In 1910s, the suffragettes movement in the UK brought to women the first power suit. It consisted in a blouse and jacket, with a ankle-length divided skirt that allowed women to take long strides, giving them freedom to move. It represented a more active woman.
Coco Chanel was one of the first designers to bring men’s attire to women wardrobe, blending masculine and feminine fashion to bring something much more functional to womenswear (and also to defy the stereotypes of patriarchy). In the 1920s, Chanel designed a female suit as a way to free women from corsets and tight clothes: knee-length skirt and a collarless wool button down jacket with embellished buttons. This enabled women, in such postwar times, to join the workforce and liberate from men.
Even though Chanel’s suit was revolutionary, it was Marcel Rochas that, in 1932, created women’s first pantsuit.
In 1940s, Mexican women started to use a female version of zoo suits, named “Pachucas”, defying once again stereotypes that dictated what each gender should wear.
In 1960s, André Courrèges started to design long trousers for women.
Nevertheless, the most iconic pantsuit for women was created in 1966 by Yves Saint Laurent: “le smoking” – a female version of men’s tuxedo.
In the 1970s, with more and more women joining the workforce, they were embracing pantsuits with man-tailored blazers as a sign of equality before men.
With the 1980s, came the big jackets with shoulder pads giving women a powerful look. It was a decade of eccentricity.
Different from the decade before, came the 1990s with a desire for minimalist clothes and plain suits.
Through time, women pantsuit became a symbol of power but also formality, mainly used at work. However, new generations are embracing athleisure and comfy workwear (which also represents evolution in fashion: people prefer to be comfortable in daily life) pantsuits will be less worn.
Take a look of some iconic women’s suits.