Marlene Dietrich modeling a masculine-styled pant suit designed by Coco Chanel, 1933. © AP/Wide World Photos.I love all things French: foods like crispy baguettes, actors like Thierry L’hermitte and Olivier Martinez. If you are not familiar with these beautiful men, trust me, they’re worth Googling then ogling! I can easily see myself strolling along the exclusive avenues that run like starbursts from the Arc de Triumphe. The women of Paris always seem to look so feminine and quintessentially chic. So isn’t it rather strange that a French woman was responsible for designing the pant suit?
It was in the early 1900’s that Coco Chanel first fell madly for men’s clothing. Although they have been around since the 1800’s, Chanel was the first to put women’s pant suits on the map as a bold alternative to more feminine styles of dress. It was first deemed acceptable in the 1920’s, but only the more affluent could afford such a luxury.
Katherine Hepburn became synonymous with the pant suit in the 1950’s. But even she was denied access to public places due her refusal to look more like a woman should in those days. That ‘devil may care’ attitude is what makes Hepburn so famous and rather cool.
The pant suit as we know it, did not come into being until 1966, when designer Yves Saint-Laurent introduced his "Le Smoking" pantsuit. He was responsible for making them less severe and more feminine.
Since then, each decade has come up with its own edition of the pant suit. Why has this initially utilitarian clothing combo endured for so long? Why are designers reinventing them all the time? The reason may be that we just don’t want to give them up. We want to look great but draw on that inner man for looking professional in an arguably man’s world. This way we can have our cake and eat it too…without losing our heads.