At Stitch and Co we’ve long created bespoke suits for a good range of execs . After all, a perfectly-tailored suit conveys power, style and a way of identity. That’s why we decided to explore the triumphant history of the woman’s suit.

Although women’s suits might not go back to the 1600s the way men’s do, they nevertheless have a colourful , boundary-pushing history. The primary notable appearance of a lady making a man’s suit her own was in 1870 when actress Bernhardt began wearing her “boy’s clothes” publicly. At the time, a lady sporting a man’s suit was scandalous, but this controversy didn’t keep her from further challenging gender roles – she played the lead in Hamlet in 1899. Before her time in some ways , Ms. Bernhardt was the first champion for what has become the sartorial calling card of recent women.

By 1910 the suffragette movement was fully swing and with it came women who were bolder and more active. Rallies, marches and direct action required quite just shaking off dated 1800s ideals – they required less restrictive clothing. Enter the Suffragette Suit. This predecessor to the fashionable skirt suit was a pointy counterpoint to the favoured “hobble skirt,” the mainstream fashion of the time that was so narrow at the ankles the wearer ‘hobbled’ around.

The Suffragette Suit was an indicator of progressive woman and inspired icon and fashion dame Coco Chanel. Possibly the foremost well-known designer to form women’s suits, Chanel gained popularity during the primary war by eschewing corsets for tailoring and is widely credited with making the primary truly female suit within the modern sense. Unlike its predecessors, the Chanel suit retained a way of glamour and femininity.

Although women’s suits might not go back to the 1600s the way men’s do, they nevertheless have a colourful , boundary-pushing history. The primary notable appearance of a lady making a man’s suit her own was in 1870 when actress Bernhardt began wearing her “boy’s clothes” publicly. At the time, a lady sporting a man’s suit was scandalous, but this controversy didn’t keep her from further challenging gender roles – she played the lead in Hamlet in 1899. Before her time in some ways , Ms. Bernhardt was the first champion for what has become the sartorial calling card of recent women.

By 1910 the suffragette movement was fully swing and with it came women who were bolder and more active. Rallies, marches and direct action required quite just shaking off dated 1800s ideals – they required less restrictive clothing. Enter the Suffragette Suit. This predecessor to the fashionable skirt suit was a pointy counterpoint to the favoured “hobble skirt,” the mainstream fashion of the time that was so narrow at the ankles the wearer ‘hobbled’ around.

The Suffragette Suit was an indicator of progressive woman and inspired icon and fashion dame Coco Chanel. Possibly the foremost well-known designer to form women’s suits, Chanel gained popularity during the primary war by eschewing corsets for tailoring and is widely credited with making the primary truly female suit within the modern sense. Unlike its predecessors, the Chanel suit retained a way of glamour and femininity.

Women’s sartorial liberation continued within the jazz age as women widely began wearing trousers for leisure activities, particularly tennis, equestrian and cycling. Until that point (and even afterwards in many places), a women wearing pants was considered cross-dressing and was often criminalised.

In 1933, Roosevelt became the primary First Lady to wear trousers at a politician function. She had been out riding and didn’t have time to vary before hosting the annual White House Easter spring roll . Although her clothing choice was accidental, she embraced the unconventional attire, asking for variety of photos in her eyebrow-raising outfit.

And then there was Dietrich. Together with her films Morocco (1930), Blonde Venus (1932), and 7 Sinners (1940) she effectively turned international perceptions and women’s wear generally on their heads by wearing her iconic tuxedos and white double-breasted suits into infamy. Dietrich’s public championing of the pant suit in both her professional and private life coincided with designer Marcel Rochas creating the primary ready-to-wear women’s pant suits. In 1939 Vogue published its first spread featuring women in trousers. By the 40s , silver screen powerhouse Katherine Hepburn had joined the fray. together with her highly publicised preference for wearing trousers on and off set she helped solidify trousers as a part of everyday women’s wardrobes.

The female suit saw a quick lull in popularity after the second war as many sought a return to traditional domestic roles after the mass influx of girls into the wartime workforce. Dior’s “New Look” embraced the 1950s housewife look with nipped waists and full skirts. But by the 1960s the suit was back fully force as an unprecedented 40% of girls had joined the workforce. This decade saw many watershed moments in equality with the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a Presidential act banning discrimination supported gender in 1967. The sixties also saw Andre Courreges’ reintroduction of the suit into elegant day and evening-wear.

In 1966 Yves Saint Laurent sealed his icon status with the discharge of his “Le Smoking” tuxedo. This feminine tuxedo was so before its time that a lot of hotels and restaurants wouldn’t permit women inside while wearing it. Then in 1971 Bianca Pérez-Mora Macías married Jagger and mesmerized the planet during a white, Yves-St-Laurent-designed Le Smoking outfit that went down in bridal attire history to not be overlooked, the seventies also saw the increase of unisex clothing in subculture and therefore the addition of the Title IX education amendment that allowed girls to wear pants publicly schools.

By the 1980s the share of females within the workforce had grown to over 50%, and therefore the decade became known for the the long-lasting “power suit”. With Georgio Armani championing androgynous shoulder pads and therefore the over-sized jacket silhouette, the stereotypical search for women in business was born.

In 1993 trailblazing Senators Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley-Braun led the charge to overturn the ban on women wearing trousers on the Senate floor. 

Since then we’ve seen an unprecedented rise of females in business, politics, and athletics. We’ve also seen increased attention on women’s rights with the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, and a record number of females helming major corporations. Not surprisingly, the women’s suit is additionally getting renewed attention within the world of fashion. Countering the trend in menswear toward ever more casual looks, numerous women’s wear designers have introduced updated collections aimed toward the feminine professional.

Not to be outdone, Stitch and Co Bespoke is taking the lead on bespoke tailoring for females. To all or any of you we are saying “welcome to the SCB club.”

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