing satin stripe, that had a cropped pant leg. She says that lit­tle bit of leg is a teaser (high heels are a must), and she’ll ei­ther wear a lin­gerie-style camisole or a crisp white shirt un­der­neath “depend­ing where I’m go­ing.”

Costa sug­gests pair­ing the suit with a bustier or Tshirt.

Bergdorf Good­man fashion di­rec­tor Linda Fargo re­cently wore red lip­stick and a long strand of pearls with a Phillip Lim ivory cut­away tux jacket with match­ing tux shorts to a black tie lun­cheon — “and felt great in it,” she says.

“I would ad­vise find­ing a way to ‘make-it your own’ and fem­i­nize it, so as not to look lit­er­ally mas­cu­line,” Fargo says.

She ex­pects to see more women in tuxe­dos next year since many de­sign­ers were in­flu­enced by a Saint Lau­rent ret­ro­spec­tive.

A longer jacket with slim trousers is the most mod­ern pro­por­tion, ac­cord­ing to Stu­art. Chow’s tuxedo from the early ’80s, how­ever, had a high-waist pant and a cropped jacket.

“I don’t know if there’s a par­tic­u­lar style of tuxedo that’s been the most pop­u­lar over time, but a lot seems to de­pend on body type and fit,” says Hill. “I think a lot of women pre­fer a tux that’s been fit­ted for a woman’s body in­stead of a real men’s tuxedo.”

Women have been adapt­ing menswear to suit their style for cen­turies, adds FIT col­league Jen­nifer Far­ley, not­ing dresses from the late 19th cen­tury that had a bodice that mim­icked jacket lapels. Then came ev­ery­thing from Ox­ford shoes to the but­ton-down blouse.

“I think in a lot of ways that menswear tailor­ing is part of wom­enswear now,” Far­ley says. It rarely works the other way, al­though the break­ing of rules — such as a tai­lored jacket with jeans — re­ally got its boost from fashion-for­ward women, she says.

Calvin Klein’s Costa is loose with his def­i­ni­tion of a tuxedo, say­ing it’s a hard look to de­fine be­cause fab­ric, color and fit can vary, but you do know it when you see it.

“It’s like know­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween a day dress and a cock­tail dress,” says Costa. “There usu­ally is a lot of tailor­ing and de­tails — a satin lapel or stripe gives and evening touch. It’s an el­e­vated suit.”

As­so­ci­ated Press file photo

Le­gendary French fashion de­signer Yves Saint Lau­rent (cen­ter), French ac­tress Cather­ine Deneuve (right) and model Laetitia Casta. He was an in­flu­en­tial pro­po­nent of women in trousers and was the first to make the tuxedo and tuxedo pants a high-fashion,...

photo by Gre­go­rio Bor­gia As­so­ci­ated Press file

Brad Pitt and An­gelina Jolie. The man-tai­lored suit can be so­phis­ti­cated and su­per-sexy, just look at An­gelina Jolie, who wears them reg­u­larly.

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