Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Ultimate "Indémodable" Solution

 "Le smoking" is the single, unique, uncomplicated, perfect, never-think-twice-about-wearing,  indémodable -- ever in-style, never-out-of-style -- "uniform" for women of every age forever.

When Yves Saint Laurent sent out his first tuxedo-clad model during his 1966-1967 haute couture collection he revolutionized la mode. He said he wanted to liberate women. At the same time he expanded the possibilities of dressing for comfort, for power, for freedom. 

In my opinion, every woman should own her own version of le smoking. YSL offered the template some 45 years ago and since, he, and just about every designer on the planet, has played with the theme. No matter a woman's birthday, morphology, coloring. . . le smoking is, as fashionable French women say, a "valeur sûre," you can't go wrong. 

No one needs to own a vintage YSL, or one with any designer label for that matter. In fact, it's great fun to invent one's own Little Black Tux (LBT) for the simple reason that when the disparate parts are assembled they can be of the cuts and combinations that best suit our figures.

For example, I made one of mine by combining my workhorse large, flow-y black satin pants teamed with a fitted Dior tuxedo jacket with a wide shawl collar in grosgrain, long enough to cover my umm, derriere; worn usually over a stretch lace top -- either in white or black -- I found years ago at Banana Republic. I have a collection of cummerbunds in a variety of colors. Sometimes I wear a silk vest under the jacket; sometimes a pleated, wing-collared men's tuxedo shirt.

I have two or three other versions, one with a classic tux jacket and the satin strip down the side pants to match. I mix them up regularly. I've been know to switch off my black satin pants for red or ivory. With the red, the black lace; with the ivory, ivory or black lace, or a black and ivory satin waistcoat.

You get the idea, endless, and I haven't even discussed wearing the jacket over dresses, white, tee-shirts, with jeans -- particularly black jeans -- the pants with just about anything. 

Ines de la Fressange likes her tux with Converse high-tops, but then again she can get away with anything.

Details are vitally important in order to balance that oh-s0-subtly-sensual masculine/feminine vibe created with le smoking, to wit:

1.) Take care with your hair. Nothing too strict (or, if you like slicked-back, soften with accessories as above).

2.) If you wear nail polish, now's the time. At the very least, the look requires a perfect manicure and pale pink polish works with everything.

3.) Perfume. Well, obviously.

4.) Shoes are your call -- high and haughty or ballerines or, I suppose if you dare, tennis shoes of one sort or another. 

5.) A cummerbund, ribbon, smashing statement wide, soft gold leather belt, something jeweled -- something!

6.) If you're girly by nature, add a bow to your tresses; major jewels; a ruffled shirt; lace; rich, jewel-colored or metallic sandals. (If your toes peek out make sure they are a bright, look-at-me hue.)

7.) You know this, but it can never be repeated too many times: buy the best you can afford, either in a preconceived whole or two parts that make your whole. You only need one.

8.) Makeup must be impeccable. Take the extra time to make sure it is. It can be dramatic if you are so inclined. I can't wear red lipstick, something bizarre happens to my face, so I go for the eyes.

9.) Keep your evening bag feminine and small. It can be colorful, glitzy or black.

10.) Feel the confidence that comes from wearing le smoking, walk tall, head high, strut past all the frou-frou and smile. 

Never forget you are above and beyond la mode, you are indémodable. In le smoking, it truly is all about you, not all about the dress.

**All of les smokings are from YSL, except perhaps the one on Eva Herzigova in the center. I liked the black on black, but not exactly the same black, look and therefore included it, but can't verify the designer.


little augury said...

so true. it never fails. thanks again for the fantastic spot you allowed me here to share my Christmas ideas. pgt

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

BRAVO. I will always look classic in one of these...when I was younger, and certainly now, in fact, even better now. For with age, comes a certain beauty that one simply cannot pull off with youth. SPLENDID MA BELLE!!! Anita

Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart said...

TRES TRES sympa! I can just see you. On me it's more of a Gertrude Stein (YIKES!)and less Jerry Hall I am afraid. But I do love flowing black pants and a black soft jacket ( I have a black lace "gardigan" I wear over a black shell) with large earings and ring, and heels- rare occasions-. LOVE this post, and St Laurent for ever.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Tish! I have many beautiful separate pieces in my closet, but needed permission to coordinate them. I'm attending an upscale-casual evening affair on NYE, and after reading this post, feel more confident about my many possibilities!

LPC said...

Couldn't agree more. I do it with a 30 year old velvet 3/4 coat from Jaeger. Hmm. It's been a while. Soon.

Lorrie said...

What a great word - indémodable - it wraps up the concept you discussed in one word.
Gorgeous outfits - I currently do not have un smoking dans mon placard but this post makes me think I should remedy that. Elegant, timeless, versatile - all words I'm striving for.

Mrs Trefusis... said...

What a glorious post. I have longed for a smoking as long as I can remember. so ineffably chic

Alice Olive said...

Completely agree with every thought you've expressed here. The LBT (thank you for introducing me to that acronymn) is an essential. I love my dresses but I love the distinctiveness of the LBT. Elegant and sexy!

Deja Pseu said...

J'adore "le smoking!"

Mine is a J.Crew version picked up at deep discount last year. It goes with *everything!* I love all of these ideas Tish, and will look to incorporate some of them in the new year.

BigLittleWolf said...

LBT - I love it. (Deitrich pulled it off, didn't she? I guess a femme d'un certain age could as well... with the right shoes, naturellement.)

knitpurl said...

Still on my list for too long. It's time to serious-up and serious shop to purchase. Loved the thoughts on what to wear with. Fabulous post my dear.
xoxo, C.

Dorky Medievalist said...

I have never been able to make this look work for me. Something about all one colour, or the structure of a jacket and tailored trousers that just makes me look, erm, short and squat.

Though, unlike Naomi and Kate here, I think I made the fatal error of wearing something underneath the jacket. Next time I try a strapless bra or just some strategically placed double-sided tape. I imagine that no one will even notice how short I look.

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Tish, great post!

I love this look, it's timeless, classic and very stylish.

I occasionally do the same as you and make it up from other pieces. I must buy a cummerbund, great idea!

Kate and Eva's YSL suits are my favourite xx

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

And they are oh, so comfortable! A bonus!

Beth - In My World... said...

Love this...I am on the look-out now for this wardrobe must-have. Merci, merci, merci!

Marsi said...

Wouldn't it be great if you analyzed lots of classic pieces this way, and made little recommendations and do's and don'ts? Yes, it would! This is a fabulous post, Tish.


sisty said...

Thank you, thank you for the inspiration! I put together Mon Smoking this New Year's Eve from things I already had in my closet, and it looked so great that I'm going to wear the same outfit to my brother's wedding next week!

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