The History of the Pantsuit and Its Revival in Fashion

It wasn’t until Coco Chanel debuted her first suit that the outfit ensemble became a significant part of fashion history. The skirt set became emblematic of Chanel that employed traditionally masculine features. Daring it was and soon after, pants began to rise in popularity. Gaining momentum, pants began to make an appearance on Hollywood’s finest and in subcultures such as the Teddy Girls that embraced the traditional masculine dress. It wasn’t until Yves Saint Laurent debuted the iconic ‘Le Smoking Suit’ that pants, namely pants suit became a staple in women’s fashion. As many of fashion’s most beloved items, they were hard-pressed to be accepted into society. But as dress goes, it has revolutionized womenswear and has become a feminist symbol.

Undoubtedly, no one missed the 2016 American presidential campaign, one most definitely for the history books. Besides its obvious political impact, it created buzz in the fashion world. By stepping out in a bright red pantsuit during her first debate, just like Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, Hilary Clinton had trademarked a sartorial aesthetic to her name. Quick to hop on the bandwagon, her association to the ‘controversial’ two-piece style, hurried along the fourth-wave feminism. 

Fuelled by the #pantsuitnation, designers took to the runway. Maria Grazia Chiuri debuted her first collection with Dior with the now iconic and ever so coveted “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirt. Following suit, Prabal Gurung debuted t-shirts with a similar slogan, “The Future is Female”; Jonathan Simkhai wore a “Feminist AF” shirt and Missoni’s iconic moment where models were sent wearing pink pussy hats down the runway.

The fire hasn’t died and as Simkhai so eloquently puts it, we are all ‘feminist AF’. Instead of spelling it out, slogan tees have taken a nice backseat to the revival of one of the first emblems of feminism, the pantsuit. From high street to the red carpet, we’re seeing crops of women rocking the set. Whether it’s power shoulders, fitted, wide-leg or cropped, we’re all on board for its comeback.