Menswear-inspired dressing has become de rigeur in the fashion world, and for good reason: its slouchy, relaxed silhouettes can't help but convey the epitome of cool. At once practical and fashionable, the style is prominent at all levels - from fast fashion to high street to the echelons of fine fashion. Perversely sexy, without having to show an ounce of flesh, menswear cues are perfect for today's modern and professional woman on-the-go.
Of course, menswear "inspired" is just that - inspiration - and the clothes can lose some of its panache when tailored specifically for women. So, for those looking for a more androgynous look than feminised menswear provides (or for those simply wanting to expand their fashion repertoire), below is a cheat sheet of the best menswear brands to "borrow" from for a true menswear look.
Dries Van Noten - The print-mixing master doesn't hold back in his men's collections, which are always as eclectic as his women's showings. In fact, sometimes the restraint that necessarily comes with designing men's clothes actually does Van Noten a service in focusing his use of print and colour, allowing his men's collections to outshine the women's in versatility and timelessness from time to time (a difficult feat in and of itself).
Prada - Can Miuccia do any wrong? As whimsical and fun as the women's collections, the men's offerings can often add just the right amount of edge when the women's collections get a bit too feminine, precious, or "fashion-y". Spring's techno golfer prints should be high on the list of any fashion enthusiast.
Comme des Garcons Homme Plus - Wacky silhouettes, colours, and prints are a hallmark of the CdG brand, so the inclusion of the main men's line, Homme Plus, on this list shouldn't be a surprise. While the inventiveness of the line may scare straight-laced men, it should be nothing but fashion fodder for women who enjoy innovative fashion design. The slimness of the Japanese cut makes the line especially attractive (and practical) for ladies. Even better, the smaller-than-standard cuts mean that the female-friendly small sizes often end up on the sale rack at the end of season.
Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons MAN - A cult favorite with just about everyone, Watanabe's MAN line is hard to get your hands on. Period. But, as with the main Homme Plus collection, the small cut of the clothing favours the fairer sex and it's entirely possible to snag great button-up shirts and outerwear for that reason. The trousers are cut particularly slim (and often cropped), which makes the elusive well-fitting boyfriend pant a very likely prospect.
Patrik Ervell - Even though Patrik debuted a women's line for AW 2011, his bread and butter is men's and it's easy to see why. By slyly subverting preconceptions of traditionally "masculine" clothes, his club-collar shirts, sophisticated prints, and soft colours work just as well on the girls as they do the boys.
Band of Outsiders - Scott Sternberg's signature cropped looks are a match made in heaven for the tomboy. Every piece is game whether it's the shirts, pants, shorts, or accessories. The classic American references that are the hallmark of the brand are a great option if you love a preppy aesthetic, but don't want to end up look like you're named "Muffy".
Gant Rugger - For those who love the preppy aesthetic but are on more of a budget, Gant Rugger is a great resource if Band of Outsiders is a little out of reach. Perfect for classic sweaters and rugged-yet-stylish outerwear, you'll be celebrating your inner eight-year-old boy in no time - and look impossibly chic doing so.
J.W. Anderson - J.W. is a quickly rising star on the fashion circuit, so getting your hands on a piece before he completely blows up is a must. Luckily, J.W. brilliantly designs with an eye to unisex dressing. Yes, the pieces may be merchandised as "men's" and "women's", but don't let the labels fool you - both look equally good on the female form. Simply calibrate your size according to the section you're shopping from (a note: the men's sizes do run quite small, so sizing down one size, if at all, is sufficient), and you're ready to go. J.W. is a great place to start for menswear novices because picking a piece that works is a no-brainer - often that piece (or a very similar variation) is selling in "women's".
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