WIW: Menswear, tailoring, structure and slouch

Seasons greetings! Hope everyone's enjoying the holidays, and not too stressed out by the procession of parties and endless preparation (well under way here). No idea if there's space on the forum for a post that has nothing to do with celebrating the year's end, but I've been sitting on these looks for a week or so, and I wanted to know what you think about menswear styling.

I’m very attracted to the simplicity, practicality and classicism of menswear, and it features heavily in my style when I’m not wearing skirts and dresses. I think if I were ever to take the minimalist closet/signature stye route, this might be the way I would go. But I’m not a natural minimalist, and I think I’d miss the variety.

Being quite a pronounced inverted triangle, apparently I’m supposed to avoid high necklines and shoulder pads, but the extra definition on my strong shoulder line feels like a very powerful statement. As long as I remember to balance things out with a shaped waist and some fullness in the trouser department this usually works out pretty well.

So here are a few menswear-inspired looks from a couple of weeks ago, albeit with relatively little menswear. I like the combination of structure and slouch that I get with a tailored jacket and loose-fitting pants. And the look makes me feel some serious attitude, although looking through the pictures I want to yell at myself to stand up straight and get my hands out of my pockets. 

1-2: The velvet blazer is another oldie from about 10 years ago. I love the tailoring and the piping details, and it fits just so like great tailoring should. But it’s quite hard to style because it resists dressing down, and it’s definitely not of this fashion cycle. Nonetheless I’m liking it a lot this year with these softly pleated tapered trousers I made myself and my beloved creepers.

3-5: Loose-fitting denim is fashion Marmite. I thrifted these oversized selvedge Levis BNWT with the idea that I’d - erm - deconstruct them into something else, but in the end all I did was put a couple of darts in the waistband and wear a belt. Katie Holmes got a lot of stick for doing something similar a couple of years ago but I like the look, this time with a sports jacket from Jil Sander for Uniqlo, and men’s boots. Sewists might be amused by the skinny jumper made out of socks, which I wrote about on my blog.

6-7: A black blazer by German brand Drykorn. I sized up for the fit on the shoulder and bust, and I’m always wondering if I should try taking it in a bit at the waistline. Paired with a very old pair of wide-legged trousers from Cacherel, which I love in the winter (luscious fabric, lined throughout!) but I fear they're beginning to show their age. I think I like the idea of this look more than the execution. I should probably wear the creepers instead of the boots.

Comments and thoughts are appreciated. Have you been rocking the mannish girl? Are you offended by loose-fitting denim? Have I hung on to the velvet jacket past its sell-by date? Should I ditch the wide pants and go looking for sleeker tailoring?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 9 years ago

    These are all three great looks, approprio! Don't let go of the velvet blazer. It is gorgeous on you, and I like it dressed down and given the menswear treatment with the drapey trousers and oxfords. (Which I can't believe you made! They look terrific on you.) I like the baggy jeans and the fabulous jacket, belt, and boots you're wearing with them. The last outfit is perhaps less stunning than the other two, but still a great outfit of quality pieces. It just looks a bit more classic; that's all. What if you put a horizontal-striped top under the blazer, rather than the solid black?
    The sock sweater is amazing! I went to your blog for a look. I would like to give it a try.

  • Tania replied 9 years ago

    A few weeks ago, I wrote out "clean, simple, practical, strong, capable" as traits that I want to embrace in my closet.  I recently started over and am working towards a minimal closet too, so I appreciated your thoughts.  I don't know the answers to all your questions, but all your stylings appeal to me, and it seems to me that a fair amount of whether or not you should wear something has to do with your attitude and approach. 

  • approprio replied 9 years ago

    Thanks Firecracker, I think you're right that the last look is a bit underwhelming. I think it needs a boost but I can't quite identify what. I'm certainly going to try it with a striped or even a printed shirt. I'm not sure if I have the ideal candidate in my wardrobe right now, but I'll certainly dive into Mr Edge's side of the closet and take one or two of his for a test drive. (And if you have a go at the sock sweater, please let me know!)

    Tania, I could go on at length about menswear and how I admire it for its pure functionality. So much so that I'm always trying to rethink skirts and even dresses from a "mannish" point of view. As I said, stylistically I'm nobody's minimalist, but I love the feeling I get when clothing is perfectly functional as well as looking great, and it seems that's far more easily found in the men's department. And I love your vintage RL jacket. That's quite a score.

  • unfrumped replied 9 years ago

    I likeall of  these outfits.
    I would wear the Cacherel's until they fell off. So hard to find items like that anymore.
    Menswear is so frustrating because it tends to include higher-end fabrics and construction for just ordinary items, whereas it's become more of a luxury in womens' wear. Or so it seems.
    Was not familiar with creepers.

  • Dimity replied 9 years ago

    Very nice, particularly the wider legs. They work well for you. 

  • Jaime replied 9 years ago

    Honestly the only thing I don't like here is the pictures are a bit dark and I can't make out all the details. The middle one is my favorite - I love whatever you did to those jeans to make them oversized but not overwhelming and I like them paired with that jacket. The wide legs in the third outfit are  fantastic as is the velvet jacket that is interesting and fits so well so does not look dated but intentional and fab. Very impressed with your slouchy trousers and sewing skills too!

  • Beth Ann replied 9 years ago

    Yes!  I love the tailored jacket over slouch and ease.  You wear it so well, and I'm ready to embrace new silhouettes like this.

    I've got a real sugar eye for Levi's, too.  They're iconic to me, and I love the simple pockets and small red tag.

    The last look has the same terrific silhouette.  What about a lighter color in the top to frame and light up your face?  It's a device rooted more in art than fashion, but I'm trying it out more in my own wardrobe.

  • Gaylene replied 9 years ago

    I love all of these outfits on you. As another IT, I'm all for emphasizing our strong shoulder line. Pairing the fitted velvet jacket with those soft, slouchy trousers is a magical combination to my eye. Strong, powerful, but very feminine.

  • merwoman replied 9 years ago

    Love your princely looks! The drape of all of your pants is suberb, and that velvet jacket is to die for.  Keep it all!

  • approprio replied 9 years ago

    Thanks all! Happy that the slouchy trews aren't giving you all poison eye. I'm having a bit of a purge at the moment, so it's good to know some of these older pieces can still pull their weight.

    unfrumped - ain't that the truth about menswear! Why can't womenswear slow down a bit and start delivering the same quality? I just had a good look at those pants and I'm going to take your advice and wear them until they fall off. They're too well made and too classic to get rid of. Cacherel have been fantastic in the past, but I haven't seen them in the shops for a while. 

    Ah yes - and creepers (aka brothel creepers), so named for their thick crepe soles. They're an English cult classic from the 50's, first popular with the Teddy Boy subculture and they've been part of British urban fashion ever since. They can get very fancy, (multicoloured, monk straps, flatform soles etc) but mine are quite restrained black lace ups with a pointy toe. They look a bit like the find below.

    Firecracker, Beth Ann - I've just tried the last look with a purple marble dyed cashmere tee I bought recently, and it looks great, and there's one or two good candidates in Mr Edge's wardrobe too. Thanks for the advice!

    Dimity, shevia, Gaylene, merwoman, thanks for the boost! It's always good to know when something's working.

    Happy holidays!

  • thimblelina replied 9 years ago

    You have such a terrific sense of what lines suit your body & personality! I'm always impressed.

  • Vildy replied 9 years ago

    hah marmite! I think I'm the only person with absolutely no British background who likes it. Had to go to a chi chi British themed boutique here to find it, though.

    To my mind, Katie Holmes, though she did garner a load of criticism, officially
    started the boyfriend jeans look.

    Velvet jackets are in again, though more so featured as menswear :D. So probably a couple years down the runway from the average shopper.

    Off to go get a gander at your sock sweater!

  • karymk replied 9 years ago

    Well I LOVE menswear on you--no wonder you love it, it looks good on you.

    The jeans are amazing--they make me shrivel into the jeans hall of shame....You are a talented nipper and tucker as far as perfecting alterations.

    You have a great shape, I love the tight black top with those jeans.

    Are you a writer by vocation? Because you should be .

  • viva replied 9 years ago

    I love to see your pictures -- even though I also wish they weren't so dark so that I could see them even better. I love menswear as well, and I would rather spend 10 minutes in a men's shoe department than an hour in a women's! Women's shoes may have more variety, but in a good store men's always always always look more refined, luxurious, and interesting. When I travel for work, I find myself complimenting male clients on their shoes much more than women on their clothing. It probably seems a bit odd to them.

    The only thing I am really hunting for right now is a beautiful pair of drapey wide leg pants. I wish your Cacherels would duplicte, spontaneously, in my wardrobe right now.

    Also, just want to add that I bought a close-fitting black and white houndstooth blazer this fall, and I was feeling very meh about it until I wore it as you have in pic 3 -- collar all the way up and in close to my neck, and with baggy jeans. What a complete transformation.

    I've been absent from the forum for a while but excited to be back and to be inspired by your posts!

  • Angie replied 9 years ago

    HAH. A sock top. How creative

    I love #4. It's strong and simple - a look close to my heart. And your red hair livens up the black just perfectly. xo

  • replied 9 years ago

    I'm a menswear lover from way back.  It started with a love for the fabrics, construction and tailoring techniques, and then eventually into an appreciation for the styling itself.  Like viva, I particularly love mens shoes - and notice them first  on a well-dressed man every time.  Anyways, I am slightly in awe (and fear - lol) of your style and the creativity with which you dress.  You are using older pieces in such elegant and creative ways - the jeans are fantastic, and I particularly love the buttoned-up blazer over the flowy pants.  I always love seeing pictures of creepers - they make me smile.  Not for me, but they certainly work for you.  I look forward to learning more from you - and reading your thoughts on fashion.

  • approprio replied 9 years ago

    Got to be quick right now, about to leave the Internet for a few days, so no time for detailed responses. But thank you everyone for input, encouragement and thoughts on menswear. Nice to know I'm not the only menswear aficionado! Later all :)

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