Women are spoilt for choice when it comes to clothing. Their fashion finds inspiration everywhere, including men’s fashion. No wonder then women have wholeheartedly embraced the suit and the blazer and made it their own. Indeed, the simple combination of trousers and jacket has taken on a whole new look once women started wearing it. It has its own name too: the pantsuit. How can one forget the pink Chanel suit worn by Jacqueline Kennedy on that fateful day? From Margaret Thatcher to Hilary Clinton to Ellen DeGeneres and Kerry Washington, the pantsuit has become an icon of women’s rights and strength. How has this entire journey of the suit for women played out? Let us take a look:
Actress Sarah Bernhardt shocked Paris in her “boy’s clothes.” This was in the 1870’s. By the year 1905, many women had started wearing fitted jackets with long skirts, not just for their outdoor activities, but for daily wear as well. In 1914, Coco Chanel created her version of the suit: fur trimmed jacket and ankle length skirt. Huge stars began to be seen in slack suits and a new trend was born.
In 1966, the iconic designer Yves Saint Laurent created his evening pantsuit for women, Le Smoking. This design is present in every new collection of the brand. However, even before that, designers were offering the pantsuit to women. The pantsuit really came into its own in the 1980s what with its bright colors, big buttons, and shoulder pads creating a huge demand among office going women. Soap operas and shows, movies, and magazines all kept up the clamor around the pantsuit. The change from skirt to pants owes a debt to the suffragette movement that created a divided skirt — for ease of long strides — to go with the blouse and jacket. A symbol of power dressing and glamour, Beyoncé in a polka dotted number, the pantsuit has undergone some transformation to become more adapted to a woman’s style.
The jacket was always part of the avant-garde process of the pantsuit, but nothing quite typifies the jacket as much as the Coco Chanel jacket. When it first came out in 1954, it revolutionized fashion and gave women more comfort than before. Gone were the impossibly tiny waists of before. The jacket was feminine and gave a great silhouette, although more than that it was comfortable, with an inner lining of silk, a thin chain, pockets, and embellishments in the form of braids and buttons with the fashion house icon. Over the years, while other designers have given it their own interpretation, they have essentially stayed true to the ethos of the original design.
Over the years and decades, the pantsuit and jacket have gone through changes. The boxy shoulders and shoulder pads have given way to neat and slim silhouettes and styles. Pant suits are not always full sleeves or long in length. They are not formalwear alone, either. They come in varying lengths and cuts, prints and designs, and with different kinds of fasteners and stays. They can update a wardrobe in no time and give a woman a look of self-assured confidence.