Since the founding of our website over 10 years ago, classic men’s style has always been our forte–and classic style for women a hotly requested topic! So today, we’ll discuss the reasons why the two fields are so different, and why we haven’t (and most likely won’t) start a “Lady’s Gazette.”
One of the reasons we love classic men’s style is that it’s just that — classic. When referring to clothes, “classic” typically means a garment or design of an elegant style that is not greatly subject to changes in fashion. About three times a week we get asked if there is a Lady’s Gazette, why we haven’t started one, if we can point people in the right direction, and why we are not covering women’s topics in the first place. Unfortunately, we can’t and won’t venture to oblige to you. Here are our reasons why!
Reason #1: It’s Simply Not Our Area of Expertise
As a regular follower of the Gentleman’s Gazette, it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that we consider ourselves to be experts in classic men’s style. However, that shouldn’t suggest that we’re 100% clueless about women’s styles through time! In fact, it’s the knowledge we do have that’s convinced us that a Lady’s Gazette wouldn’t be the thing for us.
Women’s style, in terms of how it evolved, what materials are used, and how it fits is just an entirely different ball game compared to classic men’s style. Also, the further you go back in time, the less overlap there is between classic men’s and classic women’s garments. On top of that, the Gentleman’s Gazette was born because classic men’s clothing and style were my hobby and they became my passion. In my spare time, I would travel to see craftsmen such as tailors and shoemakers, simply to learn more about the garments and the items, as well as the craft.
We believe there are far more qualified women and men out there who can speak on the subject of women’s clothing and style and I urge you to seek them out. That being said, do we know the equivalent website or channel to the Gentleman’s Gazette for women? Sadly, we don’t and we’ve never encountered one–but we’ll share a list of YouTubers that can point you in that direction towards the end of this post.
Classic style doesn’t really work in the same way for women…
Now that we’ve stated the main reason why we don’t cover classic style for women, let’s dig a little deeper. Frankly, my wife and business partner Teresa and I have gone over this question for years. Together, we’ve come to the conclusion that classic style simply doesn’t work for women in the way that it is for men and there are a few reasons why. Of course, Teresa and I collaborated on this post because we felt it was important to have the input of a woman who wears women’s attire and who wishes there were more classic items for women.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a closer look at these two images of the fashion couple powerhouse from the 1980s and ’90s, Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Charles could wear the exact same ensembles today and not look dated in the slightest. On the other hand, the same cannot be said for Diana who was a fashion icon in her own right in her day. In no way do I mean this to reflect personally on either Charles or Diana, it’s just a really good point to show how differently women’s fashion and men’s fashion have evolved over the course of 30 years.
So, why is it that most people from today’s point of view would describe Charles’ outfits as “timeless” and Diana’s as “dated?” First of all, we believe it is because there is no foundational garment in a woman’s wardrobe today. Unlike in menswear where the suit has been a foundational garment for the better of a century, you do not have this clothing piece in women’s wardrobe today. You may argue that that’s not really true but if you look at, for example, a pair of jeans or khakis or a suit, they’re all very similar. For men, it typically consists of a pair of pants and a shirt and maybe a jacket.
Most garments that men wear are just a variation on those three things. You might say, what about that dress? Yes, in the 1950s, the dress could have been considered as a foundational garment in a mainstream women’s wardrobe but that is no longer true because there are many women who would never think about wearing a dress or a skirt, for example.
So aren’t pants a foundational garment for women today? Actually, pants for women weren’t even really acknowledged until the 1930s. Of course, women have lots of choices. They can wear pants, rompers, skirts, dresses, shorts, jumpsuits, and many other things but none of those is foundational. Because of that, it’s difficult to say what is classic and what isn’t when there’s so much variety and certain fashion periods favor one over the other.
Reason #2: There Was No True “Golden Era” of Women’s Fashion
At least in my mind, unlike in classic men’s fashion, where maybe the 1920s and 1930s are considered by many to be the Golden Era, you don’t really have a comparably strong decade in women’s wear. Though just like in menswear, the modern era also started for women in the 1930s. As a result, women’s fashion today is often a mix of styles that appeared in the last 70 to 100 years.
To be fair, men’s fashion and trends are likewise often a composition or a mix of what has been around in about the same time frame. That being said, if you stay clear of the extremes in menswear, meaning you avoid five-button jackets with super wide or super skinny lapels, and you go with a medium-wide lapel and maybe two buttons, you’ll have something that won’t look dated throughout the decades.
Reason #3: Women’s Trends Are More Extreme Than Men’s Trends
Because of that, women’s fashion that is more than 20 years old often looks more vintage or costume-y because they just went all in one direction and that, in turn, makes it much harder to come to the middle to find a classic look that can be worn throughout the decades. For example, if Teresa and I go to a vintage store, we can shop for clothes from the same era and hers will always look much more costume-y, vintage, and very specific to a time period compared to the stuff that I can find.
So, why exactly is that the case? Well, first of all, I think women often wear patterns or certain colors on much larger surface areas. If maybe a floral print is popular in menswear, you can just find it on the tie, not in a suit whereas for women, they would have the pattern printed all over. On top of that, concepts of fit for women have been much more extreme. Just think about the oversized look for women that you may sometimes saw in the ’90s or maybe the ’80s and that is really absent for men, except maybe looking at the zoot suit.
Yes, men’s clothing has absolutely also undergone a certain transformation if you compare the Armani blazer from the 80s with the padded shoulders, the wider lapels, and the low gorge, and a jacket that was slightly longer to for example something in 2020 that is much shorter, cut trimmer, and with no shoulder padding–there’s certainly a variation that’s visible. Comparing it to women’s clothing where you go from super oversized pants to super skinny pants, it’s just a wider spectrum and because of that, it’s less timeless and therefore, not classic.
Furthermore, women’s clothing has mostly been designed to be less practical but more ornamental and it lends itself to just being more extreme. Just think about the corset, for example, or the bustle, or the 1950s flounced skirt.
Reason #4: Women Have A Broader Wardrobe Today
In the modern world, ladies have a much broader and more varied wardrobe than they used to. In the 1950s, men would wear suits to the office and women would wear dresses or skirt sets.
Today, anyone can wear anything but unlike men, women’s clothing options have expanded dramatically in the sense of what garments women can wear and combine according to mainstream culture. Many of those garments originally stem from the menswear realm, just think about the biker or motorcycle jacket, work boots, or a blazer.
However, the crossover in the direction from the women’s world to the men’s world is very limited now. This means that in conventional terms, women have a much broader spectrum to pick from which makes it much harder to pick a classic because trends are generally more short-lived.
Reason #5: Womenswear Garments Tend Not To Last Long
Last but not least, the average quality in women’s wear is much lower than menswear which makes it much more difficult to find a garment that will actually be able to physically stand the test of time. No matter if you look at a cashmere sweater, a pair of socks, or jeans, generally, the quality level in women’s wear is much lower.
So, what does “low quality” mean in this context? Well, first of all, it starts with the fabrics. Oftentimes, women’s fabrics are all polyester or nylon and if you find wool or cotton or cashmere which is something that you typically find more in menswear, then they’re heavily blended. These two materials simply pill more easily and they attract stains to remain more permanent in the garment and just age more poorly which is a reason why you simply don’t want to wear them for that long.
That then begs the question: why is the quality in women’s wear so much lower than in menswear on average? Well, it has to do with the expectations and how long it will be worn. Traditionally, there was a fall-winter season and the spring-summer season. Well now, we also have resort season and pre-fall season and things turn around much more quickly, and with the advance of fast fashion, there is an interest to produce less expensive garments that can be worn once or twice and then thrown away or donated.
With consumers being happy that they have to pay less for garments than they had to 40 years ago and the ever-changing seasons, there’s simply no reason for manufacturers to invest in quality anymore. At the Gentleman’s Gazette, though, we’ve always been very focused on high-quality items because the classic style in itself requires you to have a high-quality garment because a blazer or a suit with a really nice silhouette that pills and are not colorfast isn’t really a great option.
So, in our opinion, these are the reasons why classic style for women doesn’t really work for better or for worse. That’s also the reason why we have zero intentions to create a Lady’s Gazette. We stay in our lane and focus on classic gentlemen’s style and lifestyle.
Classic Women’s Style Resources
I want to acknowledge that, again, we are not experts in the realm of women’s style or classic women’s style and that there are better places to look for information on the matter.
Women’s Style Channels
If you’re interested in vintage women’s fashion and fashion history, check out the channel of Karolina Zebrowska.
If you’re more interested in foundational topics such as styling, combining, recognizing quality or fashion history, check out the channel of the French fashion designer Justine Leconte. To my knowledge, French fashion is often considered to be more effortless and therefore classic and so, Justine’s take is particularly valuable if you’re more interested in quality and the classic side of things.
If you want to be inspired as a woman and know how you can incorporate classic men’s clothes into your wardrobe, I suggest you check out Sonya Glyn from Sartorial Talks. She does a fantastic job of wearing classic men’s suits but with a very feminine note that really suits her style.
Ladies, a book by Claudia Piras & Bernhard Roetzel
There is also a book about classic style for women called Ladies, authored by Claudia Piras and Bernhard Roetzel who himself is well known for writing the book Gentleman. If you look at the original editions, they very much look alike. The content is very similar but the Gentleman’s version has been translated into many languages and has been republished in many different editions, whereas the Ladies’ version is still from 2003. In this book, some things may look a bit dated today, but there may be a thing or two that works for you and that you would enjoy.
So, these are our reasons for not covering classic women’s style, and why you most likely won’t be seeing a “Lady’s Gazette” from us. Still, if someone else is up to the challenge, we’ll be the first to support them!