When you think of what you’re going to throw on for your 8am in Dwinelle, it is probably not a pantsuit. But according to the main source of my information (women’s lifestyle magazines) pantsuits are, in fact, in. While you might only associate the pantsuit with Hillary Clinton, there are ways to style it so you don’t end up looking like you’re chained to your cubicle. But first, let’s take a step back and look at the pantsuit evolution, because this clothing item has an iconic history.
The 1960s was a revolutionary time for women.The second wave of feminism was taking off and the debut of the Le Smoking Suit, which some herald as the first pantsuit, was created by Yves Saint Laurent. In 1966, Women’s Wear Daily declared that “American women are going to want to burn all the clothes they have when they see this.” Nonetheless, wearing sporting slacks instead of skirts was still extremely controversial at the time. Socialites in Manhattan were literally barred from dining in restaurants simply for wearing Le Smoking.
The business boom of the 1980s, and the dress for success trend, saw a national rise in the pantsuit. At this point, the trend of shoulder pads and oversized pants was meant to disguise feminine bodies: taking the focus off of gender, effectively causing women to dress up as men. A famous symbol of this era was Melanie Griffith’s boxy suit in Working Girl highlighting the boxy silhouettes woman wore in and out of the workplace. Yet, this trend didn’t make its way everywhere: woman still could not wear pants on the senate floor until 1993.
Today, the most prominent place the rise of the pantsuit can be seen is in the political world. Hillary Clinton famously wore a different pantsuit seemingly everyday during her Presidential Campaign. And at her husband’s State of the Union address, Melania Trump wore a white pantsuit, styled over a white blouse; an outfit that had been synonymous with Clinton and feminism, almost a sort of anti-Trump uniform. Melania was sending a message of her dissatisfaction with her husband, using her clothes as a subversive tool to convey her feelings because she knew she could not speak them.
Politics today has invaded almost everything, including high fashion. Marc Jacobs paid homage to the cooperate 80s style, Loewe featured sliced open jacket sleeves, and Balmain included an army marching in a wide range of styled suits from glittery metallic to completely see through.
Pantsuits epitomize everything special about fashion: without speaking, the clothes that adorn you can be a reflection of everything you feel. A century after women could be arrested for wearing pants, the powerful suit still reflects the aspirations of women seeking to defy gender norms.
So now that we’ve covered the history of the pantsuit, here is the perfect look from slay my look that will suit any boss babe or aspiring boss babe.
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