It was Isaac Newton who said that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. And although it’s safe – very safe – to assume that he wasn’t talking about fashion, it’s a theory that nonetheless holds up pretty well this winter.
How else to explain that, after a long year in lockdown, where most of us embraced sweatpants and few of us made it into the office, the definitive trend of 2021 is tailoring? An aesthetic that used to be the preserve of corporate workers, but is, increasingly, worn by everyone.
This season tailoring is inescapable. “Tailoring has been around for a little while. However, as more brands are taking on the trend, we’re seeing a huge variation of options around,” says fashion editor Lucy Wood, who styled this story and points to the oversized shirts, suits and chic tailored trousers filling the shops right now.
This winter, Lucy adds, tailored pieces are being worn more casually than ever – often oversized, with linen blends and paired with sneakers, singlets or sandals.
To help prove tailoring’s versatility, we asked three women who have mastered trend to talk to us about why they love and how they wear it.
Emily Nolan on why she loves tailoring
One woman who knows a lot about suits is Emily Nolan, the tailor behind E. Nolan, which operates out of a shipping container (or “Aladdin’s cave”, as she describes it) in Melbourne’s Hawthorne East. Her clients include high-powered businesswomen, young professionals, brides, modest dressers “and women who hate shopping”.
“Growing up, I had really big bosoms and all I wanted was a Zimmermann dress, but I couldn’t fit into them,” says Emily, who perfectly understands her clients’ frustrations with off-the-rack clothing.
She loves suits for their ease – “I like that I don’t have to think about [what I’m wearing] too much” – and their versatility: “I wear them with loafers, chunky trainers…even a heeled boot.”
In 2021, Emily’s bespoke suiting clients are increasingly going for lightweight jackets. “Whether that’s because they’re just popping a jacket on for a Zoom meeting or because they want to be able to wear the jacket on the weekend, I’m not sure.”
In person, her enthusiasm for tailoring is palpable. “What excites me most is the position of the pant. I wear a higher rise trouser, but you can position the trouser [waist] where you want.”
Her tip for tailoring novices? Consider double-breasted jackets (“they feel less corporate”) and branch out from black. “Midnight navy, for example, is better on the skin than black.”
Lola van Vorst on the power of a great suit
Sydney PR Lola van Vorst is another fan of suits. “I wear a suit at least once a week, and if it’s not a full suit, then just the pants with a tank.”
Generally, she wears her suits with dressed-down pieces like tanks and T-shirts, as well as boots and sneakers, but loves that tailoring can pull a look together. “Honestly, what’s not to love about a good suit? They instantly make you look like you’ve got your shit together.”
Tailoring is a relatively new addition to her wardrobe.
“I’ve always loved the idea of a suit but as a young girl, I never knew where to find one. I feel like there was a real lack of ‘cool’ women’s tailoring but that’s all changed now with so many accessible labels coming through.”
Sam Wong, stylist and fashion writer
It took Sydney stylist and writer Sam Wong a while to fully embrace a suit. “I was always into blazers, but I wasn’t quite game enough to wear a matching, proper suit until recently.”
Her first suit was an oversized, boyish suit from Georgia Alice – and since then she hasn’t looked back. “I feel as though suits are quite versatile – you can play them down with a sneaker or dress them up with heels and jewellery.”
The secret to a great suit, she says, is fit. “It’s so important. I do like things quite baggy, but there’s a fine line between oversized and too oversized.”
The beauty of a suit is that it offers longevity. “I’m really interested in building a capsule wardrobe that’s not trend-driven and has pieces that I can wear for the next 10 years and still be true to my style.”
Stylist: Lucy Wood
Photographer: Kristina Yenko
Hair and make-up: Lorella Giannini
Canvas by Charlotte Kosch