While we could certainly credit Hedi Slimane for revolutionizing the ultra-slim menswear look and exquisite tailoring for Dior Homme back in 2001, today we're looking to its current interpretation in women's fashion for inspiration--specifically Paul Smith's S/S 11 show. For his intriguing Masculin Feminin display, Smith sent out models dressed like '50s Teddy Boys, wearing crisp button-down shirts with the sleeves rolled up, ankle-length cropped pants, brogues, and pompadour hairdos. In the above runway look, the designer combined a white button-down Shirt ($530, 646.613.3060) with a pair of gray tailored Trousers ($575, 646.613.3060), clear pointy-toe Heels ($490, 646.613.3060), and the Jasmine Show Shoulder Bag ($1620) for a refined and sophisticated ensemble. Though the collection has a decidedly boyish vibe, it's important to note that Smith incorporated subtle feminine accents (the aforementioned heels, occasional pops of floral prints) to give the looks a bit of sex appeal.
In addition to the runways, we spotted a number of fashion trailblazers addressing this well-suited trend, and their resulting outfits are quite noteworthy. One way to incorporate this look into your wardrobe is via a stylish blazer-and-pants combo a la Leelee Sobieski. The actress certainly impressed at the 2011 CFDA Awards last week, wearing a custom Adam Kimmel suit with gold Givenchy peep toe booties. The slim fit of the crème separates give the decidedly masculine ensemble a sultry feminine flair, while the minimal accessories keep the outfit looking sleek and chic. A month earlier, we came across Jenna Lyons--J. Crew's President/Creative Director--who quite literally borrowed from the boys when she wore a men's navy J. Crew Ludlow Two-Button Tuxedo Jacket ($358) and Tuxedo Pants ($158) to the Parsons School of Design Fashion Benefit in New York. Much like the Paul Smith show, a few feminine accents, including a Thomas Mason shirt with jeweled detailing and Isabel Marant pointy-toe pumps, ensure her outfit looks modern and in keeping with the overall trend.
Of course, if you're not looking to invest in a two-piece situation, you can always go for a pseudo-suit ensemble instead, as demonstrated by Olivia Palermo. The trendsetter looked smashing at a screening for Midnight in Paris in New York last month, when she wore Ann Taylor's Tropical Wool One-Button Jacket ($198) with a No Name blouse and tie. Rather than selecting a pair of tailored trousers, Palermo opted for a pair of slim jeans, Paige's Verdugo Denim Leggings ($158) in Vinyl to be exact. It's a smart choice indeed, as the jeans play down the dressiness of the top half of her outfit. We came across a similar look on Stockholm Streetstyle, where one stylish civilian paired her crisp white blazer with black skinny jeans and gold heels for a posh daytime look.
While we certainly adore Olivia Palermo's smart separates, we're also quite fond of the way Chloe Sevigny addressed this Masculin Feminin look. The actress/designer/style icon showed up to a Guggenheim Museum event at the Hugo Boss store in New York last month, wearing the Alive Jacket ($565, 800.HUGOBOSS), Elvine Blouse ($135, 800.HUGOBOSS), and Renda Skirt ($250, 800.HUGOBOSS), all by said brand. The white-on-white separates are a smart choice for summer, while the combination of her mini skirt, Mary-Jane heels--which are from her own Resort 11 collection for Opening Ceremony--and white socks give the outfit a more girlish and youthful vibe. Finally, we're also smitten with the debonair ensemble model Alana Zimmer put together on photographer Vanessa Jackman's site. The Canadian beauty expertly combined a white button-down shirt, black sweater, and boyfriend coat with a pair of brown tailored trousers. We particularly like that she went for cropped pants, which give the ensemble an of-the-moment look.
While you may not be able to get your hands on today's exact designer pieces, we have a lovely selection of borrowed-from-the-boys alternatives that are sure to fit the bill this summer! If you're looking to achieve Leelee Sobieski's sleek look, we recommend trying J. Crew's Nouevelle Jacket ($178) and 1035 Trousers ($118), which offer a flattering slim fit, or Calvin Klein's Linen Blend Suit Jacket ($100) and Linen Straight Leg Suit Pants ($80); between the two you should have an excellent daytime and evening option. For those who favor Jenna Lyons' navy suit instead, you definitely don't want to miss Talbots' Kate Fit Double Wave Patch-Pocket Jacket ($199) and Classic Zip Fit Pique Skimmer Pants ($80).
If you're looking for a subtler approach to this menswear-inspired look, it's always a good idea to pick up a few separates to mix and match with your feminine pieces. Guess' Boyfriend Jacket ($188) and Topshop's Petite Black Shawl Collar Jacket ($125) are both smart and easy starting off points that would look excellent with a body-con skirt or a pair of slim jeans a la Sevigny and Palermo. Also be sure to check out Gallia's Moda Stretch Twill Capri Pants ($50), ASOS' Tailored Slim Leg Trousers ($60), and Halogen's Taylor Straight Leg Crop Pants ($68) if you're leaning towards a pair of tailored trousers. Whatever style suits you, just be sure to pair it with a crisp button-down shirt, like 7 For All Mankind's Easy Shirt ($148) or Thomas Pink's White Tailored Gabrielle Stripe Shirt ($185), to keep your ensemble looking polished!--Jessica Baker
Photos of Chloe Sevigny and Jenna Lyons, courtesy of Getty; Street style photos, courtesy of Stockholm Streetstyle and Vanessa Jackman; Runway image, courtesy of Paul Smith