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Women's business suits

Sunday, 07 December 2008

womenIn the early twentieth century a business suit became a recognized feature of a lady in a men's world. Those daring women were laughed at and often they appeared to be the reason for social outrages. Despite all these difficulties the women faced a new fashion was created. This new fashion was a fashion of a business woman.

The tale of a business suit could have started even before it mattered who wears it, whether a woman or a man. However, at that time there was no need in business suits. Clothes were needed to fulfill the simple and practical needs such as to protect from cold or heat.

The patriarch society that existed in almost every country in the world at the beginning of the new era made its first business suit for a woman. We know it now as it is seen in the prints and engravings of the historians: emphatically feminine, unsuitable for work and mostly used to attract ones as an eye-candy. Only churls and such could afford wearing wide skirts and coats whereas women from the upper classes were doomed to wear corsets, tiny narrow shoes and complicated hair-dresses.

In nineteenth century the only female uniform a woman should have worn was the ones from gymnasiums and universities. In 1834 an emperors decree was introduced and so scholars were ought to wear special uniform-coats. The decree was introduced firstly for boys but girls also had to wear uniform dresses. However those could not be considered as business suits or suits at all: classical corsets, luxuriant skirts and a mantle covering the arms and shoulders.

In the end of the nineteenth century only women were allowed to work in production and manufacturing. Therefore a need for a comfortable business working suit appeared. It was designed with the help of those elements and combinations that were used in a classical dress. In the beginning ladies' business suit was seen as a challenge for morals and traditions even though the suits didn't differ as much from the dresses which the non-working women usually wore. There were the same long skirts and jackets that only different in colors and textures of cloth.

There was no such revolution that could have introduced a female business suit into fashion in the nineteenth century. But big transnational companies that started to appear in the beginning of the twentieth century have done their bits to change the look of a worker. The suits first and foremost had to be comfortable. Another point was to have every single worker look no different to another one and therefore they all had similar clothes they wore.

There is no doubt that the First World War had changed the style of a business and working women. The time had changed the lives of women: emancipation, feministic movements, revolutionary thoughts, lack of army forces, all of these factors got combined. A girl that was brought up during the war period differed so much from her grandmother and mother that started to work in the nineteenth century. At those times the suits hadn't been considered as a part of the image of a lady and had been very functional and comfortable.

Business ladies of the new generations not only wore jackets and skirts to the work but also went out as representatives of certain professions. There was a revolution going on in a place where a lady with a short skirt appeared. (Oh dear God, this is terrible! I can see her ankles! What if she puts one leg on top of another!? Her knees will be seen!) The lady from now on didn't talk to other women about ostrich feathers but talked with men about cars and politics.

Marlin Dietrich was considered as the style icon of the 1930-s. She was the first woman to appear in public with a men's suit on. The scandal biography did nothing but helped her to become the ideal lady for her coevals and the inspiration for the generations to come. However a woman in a men's suit still was a somewhat shock for the society that still believed in the traditional set of morals. Plus men did not want to give up their role in the society which a lady with a tie tried to take away.

Men's tie didn't become a part of an image of a business lady, not as much as the jacket, shirt and classical skirt anyway. George Sent who first used her lovers bowknot two centuries ago still was an exclusion and was considered as a creative person, one of those who usually appear a bit cranky, that's all. Such things would be considered normal for ladies only around one hundred years later.

World War Two changed the way society looked at a woman in trousers. Nobody cared whether it was a man or a woman at the machines. Working suit had to look in a way to maximize the capacity and nothing else mattered. So ladies in pants simply became something normal and later on trousers became something fashionable. Despite the fact that the first ever trousers were worn in the middle of the nineteenth century, they became a part of the fashion in 1960-s with the help of Eve Sent-Loren.

The last radical change in the woman's closet was introduced in 1950-1960-s and was linked to airplanes. Ladies were accompanying their husbands in business trips and traveled a lot on their own. It was easier to travel with a small light bag as compared to a large suitcase in which a large and heavy bag would fit. Plus a small bag fitted the jacket perfectly. This is how Jacqueline Kennedy wearing a bright suit and going down the airplane ladder made «mini» an element of a business clothes style.

Everything that was introduced to the business lady style later on in the decades to come was only a continuous trend that happened. Nowadays it is normal to see a classical office-lady in culottes and a strict men's shirt sitting beside a female designer wearing extravagant jeans and rubbed jacket. Business style of a new century becomes more and more similar to casual style and ethno-style elements and details are seen in it more often. Some time ago a business suit was a sign of class and diversity whereas today it becomes a part of everyday life.

Polina Kolozaridi

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