The words "woman's suit" sounds a bit banal compared to the words "men's suit". After all, women began wearing suits based on the frame of reference given to them by men in suits. Because of this, there is at times, an automatic association with a woman in a suit having a certain "masculine flair" about her. And while we can admit that it may sound more interesting to think of a woman in a dress and heels than to think of a women in a suit; recently, there is something fresh and new occurring in the female sartorial world.
It may be too early to know if this more recent interest in women's tailoring is here to stay. But, we take notice of the stir that is occurring among women who (like their great-grandmothers, albeit often out of necessity) are discovering the joy of wearing items that are hand-sewn. And we wonder if--after skipping two generations of wearing hand-sewn items in favor of the slew of ready-to-wear clothing--perhaps this appreciation of tailoring is resting in our DNA and now is being reawakened?
In the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, women relished wearing well-fitted suits. During next 30 years following the 50s, the female suit practically dropped off the style radar. Then, in the 1980s, we witnessed women beginning to enter management positions at an accelerating rate, while relying on suits to wear to work. These suits were usually not that notable, and knowing about the finer points of tailoring would have sounded slightly ridiculous to the typical woman. At this time, for the discerning executive woman (in the U.S), "buying a suit" usually meant a trip to Brooks Brothers.
But now, women are noticing how the art of tailoring can amp up a wardrobe, and work for them in ways professionally and personally that they previously didn't understand. In fact, it's almost impossible not to notice something special about a bespoke tailored suit or a well done made-to-measure item. Even ready-to-wear houses are attempting more precise cuts in coats and trousers, as a direct result of a population with a penchant for bespoke tailoring.
Decades before the 1980s...before the suit was so directly related to something worn mainly for work and church,we are able to find some real examples of women who dressed in suits to communicate elegance and sophistication.
Marlene Dietrich, who's preferred tailor was Anderson & Sheppard, pulls off feminine charm with her ensemble.
1940s "Skirt Suits"
As women begin to understand that wearing a suit doesn't have to be based on the prototypes offered by her elegant male counterparts, a new world of possibilities open to her, and a woman's style begins to take on a life of it's own. It is no longer a "woman's suit"...it's simply a creation that expresses her personality.
A suit to remember, by Roubi of Huntsman, straight from Savile Row
Fully Bespoke - Eva Herzigova in a double-breasted suit by Edward Sexton
Yasmin le Bon in a magnificent wool suit by Edward Sexton
Rock-n-roll sex appeal. Cindy Crawford in waistcoat and trousers, again by Edward Sexton
Gangster Charm, Made-to-Measure, Hemingway Tailors, UK
Sophisticated ready-to-wear, Armani 2013
As more women become aware of their option to own a bespoke suit, we can only wonder if the industry of bespoke tailoring and made-to-measure women's apparel will secure a real presence among fine tailors worldwide. We think that the key point will be the extent of awareness that is created among women.
This is why we are seriously considering giving some regular interest to the subject...
Sonya Glyn Nicholson