I’m thrilled to see, as I flip through the pages of various fashion magazines this season, that we seem to be poised for the Return of the Lady. The return of fashion that is demure yet challenging, sexy yet sophisticated, original yet paying homage to times gone by.
After a long period of rough and tumble clothing – torn jeans, studded leather jackets, decidedly masculine silhouettes – designers finally seem to be turning back to the idea of celebrating femininity. The light colors and loose dresses of the twenties, with their lace and pearls and figure skimming styles (emphasis on figure “skimming”, not figure “hugging”), the full skirts of the fifties, celebrating fashion that may not be all together practical, but can definitely be made wearable, and the fabulous mod look of sixties London, which hints at sexiness without looking trampy. The menswear trend is still alive and well (I certainly love it), but this season it’s being mixed with pieces that still make it very clear that the woman wearing it is just that – a woman.
I’m overjoyed at the idea that sex appeal is once again becoming not about what you’re revealing, but what you’re keeping hidden. After all, being mysterious is supposed to be sexy, right? We still live in a culture in which the mainstream glorifies the skimpy and barely there wardrobe (just walk onto any college campus and you’ll see what I mean), but the fact that designers are walking in a complete opposite direction makes me unspeakably happy.
Make no mistake, though, these clothes were not designed with men in mind. By that, I mean that wearing a high-necked, 1960s style babydoll dress to your next holiday party is not necessarily going to make the eyes of every man turn to you. Quite frankly, they’ll still probably be looking at the girl in the strapless black minidress and sky high heels.
But that’s just it, isn’t it? Dressing is supposed to be something you do for YOU. We should not dress for others, we should dress for ourselves. Take risks and wear what makes us feel beautiful. These newly feminine styles may not have men gawking, but I have no doubt that you’ll be noticed. Noticed for being different, simply because you’re wearing what you want to wear. And aren’t you better off with the man who does find your style interesting than one who comes over to talk to you because he really wants to have a conversation with your breasts?
These new fashions call us to a higher standard. They call us to be confident in our beauty without showing yards of skin. It’s easier said than done, no doubt, but it’s a challenge that should be taken up by every woman.
Personally, I’m utterly thrilled at the Return of the Lady.
Felicity Jones in the November issue of “Elle”. Ladylike but sightly disheveled.