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Power dressing but make it femme? How does that work? Previously, we have seen the rise of the power suit but is there an equivalent - the power dress? An item that has a history of being traditionally feminine yet creates an aura of power. Maybe...maybe not.
Women And A Man In Suits art print by Rene Bouet-Willaumez
We look back at the history of womenswear and its ever-changing relationship to feminism starting with the suffragette movement and the wearing of pants. We look at Coco Chanel in the 30s and see her transition from the corseted to looser fitted jersey pieces. Another notable fashion figure and womenswear piece on the topic being; Yves Saint Laurent’s “Le Smoking '' tuxedo. What all these pieces have in common is that they are a sign of Women’s liberty. Going from restrictive clothing to garments that are comfortable and “empowering” to the Women of the time.
Yves Saint Laurent’s “Le Smoking” tuxedo.
We have to ask ourselves why these garments are liberating and empowering? Is it because of the increased capability of movement or is it the history behind these traditionally masculine garments morphing into a Woman’s fit. We see this today with the power suit. A suit is only seen as powerful because it was traditionally a man’s garment. The dominance of men’s clothing being morphed into women’s clothing for the professional workplace is quite bizarre. Why do Women have to morph to a traditionally men’s style to have authority and be taken seriously in the workplace? While, traditionally feminine garments are the opposite and fail to create the essence of power/superiority. Rarely, do we see traditionally feminine garments worn by people of authority.This could be due to the history behind traditionally feminine pieces and the lack of power and authority women had throughout history.
Kamala Harris in a pantsuit. Retrieved from Time.
Hillary Clinton in some of her infamous pantsuits. Retrieved from Glamour.
Dressing traditionally femme and being in a position of power while radiating the essence of superiority and authority is unpopular, unheard of, and unseen. Take, for example, women in power such as Hillary Clinton, and Kamala Harris; they have influence over masses, and when pictured are almost always wearing a variation of the man’s suit, emphasizing the idea that traditionally a man’s style portrays power and dominance.
Marie Southard Ospina. Retrieved from Refinery29.
As we look at the younger generation, all individuals are stepping away from the traditional binaries put in place by society - dressing freely. Will young professionals be influenced by historically traditional dressing practices? Or will they move away from traditional dressing practices completely?
I guess we just have to wait and find out!