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THE POWER OF THE WELL-SUITED

The pantsuit is all about making a woman feel comfortable and powerful. Our pantsuit with its looser fit does all that and ticks off all the right boxes. It’s cool, effortless and modern. The empowering effect of a power suit, however, dates way back to the 1870s when actress Sarah Bernhardt chocked Paris by wearing a custom-tailored trouser suit in a painting. She was fortunately not the last woman to break barriers wearing the once-illegal attire we now turn to when we want to exude confidence and power. It took time though.

The pantsuit started to pick up steam in the 30s when women started to enter the workforce at a rate twice that of men. The evolution meant women needed clothing that reflected their new roles in life. That’s when the pantsuit that was once reserved for men came into the working woman’s closet. This sudden shift in society was against the time’s norms. Women, who were paid way less than men, were not only taking the men’s jobs, they were also taking another symbol of manhood — the pantsuit. This meant that women publicly dressed in the two-piece outfit or pants would get arrested for transvestitism in the 30s.

Women's suit was of course not the only piece of clothing that evolved. Men's two piece evolved from high-waisted to shoulder-padded to business casual. However, the business casual look that took over men's fashion scene in the 90s has held on with some modification. This season, the man is not too dressy and not too casual. And just like with women's suits, the right accessories can dress the look up or down.

Women's suit was of course not the only piece of clothing that evolved. Men's two piece evolved from high-waisted to shoulder-padded to business casual. However, the business casual look that took over men's fashion scene in the 90s has held on with some modification. This season, the man is not too dressy and not too casual. And just like with women's suits, the right accessories can dress the look up or down.

Given the arrests and social conventions not many women wore the pantsuit in the 30s. According to MOMA, the women who did continue to wear them were the strong and fearless, hence the pantsuit’s reputation for signaling power and confidence.
So, who else besides Sarah Bernhardt contributed to the evolution of the powersuit? Here are five of the many women who enjoyed using the suit to break out of the mold.

MARLENE DIETRICH

The enigmatic figure of modern showbiz had an advanced attitude toward fashion and sexuality. She wore men’s suits she fit herself both on and off screen. Her suits were not made feminine using fabric or color. The only difference her suits had was the bust darts. Dietrich even kissed women wearing tuxedos and top hats, which signified masculine wealth and social status, in her performances on “Morocco” and “Blonde Venus” in 1930s. Scandalous!

BIANCA JAGGER

The human activist style icon pushed boundaries with her outfits when she emerged as the reigning queen of Studio 54 during the 70s. Her look ranged from sleek men’s suits to glamourous flowing dresses. Her most powerful and iconic fashion statement was, however, her wearing a white suit in her wedding to Mick Jagger. Though it wasn’t a pantsuit, it still makes our list given the power of that one fashion moment.

ANNIE LENNOX

The other half of English band Eurythmics, Annie Lennox was famous not only for her artistry, but also for her androgynous look. She was seen primarily donning suits during her career. In an interview with Grazia, she explained her choice of attire stems from her desire to being treated as an equal. “I wanted to wear a suit to show that I am equal to a man, not that I was one, wanted to be one, or that I was gay,” she said.

JANELLE MONAE

With 99 percent of her wardrobe consisting of black and white, Janelle Monae managed to become a fashion icon to reckon with. Though she’s now starting to incorporate dresses and skirts to her looks, she started out her career wearing classic tuxedos. The reason for her sartorial dedication is her vow to always remember her roots. “… a lot of it had to do with me wanting to have a uniform like the working class, like my mom and my grandmother," she told Huffington Post.

KRISTINA LINDHE

Our CEO and founder Kristina Lindhe doesn’t only wear the pantsuit, but she’s always looking for creative ways to modernize it. This season’s iteration is made to fit millennials as well as older demographic — a pantsuit for all. It’s also appropriate for any occasion. Whether you’re going for a more casual or dressed look, Lexington’s suit is easily dressed up or down. It’s this respect to heritage but will to modernize closets and home that has earned Lindhe a nomination for Svenska Dagbladet’s entrepreneur award.

POWER DRESSING

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