By Ana Tess
In 2020, you are free to adopt almost any item from the men’s closet. The oversized suit jacket looks trendy and cool on ladies. Baggy pants, also a great idea when paired with a ribbed fitted white tank. Bermuda shorts are a perfect solution for the office in the summer. And let’s not forget about oxfords, brogues, and all other types of men’s looking shoes that women adopted over the years.
In the century of gender neutrality, it’s easy to find major inspiration from looking at the past.
The men’s suiting takes their roots back to a French court in the 1800s, but largely developed in England under gentleman Beau Brummell in the early 19th century. He started a trend for dapper dressing, so popular that even the Prince of Wales would admire his dressing routine. Men’s suits as we know them were born in Chesterfield, which later grew into a chain of stores under the same name. It was founded by Montague Burton and a classic tailored suit (which you can still shop now at Burton’s) was named after him to be known as “The Burton classic”.
In the 1970s, Japanese designers landed in France, showing their avant-garde approach to men’s suiting and brought oversized, baggy suits to Savile Row. In the meantime, Italian designer Giorgio Armani adopted feminine lines to men’s costumes with sloping shoulders, lowered buttons, and lighter fabrics.
For women, the history of suiting began in the 1910s with the “suffragette” movement. These women invented the first suit with a jacket, shirt and ankle-length skirt to ease wider steps. On the other side of the globe, Gabriel Chanel designed the first modern women’s suit, as a lady’s lifestyle significantly changed and they needed more freedom in movement.
Another French designer, Marcel Rochas, went even further and invented the first-ever pantsuit for women in 1932. Over 24% of women in America were employed by then, and in order to be on the same level as men, they wore gray, woolly suits, often with matching trousers.
The 1950s were a decade of ultra-feminine style, initiated by Christian Dior. His “new look” with a bar jacket and flared skirt became significant. In the 1960s, women were being urged to leave the workforce and embrace their roles as wives and mothers, forming a new feminist movement. As a result, suits became more casual and suitable for daily life. In addition, in 1966 Yves Saint Laurent introduced le smoking, the first tuxedo suit designed for women.
While the idea of “power suit” perfectly worked out in the 80s, the next decade came with softer lines and a more romantic approach. And the 2000s just became an age of "anything goes”. There are no strict rules now and the choice is totally up to you with these wide variety of options!