December 9, 2016
Hillary Clinton may have popularized them in the 2000s, but pantsuits have a storied history. For all the #CRE ladies (and men) out there, here’s a little background.
Circa 1870, actress Sarah Bernhard began wearing pantsuits and was photographed in them, making the world start to realize that women could wear the pants, too. By the 1930s, women were wearing pantsuits, at the time called “masculine style lounge suits” and popularized by women considered subversive for the time, like Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. “Only the most unconventional designer would offer a straightforward pantsuit, and only a fearless woman would wear it,” says MOMA of 1930s women and pantsuits, a time when women could be arrested for wearing pants.
By the 60s and 70s, women were popularizing pants in the office, albeit to the disdain of older generations. YSL popularized the tuxedo suit with high heels and red lips, and by 1972, Title IX declared, amongst other things, that schools could no longer bar women from wearing pants to school. Progress.
Today’s woman doesn’t need to exert her power with a pantsuit, with strides towards equality that generations before would have only dreamed about. The White House may have eluded the self-proclaimed “pantsuit aficionado,” but women in pantsuits have been blazing the trail for nearly 150 years.
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