As women entered the workforce in the 1980s, the powerful costume – from designers such as Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren (and, closer to home, Carla Zampatti) – gained traction. place in women’s wardrobes. And while former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took turns being pilloried and praised for her colorful trouser choices, she also helped make the suit a more common option for women: comfortable, classic, and cool. .
“The suit is now a fashion item,” says Chloe McCormack, head of women’s clothing at Oscar Hunt, a bespoke costume company which, after 10 years of making bespoke suits for men, has launched a line for women. .
“The out-of-the-box options just weren’t up to the many women who came to us,” says McCormack. “Our model challenges out-of-the-box options. We can have women sizes 6 to 20 in suits that have a lot of movement, are beautiful, and can be worn forever. “
Most of Oscar Hunt’s clients come from the corporate world, but she says women increasingly want tailored suits for evening wear and even for weekend lunches. As NSW and Victoria hit vaccination targets and start lifting lockdown restrictions, she expects Oscar Hunt to be busy.
“The good thing about a suit is that it’s flexible. It can have a “ladies lunch” vibe and a glamorous nighttime vibe. It all depends on the cut and how you style it.
“Some women come in and say, I want a boyfriend look, something a little looser. But other women like tighter suits. No matter what trends or personal preferences, we can really meet that. everybody. “
The Melbourne-based brand isn’t the only brand to jump on the womenswear bandwagon. In Sydney, tailor P. Johnson launched P. Johnson Femme and in Melbourne, Emma Nolan’s E Nolan brand offers tailored suits for women.
Many men’s tailors also make a suit for a client. Mitchell Ogilvie of Brisbane has been making costumes “for the wives of our male clients for years.” The women will come in and say, “I want what he’s got: a suit made for me, not something out of the box.”
COVID-19 restrictions, ironically, have led to greater demand for coveralls, explains The Outnet’s purchasing director Kate Benson. As foreclosure restrictions have eased in countries with high vaccination rates, the luxury e-trader has seen a spike in interest in bullion coins.
“I definitely believe in clothing psychology, and after working from home for over a year and living with elasticated waists, women want to get dressed again. Wearing something tailor-made is more refined and lifts your spirits. “
She names Joseph and Gabriela Hearst as two brands offering costumes that are worth your investment.
Deborah Sams of Australian label Bassike agrees that while the suit has “always had a place in the modern woman’s wardrobe,” the look is growing in popularity.
“The difference is that now we see costumes in more diverse contexts,” she says. “Where dresses once reigned supreme on the red carpet and for occasions, women now wear costumes. Just take a look at Balenciaga’s recent fall couture collection to see how far tailoring has been made and the impact a well-cut suit can have.
The costume itself has also changed, says Libby Page, Net-a-Porter purchasing director. The era of Margaret Thatcher-esque navy and gray-beige is long gone, and in her place is a riot of color and shape.
“We have noticed that our customers are turning to more on-trend couture pieces, such as square blazers, pastel hues and hourglass styles from brands such as Acne Studios, Jacquemus and Frankie Shop, as opposed to pieces’ from “more traditional office,” explains Page.
Pants are more casual, blazers have a longer line, and like Harris, more and more women are pairing these pieces with trendy sneakers rather than heels.
“It all aligns with the trend we’ve seen for customers to invest in pieces that work harder in their wardrobes,” explains Page. “Costumes aren’t just for work anymore.”
And while there has been a lot of talk about the death of the costume as many of us continue to work from home, for women, wearing a costume makes more sense than ever. “It’s a one-stop-shop,” says McCormack of Oscar Hunt. “You put on your costume and you’re good to go. “
It’s a notion implicitly understood by style icons, from musician Janelle Monáe (who favors tuxedos) to fashion designer Phoebe Philo (rarely seen in anything other than a loose suit with Stan Smith Adidas sneakers): a costume dresses you but never complicates things.
McCormack herself has a powder blue suit with a candy pink “just for fun” lining.
“The sky is the limit, there really is so much to choose from,” she says. “And women love it because they’re used to buying things off the shelf and it’s a much more personal way.”