You Need This... I Promise

Pinstripes

 

Ann at home wearing the pinstriped Parker Jacket, an ivory silk tie-neck blouse, and a relaxed pair of jeans.
sans shoulder pads 

When I think of pinstripes, one of the first images that comes to mind is Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. Master of the universe in his Savile row pinstripe suit. Wait... or did Master of the Universe actually come from Bonfire of the Vanities? And was that itself some kind of superhero reference? Easy to mix up all those 1980s New York pop culture references. Especially because my own intro to the working world (and its pinstripes) was also in the 80s and also in New York. Yet another movie image comes to mind: the opening scene of Working Girl, when Melanie Griffith is riding to work in Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry. She’s got the trifecta of that era going on:

Big hair.

Commuter sneakers.

Oversized, menswear-style suit. 

It looks so crazy and exaggerated to look at it now, but we really did dress that way. Although I never got into the big hair thing — I had spent the last several years growing out an asymmetrical short punk cut and had enough life changes going on to experiment with a new hairstyle — the rest of the style in that movie rings so true. It was pretty much all there was in terms of workwear. A menswear-style jacket with big shoulder pads, a pencil skirt that hit just below the knee, and a blouse of some sort buttoned all the way up. Just really boring. All these cute girls I knew from college would go buy a few of these suits to wear to their desks on Wall Street, and I hope I don’t sound mean when I say they kind of looked like hell. It was confusing to me. Not only their physical transformations, all of it. I didn’t understand what they actually did when they got to their desks. I knew they weren’t secretaries... and I knew their jobs were more structured than mine… perhaps just as chaotic… but whatever they were up to, I knew it was a bad look. The sneakers made sense as a practical thing, but I was optimistic enough to think that I might meet someone on a train. No way would I be wearing a skirt in that unflattering length with tennis shoes when I crossed paths with the love of my life on the C train… let alone with pantyhose. Forget about it. In retrospect, I didn’t really have the confidence to lean into the bad sneakers. And I didn’t have a job on Wall Street, either.

Anyway. My second mental image of women in menswear-style suiting is Donna Karan’s amazing 1992 ad campaign, IN WOMEN WE TRUST.  Sexy, powerful, in charge. That was always Donna’s mantra but here it came through clearer than ever. Rosemary McGrotha was the model acting as the first female president (or some other high office) being sworn in wearing a very feminine, fitted power suit that called to mind a man’s double-breasted jacket but nipped in to show off her curves. (Sidebar: I knew just how womanly her figure was when my boss came back from a Paris couture photo shoot. These were MAJOR shoots where they would receive the clothing only after the couture houses closed for the evening and the fancy clients had already seen the samples. They would shoot late into the night before returning the samples in the morning and what you got was what you got. A one-time deal. No reshoots. Mrs. Mellen spoke of DUCT TAPING Rosemary’s beautiful and bountiful chest so that she could fit into the sample gowns. Talk about womanly.) Donna accomplished all of this femininity by creating more traditionally masculine-inspired clothing with fit and stretch and ample room inside the jacket for whatever was more ample on your body. A great friend of mine, just the other day, was bemoaning giving away a Donna Karan seersucker suit from that era. “I wore that thing everywhere and I am dying for it now.” If anyone has a size 6 in their closet, let me know. Women have (clearly) always worn menswear-style suits, but it really feels like it’s in the air and on my mind right now. 

 

 

And there is nothing more quintessentially menswear than pinstripes, which is the pattern on two pieces this season that I am just crazy about. Bankers wear pinstripes. Gordon Gekko wears pinstripes. Masters of the universe wear pinstripes. You can get a pinstripe suit from Sid. There are two pieces on the line this season that I am just crazy for in this soft, luxe, pinstripe knit wool. Unlike the heavy, beautiful wool flannel that he would offer… ours is a knit and it is made for comfort without sacrificing any of the bravado and swagger that it both symbolizes and instills. Maybe that was the idea with the jackets in the first place. You put on a suit and you think like a successful businessman. Uniforms are powerful. I read recently that doctors are actually more attentive and focused when they are wearing their white coats.  

The white symbol over their street clothes must pull some string in their brain a little tighter and they are ready. So, Cathy Hardwick and Jones New York and all those suit companies that made those horrible girl suits for the entry-level analysts downtown may have known what they were doing after all. Who wouldn’t want to throw on a piece that kicks you into higher gear? 

Our Parker Jacket is truly that. Trimmer than those 80s jackets (thank God) with no shoulder pads or oversized lapels. Just a classic, slim-cut blazer. To me, without the exaggerated silhouette it almost feels more collegiate than banker — but that makes me feel smart, too. Size up and you get an even looser and easier vibe. Because it is a knit (and we have such pretty finishing on the inside) you can easily roll up the sleeves. I say “knit” hoping that it doesn’t sound fake or like a compromise. Let me tell you, this fabric has every bit of luxury as the Sid equivalents – it comes from a very fancy Italian mill that specializes in wool knits like this – but the technique gives it a soft, almost sweater-y feel with more give to it than a traditional woven suiting cloth. You just have to touch it and you will see.

 

Pinstripes Sid's way — GQ in 2009

 

I really love the matching dress as well – and this to me is very Donna Karan-inspired. Or even DVF (another powerful and woman who empowered other women with her easy work dresses). This one has the ultra-feminine silhouette that she was so famous for going on with the nipped-in waist and adjustable tie. It is covered enough for a boardroom, but you will truly feel like a capital-W-Woman. Not a girl trying to dress like a guy. 

And listen, trying to dress like a guy is fantastic. Our brand started out as menswear. I have always borrowed clothes from my brothers, and then my boyfriends, and then my husband… and I have made all kinds of unisex — and unisexy — things on our line. Shirting, trousers, blazers, penny loafers. A men’s-style shirt unbuttoned just so is one of my favorite things in the world. And there is more good, borrowed-from-the-boys stuff coming, as cliché as that line is, in the next few fall deliveries. A very cool, rock-and-roll green velveteen suit that my old punk haircut would have gone perfectly with. A navy Ghost blazer just like Sid’s that is truly fantastic. The world of fashion is truly in the mood for menswear of all strengths and scales. But for now, try a pinstripe and see if you feel like a master – or mistress, rather – of the universe.

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