From the moment an Arab girl is born, she's faced with challenges and restrictions - be they social, professional or sartorial. But, can gender differences be eradicated by way of dress? “Blasphemy”, some say. “Wishful thinking,” I counter.
One of this season's Autumn-Fall trends for women is the masculine trouser suit: the YSL classic is back with flattering twists to fit every body type, loose cuts to hide the extras, as well as cropped and fitted trousers to reveal some ankle. Or different designs and colors to wear with three pieces, a formal shirt, or lace tops.
I tried the suit, in its strictest, mannish form, for a day at the office. Just a shirt and brogues. Walking down the street, I missed the sound of my heels. No “clickity clack” while walking, no swaying, no teetering. My steps were quick and paced like a metronome.
When I shouted my usual “Bonjour les enfants” to the team, they were surprised to see me not alongside the sound of my heels making their way down the corridor. They glanced at my look and presumed I was in a bad mood. No colors, no elaborate combinations, just a dark suit and…brogues. Broken by a dash of bright red lipstick.
First meeting of the day. People thought I was dressed for Halloween!
I went out for lunch and caught a few amused glances.
Back at the office, I was pre-occupied with wanting to go home and change. I missed the soft touch of silk, my towering heels, the feminine empowering recklessness. The first chance I had to detour by the house, I grabbed my stilettos, changed my shirt to a silk top, added a few accessories and felt like myself again.
Let’s face it, a lot of working women hide behind their strict suits using them as shields against a man’s world. They adopt them to feel equal to their male colleagues. By hiding their femininity they hope to be perceived as serious. I totally disagree with that principle. Women ought not to disguise themselves. Dressing in a suit should not mean sacrificing your womanhood. A silk top along with superb slick pumps or booties can totally transform a dull suit from “Blah” to “Look out I'm coming.”
And the rest should follow: Hair, makeup and nails. Creating a look is a process. Miss one element and you loose the effect.
A woman should always feel like a woman no matter what she wears. A suit can be very feminine, when worn, for example, like I wear my YSL tuxedo: trousers, jacket and a long chain around my neck. Another favorite, is teaming it with a plain tee-shirt, a bling-bling necklace and a pair of pointed booties. Or going preppy with cropped trousers, a buttoned up shirt and a string of pearls under a closed collar, or a little broach on my jacket lapel. If I'm opting for the striped Garbo-style suit with wide legs, I team it with a crisp white shirt, a statement necklace or earrings and red lipstick for a stunning effect.
Another direction is to dress the suit down completely by teaming it with colorful sneakers for a sporty look and adding colorful accessories. This look requires a bold personality. Wear it with care.
For handbags, a big clutch with your masculine suit is a perfect companion.
Suit or no suit, a woman is a woman and respect and equality in this man’s world is going to take a lot more than accessories.