The Birthday Inspiration
Ok. I’ve tried multiple starts to this post and I’ve finally decided that it needs to start with a brief outline of women’s suits (ie: a very abbreviated history). I feel it does a decent job of illustrating the narrow parameters that women’s suits have stuck to.
1914 - Chanel Suit is created; straight skirt paired with boxy jacket done in tweed. It becomes the suit for women and people still rave over it. It’s essentially a rectangle of tweed that makes up a lady suit, that looks good on slender women who lean more towards being shaped like a ruler. If you have curves is clings to your wider parts and doesn’t show shape.
1930s - First pant suits for women are made. They include baggy trousers and padded shoulders and were made out of traditional men’s suit fabrics. They are pretty much just mens suits sized slightly differently to fit women.
—40 year gap where iterations of the same are made. Some counter culture women embrace men’s suits (look up Pachucas and Teddy Girls/Janes), but mainstream women’s suits don’t make major changes—
1970s - The Smoking Suit by YSL is created. It is essentially a tuxedo for women, black jacket with satin lapels, black trousers with satin stripe down the side, satin cummerbund. It’s more fashion than business related and also still created for women with slender/straighter frames.
1980s - Power suits became a thing; baggy pants/shapeless skirts with overwhelmingly large shoulder pads. All this was done in the hopes of both trying to hide a woman’s figure so it wouldn’t ‘distract’ from the work place and make her look more intimidating to her male business peers.
1990s - Suits start to move away from trying to masculinize women, and mostly just move towards adding lace and bows to make them ‘Women’s Suits’. Pussy-bows make an appearance as do ruffled blouses. To be fair, these moves show that women’s suits are starting to move away from copying directly from menswear. However…
2000s- With the dot-coms and workplaces becoming much more casual, suits are pretty much retired outside of very professional office settings. The work place uniform becomes much more casual, and those that need suits have to use the old standbys or weird interpretations of modern silhouettes constructed in suit fabrics. Very boring, tend to look neither professional nor fashionable.
Now that that is over, you can see that the moves made in women’s suits for the first century of their conception were a little lackluster. They tended to lean on stealing from menswear/male shapes instead of embracing a new medium/silhouette, and because of that often stuck to maintaining some aspect of mens suits. By the time moves were made to start making suits more exciting and potentially feminine, casual dress was the new norm and things have rather flatlined until the last few years.
Cue suits being made today for women in pop culture and on major runways. There are actually are some pretty exciting garments out there — especially when compared to what unfolded above. By this I mean that colors and fabrics have been played with. Suits are now being made to fit all shapes women come in, not just those who have more boxy/masculine figures and slender/lithe ones. It’s less about women pulling from men’s closets and rather women embracing a statement of their own.
This all leads to the magic that I find exciting/inspiring below…
I can’t talk about suits without beginning with Janelle Monae. Amazingly talented singer, songwriter, actor, android. Every suit she puts on is fabulous, and she wears them often. So much detailing, so much variation in shape while all still falling in the category of suit. While I do love them (and her), Monae’s M.O. is black and white and I’m planning on mine being much more colorful. All the same, take a look at these!
The lapel action on all of them (specifically the South Western inspiration of the far right one) are spectacular! Because she sticks to black and white 98% of the time, Monae plays a lot with the classic tuxedo as her modern women’s formalwear. I find her to be an absolutely amazing artist in so many respects — and her style is definitely a part of that.
Next I couldn’t go on about modern women’s suits without addressing Cate Blanchett. Does this woman leave the house without putting on a suit?? Probably, but the internet doesn’t make me feel that way. If any woman has embraced the suit as a signature look, it’s Cate Blanchett.
The far right one — the PINK. I had already been mulling around a pink suit when I saw this beaut, and oh my. The way the suit coat shapes over the hips?? That perfect shade of blush? The sunglasses that complete the ensemble?? I’m in love. Additionally, almost all of these suits have the most amazing sharp and perfect lapels.
One suit in particular that I fell in love with and couldn’t get a good photo of was her powder blue suit worn in Ocean’s 8 during the ‘Rose Weil’ fashion show (there suit in the top left that you can’t see well). What really struck me other than the shape and baby blue hue was how it was styled, particularly the narrow gold chain that held her jacket closed. All the clothing in that entire movie was spectacular and if you haven’t seen it yet I recommend doing so just for the costume design!
Lastly I figure I should throw out all the extras I’ve been looking at. This is by far not all the suit images I’ve collected but ones I have been vibing on (just like the ones at the top of the post).
As you can probably see from my inspiration I want a statement, and as much as I usually shy away from wearing prints I may cave if I find the right one. I don’t think I could manage stripes/plaids matching with so little time left to finish, so if I go print it’s going to be an abstract/natural one or something in the brocade family that doesn’t necessarily need an aggressive match.
Clearly I still have a lot to work to get on with, and only a month to go….so fingers crossed I can pull this off.