In the 1980s power dressing was taken to its extreme. We were subjected to big hair and big shoulders. Suits were the go-to work attire for women as they gradually gained more traction in the workplace. Remember those Armani designs from 1980?
And of course the fabulous Joan Collins and Linda Evans, power suit and big hair from the Dynasty days.
As the 1980s wore on, shoulders became less exaggerated and trousers more commonplace. There were new fabrics becoming available – with lycra giving stretch and freedom of movement. Although wearing lycra to work was often seen as career limiting as it was too casual to be worn for business.
The 1990s saw further changes, skirts were much shorter and style neater and more fitted. More designers were creating working wardrobes for women, all still focussed on ‘standard’ sizes.
Moving on to the new millennium, suits were still popular with both men and women, structure was important, but colour still relatively unavailable with black, beige, grey and navy the predominant colours.
When we started Suit the City in 2007, there was a lack of high quality women’s suits available, the chain stores and designers such as Jaeger were offering standard sizes and unimaginative colours or designs.
Things have moved on and now women often mix and match jackets, skirts, trousers and dresses in bright colours and complimentary styles. Many stores now offer free personal shoppers to help choose co-ordinating outfits – this service varies from store to store and sizes are still ‘standard’ i.e. 8-16. And the fabrics and make up are still poor quality in many instances.
At Suit the City, we find that women come to us to build a wardrobe of practical, co-ordinating outfits. They want luxurious, comfortable fabrics and many find that standard sizes do not fit. The choice of colours, weights and textures is limited in the shops, as the owners do not want to be stuck with last season’s colours and styles, they stick to black, navy and grey, with a high percentage of garments being polyester.
The hassle of trying to replace key items and finding that they are no longer available is eliminated as it is possible to recreate loved (and worn to death) items in the same style, size and cut. Colour and non-matching jackets, skirts and trousers have become accepted in most workplaces.
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