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Full length portrait of a confident african business woman wearing suit sitting on a chair over gray background, holding takeaway coffee, using mobile phone

Sartorial style. Why the women’s suit isn’t going anywhere

By Emily Palmer on 3rd October 2019

The suit. Notoriously known for originating as attire for males only. It was in the 1660’s when King Charles II of England demanded that men who were in court wear a combination of trouser, tie and waistcoat. This was in fact a notion copied from the French King Louis XIV at the time and was the starting point of an evolution into the modern suit for men.

Unsurprisingly it wasn’t until the 1870’s, that the first notable appearance of a woman, (decade actress Sarah Bernhardt), was seen in Paris wearing a custom-made trouser suit in public. Even then, this was a lady who was ahead of her time in many ways because the donning of this male outfit, was perceived as a scandalous, forbidden act.

Nowadays a discreditable outfit on a woman is much more likely to be associated with an overtly revealing dress or bodysuit as opposed to a female simply dressing smartly. Seeing a modern woman carrying herself in a sophisticated and powerful suit is today looked at for all the right reasons, and we have many moments in history to thank for that. From the Suffragette movement inspiring the likes of Coco Chanel to create the first truly female suit in the modern sense in 1914, to Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady to wear trousers at an official function in 1933, and to designers like Yves Saint Laurent who reached icon status with the release of his “Le Smoking” controversial tuxedo for women in the 60’s, to name but a few.

So what more of a fitting way to commemorate the journey, than by looking at our 4 top Suit-able trends for this autumn. Whichever one takes your fancy, one thing’s for sure, this is a staple item for every ladies wardrobe.

1. Soft suits

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#lemaire f/w 2019/2020 #lemairefw1920 #womenswear

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Alongside the streamlined, powerful aesthetic, there’s been an introduction of a much more feminine take on the suit via ruffled and softer balloon like sleeves of wonderment, gracing our presence. These can be seen from designers such as Acne Studios, with the use of ruched sleeves that follow around to the waist in a clinched in fashion. Lemaire’s take showcases tumescent, billowing upper arms and a structured yet soft draping nature, presented from the neckline down, with long tapered sleeves. And Givenchy demonstrates with delicate, romantic ruffles, that ooze style and finesse.

2. Bold colours

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THANKS SO MUCH FOR TONIGHT ❤️ “LA COLLECTIONNEUSE” WINTER 2019/2020

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Exuberant colours are coming into play. Now is the time not to shy away but to champion the delectable palettes on display. Max Mara made this clear in their fall Ready-to-wear 2019 collection in Milan. Models made way in bold shades such as tantalising turquoises, and luscious yellows from head to toe, hands in oversized pockets and shoulders padded and outstretched. Erdem sported an emerald green streamlined suit with subtle clinched in waist and embellishment, which, in contrast added to a more feminine shape. At Jacquemus, Simon Porte Jacquemus got heated in hot pink with a very oversized, relaxed feel in style, consistent with matching accessories and footwear. And not to forget Creative Director Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga at Paris Fashion week who squashed any further doubt with tomato red, providing a softer texture and a slightly flared feel to the suit. What a perfect way to brighten up a colder miserable day.

3. Hard shoulders

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A sharply tailored masculine suit with a strong shoulder, defined waist and fluid asymmetric drape edged with a “Made in England” selvedge. From the Autumn/Winter 2019 collection. #McQueenAW19 #AlexanderMcQueen

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The power suit was showcased with Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Dries Van Noten, Rouland Mouret and Versace to name a few for this season. The list here seems endless but the brand that stood out to me was Alexander McQueen who opted for a very clinched in at the waist trend, on an oversized jacket with hard shoulders. This created a dramatic effect that emphasised the shoulders further – a delightful amalgamation of typically masculine and feminine qualities.

4. Modest and muted

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REJINA PYO AW19 LOOK 34 #RejinaPyoElliotJacket #RejinaPyoBrianaShirt #RejinaPyoRileyTrousers #RejinaPyoSimoneBoots Pre-Order available now on www.rejinapyo.com

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Grey doesn’t have to be gloomy. With a feel of austerity and what some might hail as indifference, there is more to this trend than one might first conclude. There is beauty in the stripped back simplicity. A vestibule from the beauty ideals as of late that are arising – that less is more, and elegance and grace prevail. Who ever said that fashion isn’t thought provoking after all?

Amongst the myriad of greys, Rejina Pyo showcased a delicious balance between the sharp silhouette hugging linears, and a feel of ‘so oversized I cannot find my way out of this outfit’. On display was a noticeable wide panelled fabric waist tie neatly placed, with an enviable air of ease and sophistication around the double-breasted, soft light grey material. The suit jacket leads to a wide, structured upper torso and relaxed arms. Other takes on the grey suit trend include Michael Kors, presenting more of a refined and streamlined overall shape and introducing playfulness and a bit of colour through matching embellished shoes, bag and neck scarf.

It’s been a long journey for the suit, and, suffice to say, the apparel is going nowhere. Not only does it look fantastic, it has the ability to create a sense of identity that makes women feel powerful, capable and confident, with the juxtaposition of an unequivocal air of elegance.

And whether you decide to wear suit jackets with lengthy midi skirts, hitch up the hemline with mini skirts, or perhaps wear with tapered, or wide-legged tailored trousers, the options and occasions for wear are vast and versatile.

Shop the looks

If you are looking for some inspiration online, visit both Net-a-porter and Matches Fashion.