Styling Menswear for Women, Part 1
by: Jessi Daly
To all the fellow tomboys out there who were wearing their older brother’s hand-me-downs until the age of sixteen (or never stopped), and to every girl who has ever been told she’s either, “Goodwill personified” with her oversized Kurt Cobain-esque flannels and baggy jeans, or rocked a pantsuit like she’s Hillary Clinton herself, we’ve got some good news for ya… it’s time to pull out the vintage blazers and straight leg trousers and channel our inner 2003 Video Music Awards Madonna. It’s 2019 ladies, "boyfriend jeans" are no longer just for the boyfriend.
Let’s take it back on to the 1850’s real quick when our girl, women’s rights activist, Amelia Bloomer, helped us all out big time by advocating for women to lose the tight corsets and heavy petticoats worn under their skirts. She worked to eliminate some of the stuffy discomfort in women’s fashion by introducing the “bloomer”, the wide loose fitting pants worn under a knee length skirt or dress. This was the first time in the history of women’s fashion where wearing some form of pant was even moderately acceptable. Fast forward to the 1920’s and women’s clothing is starting to change more than ever. With women entering the workforce during WWI, there was no time to mess with bonnets or frills and lace- they had to start thinking more practically about their 'fits. Although women were still often seen in skirts, they were shifted to more sporty, loose, and overall more masculine versions. If you’ve ever stepped foot in a mall, you’ve at least heard the name Coco Chanel. Being one of the most influential (and badass) fashion icons of the 20’s, she rebelliously said, “no thanks” to the social norms for womenswear; and embraced the cool, calm, collected, and androgynous style. She’s the mastermind behind some of the first suits, blazers, and simple everyday-wear completely designed for women, and thank goodness for that.
Finally in 1939, Vogue illustrated a woman in a pair of “men’s” pants on the cover of their May issue. As exciting as this was, of course, they were sure to include an article on how and where these slacks were to be worn: “One Iron Rule is that they are well-cute and well-creased to appear properly ‘feminine’.” It was deemed important and totally necessary to avoid any masculine accessories and to be sure your makeup was perfect and not a hair was out of place. So basically, women were starting to be free to wear whatever they wanted…as long as they still looked like a pretty and proper housewife for their husbands (it was the early 1900’s… baby-steps, people).
Woman featured in "men's" trousers on the cover of the May 1939 Vogue issue.
Now it’s 2019 and we’re comin’ in hot with the menswear. For the first time, we’ve reached an era where women wearing menswear on the runway as well as on the real life streets, is nothing to double take at. Reaching for the blazer and chinos is now just as acceptable as the default skirt and blouse for a work meeting, and a pair of oxfords can easily replace a pair of heels (and thank goodness for that).
Be sure to check out the EcoVibe Men's Collection for various ways to shake up your wardrobe. And stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog post for more fun ideas on styling menswear for the ladies!