A black pantsuit has long been a wonderful all-purpose solution, from the universal work-ready pantsuit to a glamorous evening tuxedo, but it seems to have take a back seat in recent times, as trends have steered more towards tizzy floral prairie dresses and day-glo brights.
I had a work colleague who was, it must be admitted, a fashion shopaholic and she owned about 30 different variations on the black dinner suit, all designer, from Commes des Garcons to Giorgio Armani to Yves Saint Laurent and she was always the best dressed person in the room.
They are a classic, 24/7 appropriate and very sexy and grown up, but of course the silhouette changes subtly from season to season just to ensure we are never fully sorted, sartorially.
After doing a huge wardrobe clean-out last week and almost halving my possessions, I decided the one thing separating me from real happiness, the one that would also solve the dress code dilemma of an upcoming round of black tie invitations, was a new black pantsuit.
My old jackets were shiny from too many trips to the dry cleaners, the pants, like my waistline, had seen better days.
Some were too warm: no woman over 50 wants a snug, unforgiving wool jacket anymore, especially in humid Sydney.
I called my fashion editor friend to find out what the new ‘cool’ pantsuit label is. It used to be Givenchy (or was Celine? Or Saint Laurent?) but three or four designers have probably come and gone from all those houses in the past six months, so I needed the inside scoop.
“Boxy and oversized” was the answer to the desired silhouette, which ironically is another way to describe my figure, so that was heartening. It was refreshing to not hear “skinny and elongated” when your go-to choice often has an elasticised waist.
But it was harder to fix on the right designer. This was not a time to shop online, and risk flying the wrong size item across the oceans, so I decided to head for a department store to browse through various designer offerings, old-school style.
I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to be served by someone friendly, to have a nice cozy change room, to be able to say, “This is the wrong size” without tedious repercussions that involve couriers and carbon emissions.
You can find a great pantsuit at various price points, but I eventually settled on a lovely fluid one from Australian brand Jac + Jack, with wide pant legs, and slightly oversize, unconstructed jacket that hung beautifully, with no buttons or fastenings.
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It looked good in the change room and looked even better at home, once I tried it with my favourite silver sandals. Done.
My wardrobe was now complete, edited up to date, on trend, ready to wear. I flopped onto the lounge and started to browse through Twitter.
“Time to ditch those oversized pantsuits and opt for something more feminine! ” was the first post on my feed.