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Tegan and Sara Talk Power Suits and Sharing Clothes

“There are still so many people who imagine that to wear a suit, you have to be a man.”

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Tegan and Sara in Frank and Oak’s new suiting collection Photo: Frank and Oak

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Canadian twins Tegan and Sara Quin have been making music for a full two decades now. And as their sound has evolved over the years, so too has their style. Back in the late ’90s and 2000s, the duo was synonymous with indie rock, ringer tees, and ripped jeans; today, with two excellent synth-pop albums under their belts (2012’s Heartthrob and 2016’s Love You to Death), they prefer sharp suiting and colorful prints, occasionally accessorized with a slick of electric eye makeup.

One thing that hasn’t changed a bit, however, is Tegan and Sara’s commitment to inclusion — lyrically, socially, and sartorially. Just as their albums explore queerness and gender roles, the sisters embrace androgynous dressing and believe that both traditional feminine and masculine silhouettes are for everyone to enjoy. It’s fitting, then, that they’re the faces of Frank and Oak’s new suiting collection, a capsule of “workwear you can rock in.” Below, Sara discusses the campaign, the allure of menswear for women, and sharing clothes with her sister on tour.

On Sara: Frank and Oak Chalkstriped Stretch-Wool Shirtdress, $139. On Tegan: Frank and Oak Chalkstriped Stretch-Wool Bomber, $129, and Striped Round-Hem Shirtdress, $69.50.
On Sara: Chalkstriped Stretch-Wool Shirtdress, $139. On Tegan: Chalkstriped Stretch-Wool Bomber, $129, and Striped Round-Hem Shirtdress, $69.50.

What was it like shooting the suiting campaign?

For us, the idea of being “at work” often means “on tour,” which has a very different vibe than business or business casual. It was fun for us to slip into a different [vibe] and imagine ourselves in that business role.

We also tend to gravitate towards more masculine silhouettes in our stage clothes on tour, so the suiting and structure of the clothes [really appealed to us].

What draws you to wearing a suit?

To me, the suit has always been something of a costume. It makes me want to stand taller and to be more serious. There are still so many people who imagine that to wear a suit, you have to be a man, and flipping that still carries a lot of power.

A woman in a suit can make a particularly strong political statement these days, of course.

It does have a political feel to it when we aren’t wearing dresses or overly feminine clothes at award shows or in fashion shoots. I think the idea of gender expression through clothing is still accepted, and blurring those lines is an effective way to acknowledge the antiquated binaries.

What are a few of your top tips for styling a suit?

A suit is personal, and trying on a lot of them is important. I also think that, unlike some clothes that you can get away without tailoring, often a suit needs a little nip and tuck here and there to really integrate with the person wearing it. I always like to get the length on both the jacket and pants hemmed so that both my ankles and wrists are visible; it’s a personal preference. Basically, have fun and break the rules!

Who are a few of your favorite suit-wearing style icons?

Annie Lennox was the first woman I ever saw in a suit, and it was amazing. Much has been made about the pop stars of the past wearing suits and gender-bending clothes, but the truth is that I was deeply impacted by the women wearing business attire on shows like Law & Order when I was a kid. Female lawyers, detectives, and judges drew me in, and their choices for clothing alway felt powerful to me.

You and Tegan always wear clothes that are complementary, but not exactly matching. Do you shop together — or share clothes?

We don’t really shop together, but we do tend to gravitate to similar brands. Occasionally we will have our stylist do a big pull of clothes for tour or a big photo shoot, and those items will often be shared between us.