From sturdy wide-leg pants by Calvin Klein Collection to polo necks and overalls, to tailored two-piece suits from DSquared2, mannish tailoring has ruled the runways season after season.
Androgynous separates arguably add just a touch of toughness to any woman's look. If anything, mannish style is an opportunity to explore bespoke tailoring, decidedly different silhouettes and a 'borrowed from the boys' brand of style that allows for versatility, ease of movement and perhaps even a small shock factor. Whatever your motivation or desire, incorporating male inspired elements to your wardrobe opens up new avenues for experimentation.
The mannish trend: a herstory
Historically, women warriors like Joan of Arc wore men’s armor to fight in battles, and in the 1800s, women’s riding habits were inspired by men’s military uniforms. In the 1920s, Coco Chanel revolutionized trousers for women, and in the 1970s, Diane Keaton’s nonconformist style in Annie Hall inspired a generation of women to wear mannish tailoring.
In the early to mid-2000s, androgynous dressing hit mainstream fashion more profoundly than ever before. Gender-bending models like Agyness Deyn took over the street style scene and were frequently photographed wearing menswear-inspired looks featuring tweed blazers, wide-brimmed hats and leather boots. Since then, man tailoring has frequently been one of the top trends to emerge from fashion weeks, especially for fall collections.
Your strong suit
The pantsuit is the emblem of the mannish trend. Throughout the years, pantsuits and mannish tailoring have represented women's autonomy, control and at times, controversy. Less than half a century ago, it would’ve been considered appalling for a woman to be seen wearing pants, but thankfully we’ve outgrown that mode of thinking. Everyone from models to politicians have embraced the pantsuit in all its glory, proving women can own the look just as well — if not better — than men.
Fashion editors have been seen embracing mannish style in well-tailored pantsuits — strong in the shoulders, narrow in the waist and cropped at the ankle, accessorized with printed pocket squares by Etro and studded flats for a touch of femininity.
Blend masculine and feminine elements by wearing suits in unconventional shades like moss green and turquoise, or mixing and matching bold floral patterns. Accessories are another key to adding just a dash of ladylike styling to mannish dressing — suede fuschia loafers from Nicholas Kirkwood can be paired with fire engine red pants and a fitted tweed blazer, for example.
Girl meets boy, East meets West
Japanese designers such as Junya Watanabe and Yohji Yamamoto have taken mannish style to new levels, featuring futuristic, conceptual takes on classic menswear. At Yohji Yamamoto’s Spring/Summer '17 show, the pantsuit was gracefully deconstructed, showcasing asymmetrical buttoning and boxy silhouettes. Junya Watanabe’s punk apocalyptic collection featured leather sleeved trench coats and skater style logo tees paired with flashy, geometric capes and vests.
Mannish style is a global phenomenon, and a popular one in the fashion capitals of the East. The streets of Tokyo feature some tomboyish, forward-facing stylish women pairing knee-length men’s basketball shorts — such as those from the Astrid Andersen Spring/Summer '17 collection — with oversized sweatshirts and logo-emblazoned bomber jackets.
A statement on your sleeve
We’re no doubt in the midst of a modern feminist movement, and the Spring and Fall '17 runways have championed the strength of women through strong, mannish tailoring.
At Dior Spring/Summer '17, sky-high heels were replaced with flat white sneakers and paired with boxy knee-length pants and ultra-long sleeved button downs. At Public School’s Fall/Winter '17 show, you didn’t have to squint to see the political angle. Women wore men’s baseball caps donning the phrase “Make America New York," and the looks incorporated mannish style fabrics and prints like corduroy, tartan and pinstripes.
Backstage at Victoria Beckham’s Fall/Winter '17 show, the designer told WWD.com her latest collection was “about offering [her] woman really beautiful clothes [because] there has never been a time when it’s been more relevant to empower women.” Structured blazers were paired with flowing chiffon skirts in luxe oxblood and navy. In another look, trousers were paired with a matching blazer and elbow length leather gloves.
Political statement or not, there’s a certain power that comes with wearing the mannish trend. So borrow that tie from your boyfriend or simply go out and buy one yourself. You’ll look better in it, anyway.