Suit, as worn in standard corporate etiquette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)”]Careerwear has evolved over time, inspired by the complicated and changing roles of women in society, including the workplace. In this age of casual conservative fashion trends, traditional conservative dress codes rule the average office. Although every job has its own uniform, the rules of professional dress have maintained some staple characteristics, regardless of the era or occupation.
Women’s workwear trends are driven by an awareness of the need to project the “appropriate” appearance message. To play it safe, traditional color palettes for professional wear have been inspired by men’s trends. Navy blue,
black, brown, grey tones, white, pinstripes, and tweeds dominated. Women’s wear adopted the palette, enhancing it with some pops of bright color, pastels, organic prints, polka dots, an assortment of knits, textures like patent leather,
and feminine design details.
The moment in time, and what type of message you’re trying to send at the office determines your look. The three piece suit speaks loud and clear, and is positively comprehended by your peers. A timeless wardrobe asset that when properly chosen sustains longevity through trend cycles and can easily be mixed with other coordinates. Blazer, button down blouse, and bottoms(skirt or dress pants) is the career woman’s uniform.
Suits were pretty casual from the early 1900’s(most vocations didn’t require a “suit”) until WWII. Women were barely wearing pants, and for the first time had to take on untraditional gender roles. Working men’s jobs during the war eventually translated trends from the factories to the catwalks and department stores.
Through 1960 menswear trends continued to dominate well after the war was over. The Women’s Liberation Movement was gaining popularity, along with a ” khaki casual, denim subculture “(Work Clothes, (Chic Simple):Casual dress for Serious Work(Chic Simple Guides).
The 70’s brought back some of the more traditional prints, but also introduced sheers, neon colors, unbuttoned blouses, big floral prints, big collars, and slightly shorter skirts. High Style Businesswear(Work Clothes, (Chic Simple):Casual dress for Serious Work(Chic Simple guides) or “power suits” were a visual message to the world in the 1980’s. Double breasted
suits with broad shoulders made a statement, ” Wear a man’s suit, you can do a man’s job.” Yet by the 1990’s there was a return to a relaxed dress code, denim was back at the office.
Every individual’s concept of style history varies by experience. What influences a mainstream trend, doesn’t necessarily define your style. Born in Germany, Fay Roberts says, ” I always followed international trends while we
lived in Europe. Once we moved to the states I attended EBONY Fashion Fair fashion shows every chance I got. Being raised in a military family, and working in government, I’ve leaned towards feminine tailored suits w/a traditional palette throughout my 25 year career. ” When asked about 5 trendproof items every girl needs, she said this:” Stick to the basics,
they never go out of style, and you can find good quality for reasonable prices:
1. black blazer
2. black skirt
3. white button down blouse
4. black dress pants
5. appropriate accessories(black shoes,black belt,scarf,briefcase,jewelry) ”
As women continue to climb the professional ladder, professional dress is balancing more with personal style. Lower necklines, brighter colors, shorter skirts and more form fitting silhouettes break the mold in offices everywhere. Still inspired by menswear trends, but not defined by them.
Stay tuned, MUAH aaand scene…
- What Suit is Right for You? (amog.com)