At some point last year I became convinced I needed a red blazer – maybe because my search for a red leather jacket was proving so fruitless. For whatever reason, it jumped to the top of my wishlist on each of my thrifting outings, and eventually I found one for the princely sum of about $12 that fit perfectly and was in ideal condition. I felt very pleased, but recently I realised I had only worn the blazer a couple of times. Obviously my assumption that I’d wear it constantly had been wrong – so I decided it was time to give myself a kick in the butt and bust it out.
To Pinterest! And the entry of “red blazer street style” into the search bar. Unfortunately this gave me a huge number of images of women wearing jeans, which is a legit option but didn’t work in with my plan to wear this outfit on a Tuesday. However, it also (randomly) gave me this image of a man with no head sitting on a dock. I don’t know who this mystery man is or what catalogue he’s modelling in, but I was digging his fawn trouser/white shirt/red jacket combo and decided to use him as my inspiration this month.
Luckily, I have this pair of vintage camel trousers in wardrobe (100% wool, hurrah) and of course we all know that last year I bought the Best White Shirt Ever from RM Williams, so it wasn’t at all hard to put the pieces together. Sometimes the most obvious ideas just totally fail to occur to me because I’m trying to find the more interesting combos – but actually, I think the classic combo of camel, white and red is perfect for this time of year. It’s still crisp, but without the hot, bright tones that I usually associate with summer. Plus, the layering of the shirt and blazer and the woollen trousers meant that I could go coat-free for the day. Yes, I’m already sick of coats.
There are a few obvious departures from Mystery Man’s outfit. For starters, I had no breast pocket so there was no opportunity for a pocket square in my look – although I would be keen to give one a go in future. I recently picked up this red patent belt with a view to belting some coats and jackets with it, but today it made the perfect finishing touch for these trousers. And finally, I didn’t own any shoes that perfectly matched the tone of these trousers, so I went in the other direction and wore these (now somewhat ancient) red shoes instead. My shirt cuffs did extend past my blazer cuffs, though, so we had that in common.
The inspiration for this look got me thinking more about some interesting developments in fashion design and presentation over recent years. Men’s fashion has been inspiring the way that women dress for years, decades, even centuries. While my outfit is obviously feminine because of the cut of the various items, and the particular accessories, women have also been able to co-opt clothes intended for the male form. Think Chanel, think Comme des Garcons, think of all the women who literally dressed like men throughout history. In a society that has for generations been centered around men as the source of power and influence, co-opting menswear can be a powerful move. Check out this piece from the New York Times about two women doing just that.
I find this so interesting, considering the academic research I’ve read which theorises that we use fashion and dressing (among other things) to both construct and signal our gender, and to subtly, perhaps unconsciously, give those around us cues about who we are. I will be interested to see how this develops through my lifetime, as designers continue to experiment within an industry constructed in part on the belief that we build and express our own identity through how we dress.