Is This Item of Clothing the Answer to All Your Prayers?
Here’s the thing… undoubtedly there’s two types of women who will want to read this article. You’re either a confident, successful woman who can kick some serious ass (congratulations are in order if that is you) or you're striving to be exactly that. If you are the third unknown species who has stumbled across this post for any number of reasons, I implore you to read on anyway. A good dose of power dressing might be just what the doctor ordered.
Collectively most think of expensive clothes/ supermodels / runways etc. fringing the term ‘fashion’ (all true). What we forget from time to time is its basic function of serving as a powerhouse for individual expression. Fashion is a tool that we can all use to “decide what you are, [and] what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live” (spoken by the man himself, Gianni Versace). If you would prefer to cut the crap, maybe the phrase, ‘fake it till you make it’ might strike a chord. Fashion is the one tool capable of turning you into Celine Dion when you really feel like Daria (if you know this cartoon character can we please be best friends?). ‘The Fabrics of Culture’ says personal adornment has an uncanny ability to reinforce, create or disguise mood. Picture this, you have landed an interview in two hours for your dream job, but you’re on deaths door with a cold given to you by your now ‘ex-boyfriend’ (I really hope this has never happened to any of you by the way). Do you; a) try to reschedule knowing full well the job will probably be filled today b) cancel and miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime or c) chuck on a boss ass power suit and nail that damn thing.
Women everywhere know the complex history of the power suit, spending the last 10 decades fighting the sharp divide between the sexes. The garment soon became a symbol of power, freedom (and controversy). Ambiguous in nature, the power suit has forever been a push for equality, but now in the 21st century with a self-assured woman in the corporate world, its connotation has changed. We no longer need validation from males, or to prove ourselves to the opposite sex, but sometimes we need it for ourselves. In a new world dominated by social media and the press, the history of the innocuous pantsuit somehow has the power to make us feel stronger, more invincible.
"Fashion is about something that comes from within you."
- Ralph Lauren
Let’s talk about how far we have come. It might conjure up anything in between Marlene Dietrich sporting men’s tuxedos or Hilary Clinton’s beloved pantsuit. It is hard to believe that as recently as the early 1900s in America, women were getting arrested for wearing pants (could you imagine the consequence for ‘active wear’; what a sight). We can all credit Coco Chanel for being the first to take menswear designs and repackage them for women. Profusely elegant, Chanel’s designs were for a post-war woman looking to protect her newfound freedom without being considered bitterly radical. If you love a dose of sexy shoulder pads as much as I do, designer Marcel Rochas is your man. The aggressive power suit that was introduced in 1932 caused a one-way street down controversy lane. Vice pointed out that even the apex of fashion reporting, Vogue (fashion editor Elizabeth Penrose) anchored against us saying “women who pad around in hairy sweaters and flannel bags, on duty and off; [are] letting themselves go”. I’ll go ahead and tag 1966 as the ‘James Bond’ era to give you a taste of the tuxedo Yves Saint Laurent designed for women (Le Smoking). Gold earrings traded for bow ties, this was the last notorious move before the power suit hit full throttle in the 1980’s.
We have now reached an age where power suits are no longer to prove a point, rather for our pleasure. Many of us are finally writing our own scripts, and determining, for ourselves, what we can and cannot wear. Almost every celebrity including the likes of Rhianna, Beyoncé, Emma Watson and Kathrine Hepburn prove the pantsuit is some sexy attire we should all invest in. If you have read this whole post and would still rather be seen in a banana costume than a suit, I suggest you find your own version of power attire, whether that be a pretty floral number or your lucky g-banger.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND WRITTEN BY: KATELIN RICE