My boyfriend Steve and I have already waved away credibility a long time ago. His n' her outfit posts? Been there, done that, got the bloody badge. Well strictly speaking I was borrowing from his wardrobe and we haven't matched up to the level of THAT notorious Becks n' Vicky leather suit incident circa 1999 YET. I fear going down that path might just be a step too far.
Seeing as we've nothing to fear from the too-cool-for-school camp who'll say "OMG what a tragic couple…", we thought we'd revisit the idea of sharing one another clothes with a collection that is in fact meant for sharing. Hah! We're cleverly hiding behind a designer's work to legitimise another his n' her post so we have Tim Soar to thank.
The British menswear designer has made a rather assured and steady transition to womenswear. One that feels natural and entirely welcome with mini influx of labels that design for both genders in more pragmatic and elegant way. Spurred on by encouragement from the likes of Sarah Mower and Yasmin Sewell and feelng a little frustrated by the market constraints of menswear, Soar turned his hand to a small capsule womenswear collection exclusively for Browns. Now as another store exclusive for Harrods, Soar has designed a Him/She A/W 11-12 collection where the intended sex for each item is intentionally ambiguous especially when you peruse through the lookbook, where the models faces are obscured and you try to analyse the jawlines to see whether it's a he or a she. "For my first proper womenswear collection, it was important to do something coherent across both menswear and womenswear. There was something that I felt was right about menswear for womenswear and the collections mirror each other. With this Him/Her concept, it was very rigorous and it made me very strict with editing pieces out."
The result is a sparing collection that packs a punch in function and having tried some of the key pieces, leaves me (and Steve) feeling like the winter would be that little bit bleaker without say a leather-sleeved varsity jacket with fur collar or a contrast coated cotton sleeve and Hainsworth wool coat. The ideals of fit become rather fluid in this collection. There are pieces where there are a matching men's and women's version – like the aforementioned coat which clearly is a little too large for me because I'm wearing the men's one. Then again even that element of being a touch oversized isn't a total deal breaker. Other pieces are totally separate styles for men and women but can also be interchangeable. The bomber jacket and the painted yellow jumper for instance are men's pieces but they're tempting pieces for me to hijack as well. There are of course exclusively "SHE" pieces but they take on the language of menswear with their materials as well as having deconstructed details such as revealing the layers of a padded shoulder of a suit jacket in a wool waistcoat.
In the trouser department though, the fit isn't so frivolous and if anything Soar takes into consideration the female body more so than a designer who is just dealing with ideas of androgyny. For the women's style trousers, hips and waist are accentuated and though I never believe in the idea of wonder trousers, these ones do indeed do miraculous things to arse, legs and waist. On Steve, his trousers with a velcro front (Steve's first post about Soar's Him/She debut explains more about the combination of sportswear and tailoring elements in this collection) are still very high-waisted but much more relaxed in fit. In both cases, there's a feeling of being "put together" when you don said trews.
After road-testing Soar's men's, women's and unisex pieces in sample sizes, the "Does it fit?" question became quite simple. Can you physically get it on your body? If so, then you can pretty much make the looseness or tightness of the piece work to your advantage. The idea of things "fitting like a glove" doesn't seem so important when it comes to Soar's proposed gender interchangeable wardrobes. For S/S 12, Soar will be taking a slightly different turn for both his mens and womenswear which I'll peek at another time. For now, Steve and I have some tussling to do over a jacket or two…