THE TUXEDO JACKET
THE TREND: The tuxedo jacket for women, introduced as “Le Smoking Jacket” by designer Yves Saint Laurent in 1966. The tuxedo jacket was part of the “Le Smoking” pantsuit, a revolutionary introduction of a blazer with trousers tailored to flatter the female figure and intended to be worn in the same formal setting as a skirt or dress.
ITS INVENTION: While coined Le Smoking by YSL, this revolutionary fashion trend was modeled from a piece of formal wear only worn by men up until that point. Which is why it was so revolutionary in the first place: The androgynous styles of today were nowhere to be seen during the 1960s.
The seeds had been planted with the drop waist of the ’20s and the masculine cuts of the ’40s, but true credit is due to the man who was Yves Saint Laurent, who pushed the fashion boundaries for women toward Western society’s acceptance of androgynous styling for both sexes.
What YSL did differently was literally introduce a piece of men’s clothing into the stores to be sold exclusively for women. While Le Smoking jacket was marketed as a piece styled for the frame of a woman, it was still a clothing “style” considered for the male body only.
YSL creating the tuxedo jacket was like if a designer today created the man’s dress to be sold in stores: It rocked the fashion world and all the people in it.
ITS INFLUENCE: The tuxedo jacket set the stage for the future of womenswear-that-is-menswear: The pantsuit which would quietly emerge in the ’60s, proliferate in the ’70s and roar in the ’80s; into the Annie Hall inspired androgynous styles of the ’70s and reincarnated as a “minimalist” trend of the ’90s as inspired by the no frills simplicity of menswear.
In one simple statement, the adoption of the Le Smoking jacket in fashion allowed for a future where women didn’t have to wear pretty girlie dresses to feel feminine. Today a girl can wear her boyfriend’s blazer and still feel sexy — and she has YSL to thank for that.