How to wear your dad’s suit and look like Lady Gaga

Image via Instagram @marcjacobs

Words by Ruby Staley

The real power shoulder.

In the depths of my parent’s walk-in wardrobe in front of the body length mirror, I indulged in a round of dress-ups.

After wading my way through my mum’s ‘going-out dresses’ and ugly capri pants, I set my sights on dad’s side of the room. In a quest to recreate the oversized suiting I’d seen at the Spring/Summer 2020 shows this September, my dad’s wardrobe was more attractive. Though I never thought I’d say it, what hung in his closet was a beacon of a more 2019 sartorial finesse.

As is the new way with fashion’s seasonality, it seems that contemporary runways are playing catch up with pop and Internet culture rather than the other way around.

So while my inspiration stemmed from the street style I’d seen peppering the footpaths of fashion capitals, my mission was mostly inspired by the oversized Marc Jacobs suit Lady Gaga donned to ELLE’s Women in Hollywood event.

I reminisced on Gaga’s moving acceptance speech in which she addressed her wardrobe choice, and explained that Jacobs’ daring design had brought her to tears. This cascade of emotion upon first sighting was repeated in the way she felt when she first put it on, and the process of dressing became an act of power reclamation.

“In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut,” said Gaga.

So off I went, my dad’s well-loved suit in hand, to find my own version of Gaga’s inner truth.

But after throwing on ill-fitted blazer after ill-fitted blazer, I just felt tiny. Swallowed up by piles of tweed and starched cotton, I didn’t feel empowered at all.

I shifted and twisted my body in various angles in the hope I would somewhat resemble Gaga or, at the least, a runway model in the oversized, ill-fitting combo. But it was to no avail.

I realised that attempting to replicate Gaga’s suit – one that had been custom created by one of the biggest fashion designers in the world – was a recipe for failure. I had to re-appropriate this trend to suit my body and my style (sans a tailor, designer and stylist).

I would have to do it on my own.

After trying and failing and then trying again, I decided to take a different approach and incorporate bits and pieces into my existing outfits – rather than wearing my dad’s gear from head to toe. Abiding by a few guidelines, but not restricted to, I navigated this fun (and eco-friendly) trend.

1. When in doubt, pick one

Sometimes – particularly in my case – separating the suit pieces can be the solution. Wearing an oversized blazer as a dress, with a large shirt underneath for extra thigh coverage can do the trick. Alternatively, wearing some oversized slacks with a belt and a fitted sleeveless shirt might offer some much-needed shaping.

2. Don’t be afraid to tailor the tailored

For the suits your dad is finished with, make it your own. Don’t be afraid to cut, crop and alter a vintage pair of pants, or a jacket that just isn’t right. Cinching the waist or taking up the hem can do wonders.

3. Jewels, jewels and jewels

Adding a bit of femininity is the pay-off for losing shape in the oversized silhouette, so for those who prefer androgyny maybe leave this glam aside. Jazzing up a simple blazer or suit with a stack of necklaces or a pair of heavy earrings takes you from drab-dad to silver fox.

4. Choose your base layer

While jewellery adds some top-level drama to your ensemble, a base layer is just as important. Choose a stiff collared shirt for a ‘70s librarian look, a racerback singlet for more figure-hugging masculinity, or a flowy silk button-up for a more timeless French je ne sais quoi.

5. If the hems touch the ground, try again

Quickly hemming or cropping a lengthy pair of trousers can make a world of difference. Unless you are in the 0.1% of the population who enjoy wearing 6-inch heels on the daily, I’d opt out of the overly long pants – not just for your benefit but also for the cuffs’ sake.

So go, wear that suit, save the world and make me and Gaga proud.

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