It’s a bit old fashioned, but I like 21st birthdays, although there’s nothing legally meaningful about them anymore. We can both drink and drive at 18, and as for the keys to the door – our kids normally get these when they start high school. But 21 is when many of us start to get a sense of individual style. We are about to enter the workforce and understand the importance of a good impression. So for this reason, it’s wonderful to give our children or grandchildren an heirloom fashion item for their 21st birthday, and for girls, an excellent choice is the YSL Le Smoking tuxedo jacket.
Created in 1966, Le Smoking was quite a shock. Although Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo had played with men’s style clothing since the 1930s, Yves made it fashionable for every woman. It was seen as both a feminine and feminist style – allowing women to exert their power and influence by wearing clothing normally worn by men.
French actress and style icon Catherine Deneuve said, “The thing about a tuxedo is that it is virile and feminine at the same time. I don’t remember my first one – I think it was in the early 1980s – double-breasted and very severe. It really does make you feel different as a woman, it changes the gestures.”*
Versions of Le Smoking tuxedo are manufactured by YSL most seasons and can be purchased online via stores such as netaporter.com. Prices are usually upwards of $2500.00, but your daughter or granddaughter will treasure and wear it for a lifetime.
Of course there are alternatives to the classic YSL jacket and many designers and fashion houses have their own versions. LA brand Band of Outsiders does classics with a twist. The cool American label knows how to nail the androgynous look for women and has all the essential pieces. The Band of Outsiders satin-trim crepe blazer is $640 and available here:
* New York Times “ A Toast to Yves for Le Smoking” 2005
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