Pantsuits spring into action as a fashionista's stylish expression of freedom and panache. There will be more busy print pantsuits and busy pants mixed in with solid coordinates at retail to let you walk on the wild side of fashion. Geometric, faux snakeskin, aquatic swirls, jacquards, pop-art and abstracts hit the runways at Prada, Peter Dom, Louis Viutton and Jean Paul Gaultier heading the pack. The pantsuit couldn't be more modern, than it is today, coming full circle with a coordinating coat or jacket to set a woman free and to complement a woman's demanding lifestyle:
THE FASHION TREND If you are timid about prints, the key to wearing this print trend is ‘do not tread into uncharted territory,’ stick to traditional solids and throw in a jazzy new jacket to update the look. If you can go full throttle and carry off wearing a matching jacket-and-pantsuit style, in one of those audacious prints, be careful what kind of print you choose to go head-to-toe. You could be perceived as very daring, a ‘take notice of me,’ type of gal and that might work in social occasions, but the office critics might put thumbs down on the look.
FASHION HISTORIAN The pantsuit was introduced in the 1920s, when a small number of women adopted a masculine style, the ‘garcon,” boy look, including pantsuits, hats and even canes and monocles. Seems to me that with such a shortage of men, who were sacrificed in WWI, women just needed to have some semblance of a man around. When WWII came about and Rosie the Riveter and her friends worked in factories it seemed a practical solution to climb aboard in ammunition and airplane building work wearing pants for modest distraction. Fashion designer, Andre Courreges introduced trousers for women as a fashion item for women in the late 1960’s.
YSL’S PANTSUITS In 1966, designer Yves Saint-Laurent introduced his Le Smoking, evening pantsuit for women that mimicked a man’s tuxedo. In 1968, the designer’s line of “Safari” suits, transformed the functional hunting outfit into town wear for women, and by 1970, with the acceptance of trouser suits, the Western woman’s silhouette was assured for career wear. By the way there was a time when restaurants would not seat a woman wearing a pantsuit or trouser. Such an event happened to me at one of those tony French restaurants.I had to run over to one of the department stores to buy a skirt. Nothing like that happens today; because ‘boy’ would they lose business. So uptight was the reaction to pantsuits that until the 1990s, women were not permitted to wear pantsuits in the United States Senate.
A LOOK AT THE PAST Trouser, harem pants, pajama style has been acceptable as an element of Orientalizing ensembles, for sport, as lounge wear and beachwear. Trousers were popularized as an expression of iconoclasm by celebrities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn. Today, fashionable women opt for the lady pantsuit in bold and adventurous prints with accessories to coordinate. Miuccia Prada, for one, included patterned shoes and purses to match some of her pantsuits in Milan. Such bold and pop-art prints that are offered today are not meant for the faint-at-heart fashionista, but the choice of an individual who can carry off such bravado. Aside from being fashionably correct one great advantage of the pantsuit is that you cannot be a victim of upskirt photography or accidentally expose yourself by leaning over or sitting awkwardly in a short skirt at a television interview or board meeting.
For what it is worth, remember that it was Amelia Jenks Bloomer, who created the first feminine garment approximating pants called ‘bloomers.” The outfit liberated women from skirts, whalebone corsets, petticoats, bustles, and created an unprecedented freedom. Bloomers did a lot to influence the popular feminine bicycling costume of the 1880s and from then on women sprang forward mobilized into the future.
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