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Catching Rae

Parsing Trends: Big Man

From Left to Right: Max Mara, Balenciaga, Ralph Lauren, Tibi via   Vogue

From Left to Right: Max Mara, Balenciaga, Ralph Lauren, Tibi via Vogue

Women have been wearing men's clothing for a longer time than you may guess - from Joan of Arc to Marie Antoinette to Coco Chanel - for the practicality of physical battle to the more revolutionary battles for political and social equality. For this reason, menswear has a connotation of androgyny, subversiveness, radicalism, and rejection of tradition as much as it adopts the feeling of a true man's suit, which speaks to power, authority, and business acumen. 

Continuing this week's series on the big fall trends, let's put the Big Man suit through the 9-point inspection:

  • Hue - navy, brown, black. These colors communicate reliability, power, authority, strength, integrity, sincerity, structure, ritual.
  • Value - mid-dark to dark. Having more black in the color emphasizes power and authority but can also be intimidating.
  • Saturation - mid to high saturation. This continues the theme of showing up as bold, powerful, present, abundant.
  • Contrast - Low. Low contrast speaks to subtlety, detail, nuance, a softer/gentler approach.
  • Fit - slouchy, boxy, possibly double-breasted. Suggests that the garments possibly weren't made for you. Did you sleep over and have to borrow a man's suit? Connotation is daring, subversive, political, artistic, contrary.
  • Hand - varies. A stiffer fabric is more literally masculine and emphasizes gender reversal, subversiveness, aggressiveness, combative tendencies, strength, power. A more flexible fabric feels more yielding and feminine, taking the hard edge off the look. 
  • Weight - varies. Heavier = serious, gravitas, abundance, warmth, power. Lighter = playful, cheeky, relaxed.
  • Luster - minimal shine, if any. Serious, proper, practical, mundane, secular.
  • Texture - varies. Plaids or tweeds have more texture and feel more rough, combative, practical, academic, mundane. Smoother fabrics feel more genteel, urban, slick, and feminine.

Overall, wearing slightly oversized menswear look brings a little bit of social warfare into the mix, making your image more quirky, subversive, and non-traditional than it would be if you simply wore a suit well-fitted to the female body. This effect can be softened by wearing feminine heels, soft/silky/lacy details, or wearing menswear separates instead of a full-on suit - or it can be emphasized with loafers/boots and a necktie. 

How about it? The menswear trend seems to emerge every Fall, so how is this slouchy iteration feeling this year?