If there are two things that I’ve learned about myself while attending fashion school that I didn’t know before, it’s that (1) even though I still die for a chic-ly bad-ass all-black outfit (particularly if there’s leather involved), I am a hardcore fan of mixing and matching color and print (blame in on the SoCal in me) ; (2) I have an ongoing obsession with menswear.
So I guess it was no surprise to me when my favorite trend of this past year (and, judging from the Spring 2013 fashion shows, a trend for next year as well) was a culmination of both: smart and sophisticated menswear-inspired pantsuits, that were both fun and polished, thanks to brilliant colors and bold, neck-to-toe patterns and prints. Even those pantsuits that didn’t fit in on the color-and-print parade were anything but basic: ornate details shone on both the black heavily beaded suits that Alber Elbaz came up with at Lanvin, as well as the elaborately pleated and peplumed beige jacket that Zac Posen paired with a beautifully flowing and darted wide leg pant.
With the ubiquity of the celebrity stylist these days, of course our favorite fashionable celebs were quick to jump on the trend. Some were daring enough to feel pretty in prints, others kept it
safe classic, opting for a less loud pant-and-jacket combo.
And I guess it would be rather declasse to talk about women’s pantsuits without taking a look at great moments in women’s pantsuit history, from designers Andre Courreges and Yves Saint Laurent, to female power and/or fashion icons such as Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Bianca Jagger, Diane Keaton, Grace Jones, and, yes, Hillary Clinton (who I added to this list because, if nothing else, every time she continues to wear her well-tailored monochromatic pantsuits, it feels like a giant sartorial middle finger to anyone who dares suggest that Madame Secretary pay more attention to fashion — she’s third in line to take over the presidency for democracy’s sake, not third in line to take over as editor-in-chief of Vogue).
Despite the pantsuit’s place in today’s fashion, as well as fashion history, some still feel discomfort at the sight of a woman who dares to don a pair. After discovering that the state of California actually had to pass a law giving women the legal right to wear pants in the workplace as recently as 1995, I wasn’t surprised, but reading posts like this well-written piece from Jezebel.com still continues to bring out the fashionable neo-feminist indignance in me.
But I guess one can’t expect a piece of clothing that embodies androgynous sex appeal to be without it’s controversy – after all, the pantsuit is the one item that holds the duality of masculinity mixed with a potential seductive femininity (on Hillary? No. On Bianca Jagger? God, yes). It’s the power of the pantsuit, printed, or plain.