The Return of Ladylike Fashions

The July 2010 issue of Vogue magazine announced the trend by posing a question:  “When Did Chic Get So Cool?”, and this response: “When a generation turned away from slouchy tees and leather leggings.” Vogue’s pronouncement: “Girls, looking polished and grown-up is back.”

Girls’, or should I say women’s, apparel is finally catching up to what we’ve seen happen with men’s apparel. Men in the music industry led the way. It wasn’t that long ago that young, hot recording artists wore tracksuits, low-riding baggy pants and ostentatious diamond bling. The style shifted to tailored suits that flattered the men and classed up their acts, creating aspirational dressing of the most readily recognizable kind.

Tailoring is a key element in common. In reporting on the fall season, Glenda Bailey, Editor in Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, wrote about the “spirit of tailoring and craftsmanship” seen in women’s fashions in the Milan and Paris runway shows. Translated into women’s wear, the look honors the female form and can either be classically elegant or sexy and body-conscious. Thus Bazaar features such looks as chic  monochromatic pant ensembles.

Similarly, the September 2010 issue of Town & Country answered the question “what’s next” with the response: “Tailoring: menswear-inspired looks, and even the suit, all more feminine than ever.”

Marie Claire takes a different approach, as set forth in its September 2010 issue:  “She’s a Lady:  Forget tea parties: Full skirts, shaggy coats, and hinged bags symbolize a new tres cool conservative movement.”

Illustration: From the August 2010 issue of InStyle.

Whether one’s take on the new ladylike fashions is a return to elegant sophistication or the incorporation of quirky vintage references into one’s style, the most immediate way in which to incorporate ladylike sensibilities into a wardrobe is through accessories. The August 2010 issue of InStyle notes that “Sleek heels and structured bags are sophisticated, refined, and part of the polished look that’s totally happening for fall.” An editor for Lucky magazine, in putting together a back-to-school-inspired fall look, includes the pronouncement “I’m retiring my chunky watch for now in favor a lady-size classic.”

How best to incorporate jewelry into these new ladylike looks is still sorting itself out. As often seen with important new trends in apparel, many of the photo spreads are almost completely devoid of jewelry and the focus is entirely on the garments. Notice the descriptive words… sleek, structured, sophisticated, refined, polished, grown-up. These terms may describe the direction jewelry will take as well . . . or maybe not. I’ll report further on the return to ladylike looks and what the trend means for jewelry design in future posts.