x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Borrow from the boys - but keep it feminine

Masculine tailoring for women is a hard trend to get right since menswear is generally more restrictive than womenswear in terms of fabric, shape, structure and form.

There is no denying we live in a part of the world where (for want of a better phrase) more is more, a land with no shortage of diamonds and frills. So persuading the girls to go razor sharp as the new masculine tailoring trend emerges may be a challenge. Nevertheless, here is where we are: Savile Row tailoring - for the girls.

One thing is for sure: it all has the workings of a man behind it (my guess is Hedi Slimane, for the record). How do I know? Firstly, because one will need to have about as much body fat as Iggy Pop to pull this look off, and secondly, very few women can actually wear a suit without appearing - well, you know - a little butch.

But fools as we are, we will give it a shot, so at the very least let's work on understanding the peculiar little sub-trend. Borrowing from the boys does not mean sacrificing your femininity. Think back to the loveable if slightly neurotic Annie Hall for some inspiration, whose offbeat prettiness was encapsulated by her dapper hat, braces and wide-leg trousers.

Firstly and most importantly, forget nicking your boyfriend's jacket, which will hang precariously somewhere between your thighs and knees. It will only look ridiculous on your shoulders and will be cut in an entirely different fashion from your body. Instead, invest in a good quality jacket - and I mean really good quality. It will be your key piece. Everything else will be built around it. More simply, an expensive jacket just behaves well, making weak shoulders angular, concealing a thick middle and encasing unruly hips.

Take the time to understand fabric quality. Press it between your fingers. If it bounces back into shape without wrinkling, you are in the right place. For hot weather, linens and cottons are best, but wool or a wool-cashmere mix is a better investment because it will last longer.

It sounds obvious but always have somebody fit you. Your jacket's shoulder pads are supposed to square with your shoulders, and your sleeves shouldn't fall lower than the base of the thumb.

As far as tops go, try experimenting with oversized, finely textured knits, and as temperatures climb try layering fine cashmere. Vanessa Bruno has some great pieces, as does Isabel Marant.

When it comes to trousers, full suits can look fabulous, although last season's popular wide-leg trousers have been replaced with slender cigarette pants, worn with oversized T-shirts. Think tuxedo, almost equestrian in appearance, as long as it's kept slim and fitted and, most importantly, perfectly pressed.

Contrast, as I always say, is everything. It goes back to the whole balanced scales ideal, in that if your bottom half is skinny, your top half should counterbalance. Cigarette trousers should be paired with an oversized top, and wide-leg trousers with something form fitting.

I understand that high fashion isn't for everyone. In fact, the whole concept can be scary to some, so for a softer take throw an oversized jacket over something silky. Stella McCartney is the go-to brand for this look. You can also look for masculine detailing if the full look is a little too extreme: starched collars, ticking stripes, a bow tie or small silver cufflinks on a tailored black jacket will all give the style a nod without giving too much away.

It's a hard trend to get right since menswear is generally more restrictive than womenswear in terms of fabric, shape, structure and form. Although - and here's the best part - we get to bypass all of the strict rules that men adhere to in certain social situations: black tie, white tie, casual, dressy casual, business casual, morning suits, dinner suits.

So there we have it, ladies: what we call modern dressing. Dare I say it suits us.

ktrotter@thenational.ae