Fall Fashion 2012

Pantsuits get more womanly for fall

Forget the boxy looks of yore. The new pantsuits are feminine and fashion-forward.

cbolling@charlotteobserver.comOctober 3, 2012 

  • More information If you decide to wear the pants, Hade Robinson, Nordstrom personal stylist manager offers these tips: Today’s pantsuit can run the style gamut from the fashion-forward skinny pant leg to jackets cut shorter in front and longer in back and tuxedo-style jackets. pPay close attention to fit and sizing. “It’s important to remember that many women are a different size on top than they are on the bottom,” Robinson says. “Everyone is not a standard ‘off the rack’ size.” See a tailor to have the suit fitted properly. Should you go the head-to-toe single color route, of color use scarves and colorful blouses to break up the monotony and to add a feminine twist. Bold jewelry or a great brooch works too. Stretch your pantsuit dollar by mixing up the look – by wearing the jacket and pants with different pieces. Adding a novelty jacket with the pants or a skirt with the jacket “enables you to achieve many different looks with the pantsuit.” “The same jacket or pant can take you from the office to a dinner out with friends if you pair it with a more casual piece.”
  • Moments in pantsuit history 1930s-’40s: Marlene Dietrich, sometimes referred to as “the best-dressed man in Hollywood,” causes a scandal by wearing pantsuits as daywear. The chief of police in Paris is so shocked he orders her to leave the city. 1966: Yves Saint Laurent designs the sleek pantsuit known as Le Smoking. 1972: Bianca Jagger’s white pantsuits define her as a style icon. 1977: Romantic comedy “Annie Hall” is released, and Diane Keaton’s look – vintage men’s clothing and pantsuits – becomes the rage off-screen. 1993: Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the Senate, wears a pantsuit on the Senate floor, ending the ban on women wearing slacks there. 2004: Sotheby’s sells a pantsuit and coat owned by the late, great, pants-wearing star Katharine Hepburn for $3,900. 2011: On “Lopez Tonight,” style master Tim Gunn says of Hillary Clinton: “Why must she dress that way? I think she’s confused about her gender. All these big baggy menswear tailored pantsuits.” He also says he respects her intellect and tenacity. 2012: Designer Carolina Herrera debuts a bridal pantsuit as part of her spring 2012 bridal collection.

The pantsuit is having its moment.

No longer the boxy, shapeless, woman-disguised-as-a-man ensemble, pantsuits are one of the “it” items to wear this fall. They’re sexy, even, when done right.

Gucci paraded the pantsuit on the runway for fall 2012. Rachel Zoe presented three versions of pantsuit – from all-white to a check-print three-piece. Ralph Lauren sent a velvet pantsuit down his runway.

And their celebrity status goes way beyond Hillary Clinton. A-listers from Gwyneth Paltrow to Halle Berry and Vanessa Hudgens have sported them out and about.

There’s something chic about menswear-inspired looks for women, showcased in designers’ collections every fall. Today’s pantsuit is no exception.

With jackets that nip in at the waist, slim pants that flow effortlessly in a variety of widths, and lots of flattering options in necklines, a woman in a pantsuit can look like, well, a woman.

“I’ve always been a fan of the pantsuit. … It’s ever-evolving and updating,” says Ashley Harris, owner of Vermillion boutique in Raleigh.

Harris says she offers shoppers a few to choose from each season. “We have a lot of professional women come through, and women love a suit” to wear to the office or more formal events, she says.

And Harris gets creative when it comes to pantsuits. She recently paired a cropped black Celine pant with a short Balenciaga jacket that had a patent leather tie at the waist. “It’s a neat twist on a black pant suit.”

Marcia Simon, owner of Paul Simon for Women in Charlotte, says the demand for “matchy-matchy” pantsuits in her store has declined over the years, with many women favoring jackets and trousers in complimentary colors or patterns that can be worn together as a pantsuit or mixed and matched.

“Women are more confident today than they have ever been. They don’t feel like they have to dress like a man,” Simon says. “We’re seeing that among our top executives. They want to look a little more feminine.”

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