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Like a Boy

New Culotte

The Spring/Summer ’15 shows were jam-packed with ideas; palettes spanned the colour spectrum and designers turned out prints that ranged from childlike to vintage to abstract and everything in between. But the propositions that felt the freshest weren’t the ’40s screen queens, the ’70s boho goddesses or the ’80s bombshells. It was the pieces rooted in the now. Women want to look feminine and beautiful; they want to wear print and colour, but they don’t want to hobble in too-tight skirts or teeter in too-high shoes. They want to run in Nike Air Max and if it’s chilly, they’re more likely to throw on their boyfriend’s parka than a fur-trimmed coat.

Taking cues from the guys is nothing new. Marlene Dietrich wore men’s suits in the Thirties, and the image of Charlotte Rampling in Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking tuxedo is seared into our minds. But this season, the key is to borrow from the boys, not the men. Forget for a while the black tuxedos and crisp shirts, the wide trousers and pinstripes; now it’s all about shorts (in all lengths), jeans, sporty tees, bomber jackets, schoolboy parkas, and collegiate blazers. Out with velvet slippers and patent oxfords, and in with trainers, skate shoes, and sandals.

For reference, look to the British schoolboy uniform of sweater, shirt, and shorts with piped blazer, high socks, and little jaunty hat. The Brit girls interpret this vibe especially well. Look at Alexa Chung and her tiny shorts, paired with flat shoes, slouchy knits, and shirts. When Cara Delevingne gets out of her onesies, she’s in jeans, hoodies, and flat boots. On red carpets, she’s more likely to show up in a suit than a gown, and even then she’ll break the look with trainers. Edie Campbell is a pro at slouchy tailoring – like a teenager trying on his father’s clothes – and Susie Bubble deftly mixes youthful menswear such as Raf Simons’s tees with zany designs by Meadham Kirchoff.

No surprises that the Brit designers too capture this feel perfectly. Christopher Bailey’s Burberry Prorsum girls had a youthful, irreverent spirit this season, tying trench coats with tulle or shrugging a jean jacket over a slipdress, sneakers with everything. Simone Rocha showed vivid florals and appliqué, but in slouchy, roomy silhouettes with flat shoes. Christopher Kane riffed on school uniform colours for blazers worn with drawstring trousers. Even Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos eased up on their structural, feminine shapes to create easy tees and fluid trousers with sandals. Brit transplants have also brought that aesthetic to New York: Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley put their Marc by Marc Jacobs girl in spunky shorts, tees, and anoraks while Stuart Vevers introduced youthful parkas and duffle coats at Coach.

Remember not to lift the look wholesale. You don’t want to look like a prepubescent schoolboy. Take the elements that best suit your style – a striped tie, a peaked cap, knee-length shorts – and work them into your wardrobe. No need to give up the red lip or five-inch heels if those are the hallmarks of your style. The boyish trend works best offset with a little femininity: pinks, florals, flared skirts, whatever you want. Just throw something unexpected into the mix – a Moschino bomber from the men’s collection, a Dior Homme sweater or even something as simple as white school socks with printed wedges.

Images: Chin Too