No one dresses for date night quite like Beyoncé, and for a night out at West Hollywood foodie destination Sushi Park with husband Jay-Z, the new mother of twins brought a bit of runway chic to a strip-mall setting. Beyoncé arrived dressed in a striped wrap dress by contemporary label Alexis with a plunging neckline, puffed sleeves, and seersucker print―and made it her own thanks to the use of several statement accessories. Layering on gold necklaces, a pair of white cat-eye sunglasses, and a logo-covered Louis Vuitton x Supreme clutch, Beyoncé added swagger to a summer style that could have seemed standard.
Knowing how to spice up a look is a skill, but sharing an ensemble creatively on social media takes talent. And in addition to posting a pair of sultry snaps taken from across the table that night, Beyoncé gave fans an all-angles video of her outfit set to Yo Gotti’s “Rake It Up,” taking her selfie game to the next level. Her biggest accomplishment with the look, though, might have been wearing the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration in a way that feels fresh. By avoiding the monogram jackets and hoodies that have been embraced by seemingly every influencer the last few weeks in favor of the stark, graphic bag, she proved that the most important accessory isn’t a must-have designer piece―it’s a fresh point of view.
How fashion's new obsession with office dressing made me feel like an 80s throwback
It’s a normal Tuesday morning in the office and people are staring at me. They look me up and down as I fill my water bottle. They give me side eye in the lift. This is not an anxiety dream. This is real life. My appearance is inspiring unspoken questions in my colleagues. Namely: what on earth is she wearing? And why?
What I am wearing is an Isabel Marant suit. It is woollen, grey and double breasted, with burgundy stripes and softly padded shoulders. In the Guardian’s proudly dressed-down environment, where jeans and T-shirts are practically compulsory, I am an aberration.
It’s not just scruffy journalists who don’t wear suits in 2017. The world of work is in flux, and the world of workwear with it. In an age of telecommuting and the gig economy, the old rules are eroding. Formal attire is not extinct, quite yet, but it is endangered. MPs are no longer required to wear ties in the House of Commons; titans of industry wear hoodies as often as pinstriped suits.
As we face these anxieties, trust the fashion industry, in all of its contrariness, to back the corporate look in a big way, with designers from Céline to Calvin Kleinsending suits down the catwalk. Meanwhile, a wonkier take on office wear – shirts spliced with blazers, herringbone jackets fashioned into strapless dresses – has become the calling card of brands including Palmer//Harding and Monse. Menswear has gone managerial, too. At Balenciaga the concept has spread from the clothes to the entire brand aesthetic, with business cards used as show invitations and boardroom carpet providing the backdrop for ad campaigns.
Fashion’s corporate fascination has piqued my own interest in trouser suits for the first time since graduation. My usual work clothes are – and I deliberately employ a fancy word here to make this seem more aspirational – deshabille. The hard-cornered boardroom aesthetic isn’t part of my fashion vocabulary for the same reason that I don’t have a LinkedIn profile. Working in the dressed-down media is a big part of my identity, as is the lack of delineation between office and weekend clothes. On the moodboard in my mind’s eye is Kate Moss’s bedhead hair and the tousled insouciance of Carine Roitfeld’s casually misbuttoned silk blouse. Sadly, crumpled chic is rather less iconic the way I wear it – not least because I’m 5ft tall – but I’d rather be a bit of a mess than look as though I’m trying too hard.
Wearing a suit feels physically weird. It’s a lot more fabric than I would usually put on my body. I’m hot. So hot that I tug at my collar like a dodgy banker in a movie about insider trading. Meanwhile, my colleagues appraise me, coolly. “It’s a conspicuous look,” one says. Another adds that I look “intimidating” and “a bit like a carpet”. “You look fucking powerful,” another says. He is smiling, but I sense a chasm between us. The stiff wool boxes me in, surrounds me completely. I feel weirdly isolated, as though I have set myself up in opposition to the tribe.
The next day I trot into the office in high heels and a Stella McCartney checked coat-dress and one co-worker trills: “Oh, here she is, executive realness has arrived.” This phrase, well-known to viewers of Paris Is Burning and RuPaul’s Drag Race, is pertinent. Wearing double-breasted power tailoring does feel like a form of drag; a fantasy and a performance. It’s also screamingly 80s – other colleagues compare me to David Byrne and Working Girl – harking back to an era when power dressing manuals such as John T Molloy’s The Woman’s Dress For Success Book advised females to smash the glass ceiling with their shoulder pads. Molloy’s manifesto makes exhausting reading. Blouses should not be too high-necked or too revealing. Haircuts should not be too long or too short. Suits should ape men’s tailoring but femininity should be subtly preserved. Women should avoid sweaters and floral patterns “which say ‘lower class’ and loser,” he writes, charmingly. The history of women getting dressed for the office is so fraught that it almost feels as though somebody didn’t want us there.
Still, power dressing has its benefits. I don’t feel small any more. The finer details of my body shape feel irrelevant, which brings with it a sort of confidence. Occasionally, I interpret my own behaviour differently. After work, during my customary sprint from the tube station to my son’s childminder, I feel less like an utter failure for resorting to running and more like a high-flying, productive individual for whom walking is not sufficiently quick.
I like this feeling of pulled-together efficiency. But the exaggerated lines of this outfit – the shoulder pads – are making me self-conscious. I feel like a throwback to an era when a different battle was being fought. Power dressing is still fraught with difficulty for women, of course, as the furore caused by Hillary Clinton’s scrunchies and Theresa May’s leather trousers proves. But the suit is not the neat solution that it pretended to be in the 80s. Author and editor Tina Brown, a keen suit wearer until recently, says: “When I look back I see how very overdressed we were with bigger shoulders. There was a sense that we had to be almost aggressively put together to make a statement, which is not where we are now or where we want to be.”
The next outfit on my agenda is very different: a wilfully anti-fashion fitted shirt, tie and tie clip, inspired by the menswear catwalks of Balenciaga, Martine Roseand Gosha Rubchinskiy. This looked achingly cool on the catwalks. Recreated via an M&S shirt and Acne Studios trousers because my body is not long enough to do menswear, it does not look cool on me. Alistair O’Neill, professor of fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins, reminds me that this trend is all about context. Fashion designers have long been fascinated by workwear – think of the lumberjack shirts worn in city centres, not forests. This time it’s white-collar work being mined for inspiration. True Gosha disciples, he points out, would wear this “to a club, or to go shopping, or when off to the skate park. The dissociation from office culture is what will make the clothes so enjoyable to wear by those who will consume them as fashion.” Sadly, I am not hip enough to make this look work. I feel a bit like Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, with a touch of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, brisk and no-nonsense, as though I am holding an invisible clipboard. Or, as a co-worker says: “I’m scared that you’re about to make us do a team-building exercise.”
The fourth and final look is a breeze, literally and figuratively. It’s a billowing take on a striped shirt from Palmer//Harding. For the first time in days, I am not overheating. When I walk into the office my colleagues seem relieved. “I’m into it,” our stylist says – the ultimate compliment. Then she strokes the fabric of the cuff, appreciatively. I am approachable, again.
Meanwhile, I’m glad that, for the most part, shoulder pads have gone the way of fax machines and Filofaxes. But I would wear a suit again.
The latest cosmetic surgery trend? The ‘Melania makeover’
Every time has a face or two that come to represent what we are supposed to find most beautiful (usually: white and thin). Now, with depressing inevitability, it seems as if Ivanka and Melania Trump-inspired faces are climbing the most-wanted list at plastic surgeons’ clinics. Norman Rowe, a surgeon in Manhattan, New York, has been seeing several women a month who cite Ivanka as their face inspiration, although, to be clear, we are talking dozens here rather than thousands. “I never saw [anyone who wished to copy Ivanka’s face] before the primary,” Rowe told celebrity website Page Six, “since the summer of ‘16 … [it has been] maybe four a month; one a week.”
Some women, said Rowe, were spending up to $40,000 (£30,000) on temporary fillers and Botox, and up to $50,000 (£37,000) for more invasive procedures such as rhinoplasty and cheek implants. Earlier this year, Franklin Rose, a surgeon in Houston, Texas, told USA Today: “Ivanka is sort of the new style icon for plastic surgery.” (He also reportedly offers a “Melania makeover”.)
In the UK, Tijion Esho, who founded the ESHO clinic and specialises in non-surgical procedures, says he has had “a few clients” who have mentioned Ivanka as an inspiration – one was someone who had met her recently and was taken with her jawline.
He says it is physically possible to change one’s face into something closer to a celebrity’s, as long as there are enough structural similarities to begin with, but he says it would be unethical. “When someone says they want to look like someone else, your first concern should always be: has this person got body dysmorphia? Are they trying to attain something that isn’t realistic?”
Last year, Julian de Silva, a London-based surgeon, created a picture of his “perfect” face, made up of a record he claims to have kept of the most-requested celebrity features. The most popular nose was the Duchess of Cambridge’s, while other patients asked for Keira Knightley’s eyes, Penelope Cruz’s lips and Miley Cyrus’s forehead.
In the more than 10 years he has been practising, Esho has seen trends of celebrity faces come and go, at least for female patients. For a while, he says, “everybody wanted to look like Angelina Jolie. Then people wanted to go for a Jennifer Aniston look – softer. Then it was Jennifer Lopez – fuller features.” In recent years, he says, the Kardashians have been the most influential, “where people want [strong] brows, strong cheekbones, larger lips – more exaggerated features”.
It has a lot to do with exposure, says Alan Matarasso, a cosmetic surgeon in New York – and, yes, over the last year he has seen an increase in the number of patients who mention the Trumps when talking about what they would like to change about their faces. “There’s no question that whenever an attractive, popular figure appears in the media a lot, you will get this,” he says. “It’s human nature. It’s not exclusive to these two women, but [they] are front and centre now. But I could get all the exposure in the world and I doubt people will be walking into plastic surgeons’ offices wanting to look like me. So they also happen to be the right look at the right time.”