Visiting us quite often, in some way or the other for the past few seasons are classic elements from a formal wardrobe that is certainly becoming a new favourite of the global masses. Apparently it is the economic recession and the psychology of a jobless youth who is driving this demand, as looking ‘employed’ is the new lifestyle tag that everyone wants to carry. Also a busy and a faster life is decreasing the number of hours one has to change between a morning breakfast, to an office attire and then for an evening occasion, so people prefer clothes that are comfortable yet crisp and serious, trendy yet classic and fit perfectly into the definition of semi formals. Finding new ways of innovating workwear which was usually far too sensible for high fashion in the earlier decades, both the designer and the retail world seems to be taking a formal twist in silhouettes and styles, even changing the use of fabrics, textures and embellishments for that sober look…
Referred to as ‘the new fashion muse – a working woman’, the look is becoming highly prevalent day by day, emerging both ways with casual wear becoming more formal and workwear becoming more stylish. Supporting this trend, a 2011 report by the Office of National Statistics claims that an average UK worker clocks in 42.7 hours – or around 38% of our waking week – and probably spends more time with colleagues than friends. The designers while accounting this fact have now realized that workwear is a relatively untapped market with high potential and increasing demand.
Seen at its best in the latest Autumn/Winter 2012-13 collections, thanks to the addition of outwear, it is the most influential designers who first popularized the change on the runways, making formal wear more acceptable in the minds and hearts of a fashion forward customer. While Armani and Donna Karan advocated power suiting in the 80s, Richard Nicoll dedicated his collection to the professional woman, with knee-length skirts, all-day heels and shirting, and brands including Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane and Balenciaga showed their collections stylized in office towers. Also Nicolas Ghesquière sported ensembles like knee skirts, smart trousers, and nipped-in jackets crafting a collection for ‘different women dressing for different business areas’.
The most prominent style that first initiated a formal feel is the wide demand of pants and trousers that has filtered as a staple in a woman’s wardrobe. Boyishly casual or seductively elegant, a variety of trousers have been central to fashion which range from cropped at the ankles, relatively loose taken straight from the men’s wardrobe and are worn slightly lower on the hips than usual, proper, tailored pants with proper, fitted waistbands, made in wool or crepe or silk satin or lace, front-pleated, slit-at-the-ankles to printed and luxuriously ethnic. Apt for networking, dining, and skittering off to board meetings all at the same time, the silhouette is one of the most obvious additions to a formal twisted fashion lifestyle.
Not only with crisp and formal silhouettes, but also by adding certain elements into an otherwise casual style, is another key to achieve this trend. One of the most relevant examples for the same is of the raging comeback of the classic peter pan collars embraced by fashion giants such as Giambattista Valli, DKNY, Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs. With only shirts being designed with peter pan collars traditionally, now the collar is also being adopted by various types of apparel from dress to long-sleeve T-shirts and from a gorgeous evening dress and a cashmere coat, also favoured by High Street stores and low-budget fashion outlets such as Topshop, Temperly London and ASOS.