His and hers style by the years
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Updated: Sunday, February 20, 2011 16:02
An age old phrase about "who wears the pants" in a relationship only scratches the surface of the kinship between men's wear and women's wear. More than just a symbol of a power struggle between the sexes, the similarities and differences between men's and women's clothing highlight the roles males and females hold in society, as well as the changing perception of body image. The Museum at FIT explores these changing aesthetics through a chronological exhibit entitled His and Hers.
The first period of His and Hers, 1750-1899, shows the changing dynamics of ornamental formal clothing. Starting with a dress and suit from France's royal court between 1755 and 1785, these garments depict the idea that exquisite patterns and fabrics were not a question of masculinity or femininity, but indicators of social order.
Visitor to the exhibit and Fashion Merchandising major Amy Korbonits, 20, calls this time period "surprising," saying that she was "shocked by the fanciness of men's clothing at this time."
In the middle period of His and Hers, 1900-1949, women emphasized slimmer figures, as opposed to the voluptuousness aspired in the previous period. Women at this time enjoyed sleeker styles, while men's suits became less shapely and more box-like. A notable piece here is an evening ensemble by Muriel King in 1937, which shows the introduction of the woman's "pants" or "divided skirt."
The exhibit's final period, from 1950 to present, shows a break in the barrier of male distinction and female chastity; men and women's clothing began to switch roles like never before. From Betsey Johnson's little black mini dress in the 1960s to Giorgio di St. Angelo's "hot pants" in the 1970s, women were beginning to exude sexuality. Yves Saint Laurent introduced the sexy women's tuxedo in 1982, and popular TV show Miami Vice made pastel colors and slim fits popular for men in this period. Fast-forward to today, and you'll see Raf Simmons designing men's over-skirts and Burberry placing stiletto heels on what looks like a men's boot.
Musing over the pieces, artist Laurie G., 46, "expected more androgynous styles in this period," but according to the exhibit, these styles had not gained much popularity.
FIT's His and Hers exhibit places men's and women's wear in revealing new lights and has even served as an inspiration. Perusing the exhibit, fashion designer, 19-year-old Lazan K., attributes the exhibit to making him want to "play with gender" as he designs, "but keep it wearable as well."