The powersuit first made its comeback back on the AW17 runways, proving that it means business and is here to stay.
From the elegant Meghan Markle to the outrageous Lady Gaga, suits worn by women have never been more on trend. Suits have been a symbol of female power since the Chanel skirt suit was introduced in the 1920s, giving women the freedom to dress for comfort as well as formality, instead of being restricted to a corset.
The real revolution came in the 1980s when Armani created pantsuits, which helped women to be taken seriously in their careers. Recently there has been a dramatic change in the definitions of menswear and womenswear, but power suits still signify the very earliest move towards blurring the lines of gender constraints.
Many celebrities are opting for power suits over traditional gowns at red carpet events. After the ‘Me Too’ campaign gained momentum following Hollywood revelations of the behaviour of Harvey Weinstein and the atrocities which came to light in Rochdale, empowering women has never been so important.
Last week, Lady Gaga once again hit the headlines for wearing an oversized grey Marc Jacobs blazer and trousers to Elle’s Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration event. The suit was visibly different from her usual outfits – she has a history of controversial dresses, including the famous dress made of meat and an inflatable star dress.
For Lady Gaga, this suit seemed understated and casual compared to her previous looks and she explained that she chose to wear a suit because it made her feel more like herself. She continued with a touching and thought provoking acceptance speech covering mental health, feminism, equality and being the survivor of a sexual assault. She described wearing a suit as a way for her to “take the power back,” continuing to explain that women in Hollywood “are not just objects to entertain the world” but they “are voices” who “have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced.”
Lady Gaga’s message is not just applicable to Hollywood celebrities, but anyone who wants to use their voice to promote goodness and positive change in society. There is more to feminism than wearing a suit, but resisting the need to prove your femininity through dress and using your clothing as a symbol of power is a start. Rita Ora is another celebrity to recently appear at a high profile function in a power suit, attending the Rimmel anti-cyberbullying event in an oversized pink and blue Marc Jacobs suit.
The fashion industry is clearly set to lead the way for a more gender-fluid future, and hopefully Lady Gaga can inspire us all, regardless of gender, to be a helping hand to those in need, to do something different, to be strong and reclaim our voice.
By Gemma Lavers