If the Suit Fits: A Guide to Unisex Shopping
by Christina Parrella , 10/08/2013
Opening Ceremony. Photo: Malcolm Brown
Like most fashion trends, the current impulse to don clothing that's suitable for either gender isn't exactly new. In the 1930s, Hollywood anti-starlets like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn redefined conventional ideals of sexiness by suiting up in tailored shirts and pants and casually knotted neckties. Thirty years later, when it was still controversial for women to wear pants in public, Yves Saint Laurent shocked the fashion world with Le Smoking suit, the first woman's tuxedo. And then in the '70s, a handful of stars including Diane Keaton, Bianca Jagger and Patti Smith embraced an androgynous aesthetic, opting for slacks, neckties and tuxedo jackets. Smith, who credits Keith Richards and Bob Dylan as fashion inspirations, regularly borrowed pieces from her photographer and muse (nay, doppelgänger) Robert Mapplethorpe.
On the flip side, male musicians have led the pack in bucking fashion tradition. In the 1950s when men were performing strictly in suits and ties, Elvis wore tight rolled pants, bright ruffled shirts and even eye makeup. A decade later in the '60s and even into the '80s, tight jeans, cropped T-shirts, flouncy blouses and scarves were a common sight on rockers such as Robert Plant, Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler. Jagger pushed the boundaries even further, sporting heavy eyeliner and sequined jumpsuits that were cut low in the front and painfully tight. And in such a masculine genre of music as rap, performers such as A$AP Rocky, Pharrell and Lil' Wayne have recently traded baggy pants for tapered leggings, leather skirts and dresses. Kanye West rocked a colorful woman's Céline blouse during Coachella and later caused a buzz for performing in a leather Givenchy kilt at the 12-12-12 concert.
Today, unisex fashion is hardly subversive. Done right, it remains one of the most effortlessly glamorous looks for both genders. From Barneys to Rag & Bone and Uniqlo, a good selection of quality unisex offerings can be found everywhere in NYC. Read on for more information.