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Executive Women Dress Style

Boyfriend jackets are big: long and roomy, cut to look like they’re on loan from a man.

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Boyfriend jackets are big: long and roomy, cut to look like they’re on loan from a man.

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Borrowing from the male wardrobe is hardly new–menswear fabrics like tweeds cross over into women’s wear every few seasons.  But the prevalence of mannish jackets represents a real shift from the girly dresses.  Judging from fashion history, masculine styles often signal a moment when women are looking for clothes that assert authority.

In the past, gender-blending styles have emerged at points when women pushed for more power.  When women entered the workforce en masse in the 1970s, the masculine “power suit” became the uniform of choice for women trying to break into male-dominated professions.

“It’s when women need to prove that they’re equal that they don’t dress in an overly feminine way,” says Beth Dincuff Charleston, a professor and fashion historian at Parsons, the New School for Design in New York.  “The shoulder gets stronger, and the borrowing from menswear happens.” 

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Source: The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2008