Make room for its resurgence. Pantsuits commanded designer runways from
The new cloth isn't necessarily cut out for the corner office. At the
"I'm really feeling the pantsuit right now; it's definitely in my top five trends," said Elle magazine creative director
Pantsuits signal a larger change, said Sharon Graubard, senior vice president and fashion director for Stylesight, which forecasts and analyzes trends.
"We've gone through a period of deconstruction and fluidity, and now we're once again constructing clothes — we're interested in tailoring and matching and structure," Graubard said. "Women haven't worn suits in a long time because they've looked very stuffy, like you're going on a job interview. But these new pantsuits have the potential to be a real fashion item like they were in the '70s."
There's a silhouette and fabric for every body. Patterned and embellished with cropped pants and curvaceous lapels at Louis Vuitton. Streamlined black and belted at Yves Saint Laurent and
"The starting point now are firm fabrics like jacquards and double-knits, even," Graubard said. "We want a fabric that has some guts and can hold a shape. There's a kind of neatness to the pantsuit that's appealing to the eye right now."
Defying its corporate past, the pantsuit is free-spirited this fall, as it was when suffragettes and cabaret performers began co-opting menswear at the dawn of the 20th century.
"The funny thing is that the pantsuit still has power to transgress," Graubard said. "There's something very powerful about putting on a matching pant and jacket. Just make sure it fits perfectly. When you try one on, you should feel that you can rule the world."
Pantsuits: 20th-century moments
1965: Courreges and Yves Saint Laurent unleash a series of pantsuits that revolutionize women's wear, including YSL's Le Smoking in 1966. Helmut Newton immortalized it in a 1975 photo.
1971: Bianca Jagger makes white
1975: "Dress for Success" is published for corporate climbers.
1976: Suits with bow blouses abound in Vogue.
1977: Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana design suits with extreme shoulders.
1983: Trouser suits edge out skirt suits in Vogue.
1988: Suits star in "Working Girl."
1990: Jean Paul Gaultier designs iconic cone-cupped bustier with pinstripe suit trousers for
1991: Casual Friday spells power dressing's demise.
2008: Hillary Clinton pokes fun at her anachronistic "sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits."