As you know, the next Sewcialists theme month is “menswear” and today I’m bringing you a selection of “womenswear patterns with menswear details,” in case any of them take your fancy for the challenge or give you a few ideas.
Menswear and womenswear are both big old general terms that can encompass a number of different looks and fashions, culturally, geographically and stylistically. As Wendy also mentioned in her sister post, “Menswear Patterns for Women,” one of the principal differences in fitting a traditional man’s or woman’s block is the lack or presence of curves, respectively. Women have a higher body fat percentage, resulting in a myriad combinations and permutations of peaks and troughs when comparing the “average” female to the “average” male. Therefore, a menswear silhouette tends to be straighter, less-fitted at the waist and with sharper, more acute angles.
I’ve tried to choose patterns out there that reflect this, but they could only ever be a small sample, so definitely drop a note in the comments if you know of any others that could fit this theme. Alright, enough chat — let’s check some patterns out!
The Gentle(wo)man About Town
Let’s start at one extreme: with a couple of items that are usually regarded more as men’s formalwear: the tuxedo jacket and the waistcoat (or vest for our American chums). Yves Saint Laurent famously provided his own womenswear take on it in the 60s with “le smoking” (current version, above) and Style Arc have a less eyewateringly-priced version of the upper half with the Bronnie tuxedo jacket pattern.
It’s been softened with some feminine lines but is still undeniably a tuxedo jacket – and is available in an impressive size range, as per all their patterns. If the hanging-with-Mr-Darcy look is something that tickles your fancy, there’s also the Chelsea waistcoat/vest pattern from the same designer.
Ablaze with style
Staying with outerwear for the moment, the blazer is having a fashion moment (again) and there are plenty of great patterns that stay true to the garment’s menswear roots:
I love this oversized Marcelle blazer from Republique du Chiffon with its wide collar and masculine lines. Style Arc again has some great choices for menswear-inspired blazers — the McKenzie is a solid double-breasted option. The Named Clothing Aava blazer has a slightly more feminine design with princess seams for easy fitting, but the wide lapels have an undeniable 1970s feel; while the Joe Blazer from Ready to Sew ticks all my menswear blazer boxes with some bonus retro detailing.
The classic shirt
Going down a layer, there’s nothing that says classic menswear more than a crisp, contoured shirt and there are a lot of patterns that offer those elements. Here are just a smattering:
The Seamwork Natalie shirt might not be what you immediately think of when you consider a classic shirt, but it really reminds me of the 50s camp or cabin shirt and I think it’s a great look. Meanwhile, the Classic Shirt from Liesl and Co. is exactly that — and with Liesl’s fantastic instructions would be a particularly good punt if you haven’t made a shirt before. Grainline’s Archer shirt is another of those popular shirts that appears on many people’s planning list at some point, while Itch to Stitch’s Montana shirt is a nod to the classic western shirt, with a tie up version as View A, but the classic shape for View B.
If you want to let your hair down and try something a little more experimental, I really love the DP Studio Le 606 shirt dress in two parts — they’re both really fun takes on the tailored shirt. The new Olya shirt from Paper Theory also has some really interesting construction detail and I have to say I’m very tempted to give this one a go myself.
The Lower Half
Alright, so… shirts, jackets… but what about the lower half of the body? There are plenty of classic pants and chinos patterns around to try.
Some examples are the Chi Town Chinos by Alina Sewing + Design Co. or the Port trousers by Pauline Alice, which are both great examples of that relaxed chino fit, while Simplicity 8056 or Seamwork’s Channing trousers will give you a really classic tailored trouser shape. For a more contemporary menswear silhouette, take a look at Republique du Chiffon’s Maurice pants.
How about menswear-inspired clothes that are less tailored, with more of a casual vibe? One look I really love is the ubiquitous sweatpants and over-sized hoodie outfit — I love a good hoodie and usually go up a size or two to get that look. Try the Hey June Halifax hoodie or the 2795 from activewear specialists Jalie. There are numerous sweatpants patterns around — the True Bias Hudsons are a well-known indie pattern, and I also like the look of these 10/2017 Burda pants.
Have you thought about using traditional workwear garments as an inspiration source? Garments such as dungarees and boiler suits (not to mention jeans) are all items that have been adapted from heavy duty workwear and are a perfect way to achieve a menswear feel to your outfit.
I picked out a few patterns I think have that kind of influence. First, the super cool Jean-Paul boilersuit from Ready to Sew. I’m not sure I can pull this off, but props to those of you who can! Also Named’s Harriet Lumberjacket, which is a feminine take on the ultra-macho logging coat (or could be an aviation jacket too, I think?). Dungarees are a classic example of old-school workwear and there are so many dungaree patterns around you could choose — I’m using RDC’s Danielle dungarees as an example. Finally, the really cool Honetone jacket by Marilla Walker, which really reminds me of a shopkeeper’s overcoat or something. And I mean that in only the most complimentary way!
As we come to the end of this post, here are a few suggestions for accessories. Sure, they’re a quick fix, but they look like they’d be pretty fun to sew: how about this tie project from Sew Over It? Or to go more casual — a baseball cap from Style Arc. Quick and easy!
And finally: well, you may or may not know that I’m Scottish and as I said at the top, the term menswear can be very subjective, according to the perspective of your own upbringing, choices and background. For me the prime example of a womenswear pattern adapted from menswear can be nothing else but this:
Oh yeah! I actually had no idea this Folkwear Scottish Kilts pattern existed until I started researching this post, but I’m delighted it does! I’d love to hear of what you think of when you hear the term “menswear” and if you have any other pattern suggestions — I’m sure there are tons!
I hope this gave you a few ideas and happy sewing. I can’t wait to see what everyone makes!
Note: The Sewcialists is a hyper-inclusive editorial site. We recognize that “Menswear” as we use it in our theme month is a very loaded term, and we use any gendered reference in these discussions to denote the most broadly accepted “traditional” categories only, without wishing to prescribe or proscribe what any person can wear. We recognize all gender identities and the choice to dress how one pleases.
Claire MacPherson is a Scottish sewist living in the depths of Bothell, Washington, who loves nothing more than a good chat about fabric and patterns over a cup of tea. Her blog can be found at bellecitadel.com and she is on Instagram here.