For many years women were not allowed to wear pant suits, or any type of trousers, as they were seen to be a masculine piece of clothing. Christians also argued that wearing pants was prohibited by the Bible, which is a completely ridiculous statement, of course. Pant suits are comfortable and can be very sexy.
There seems to be some confusion as to when they actually appeared for the first time, and who really designed the first slack suits. This has often been attributed to Yves Saint Laurent, who designed the Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women in 1966. Others will say that it was the great Mademoiselle Coco Chanel who actually designed the first suit for women! She revolutionized the fashion industry with the “little black dress” and used more masculine fabrics in many of her designs.
Chanel’s designs were focused on what she would want to wear, not what was acceptable in the day. Coco Chanel promoted the wearing of pants for women, a fashion which was quickly picked up by stars like Marlene Dietrich, after she was spotted wearing pants on a trip to Italy. Chanel said trousers made it easier for her to climb in and out of the gondolas.
Coco Chanel was way ahead of the times when it came to women’s fashion, and believed that women should be able to dress comfortably. Her motto was “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” She followed through on this idea in the wardrobes that she created, which were sought after by the rich and famous women of the day. She borrowed ideas from the male attire, but left out the harsh tailoring out and hence the articles of clothing she designed had flowing lines and were the epitome of elegance.
Designers to whom the pant suit is accredited are:
• Paul Poiret – introduced a corduroy suit of slacks and a jacket for women in 1925, when the fashion of menswear, monocles and canes was adopted by a small number of women, including actress Katherine Hepburn. This was largely ignored as it was seen to be too masculine
• Coco Channel – designed a very masculine-looking suit of trousers and a jacket for women, in 1933, which was worn by Marlene Dietrich
• André Courrèges – although more renowned for designing the mini-dress, also created a women’s safari-styled outfit consisting of pants and a jacket in 1964. Most people see this as the real beginning of slack suits for women.
• Yves Saint Laurent – designed the Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women in 1966, and began the androgynous fashion of dressing, which many women loved because it was not masculine but gave then all the freedom of masculine clothing.
No matter to whom the original pant suit is accredited, one thing is for certain, it took the originality and innovative designing of Yves Saint Laurent to make this luxurious evening suit for women a fashion trend which was accepted by all. Other design houses took notice of this, because it seemed that someone had at last come up with a viable alternative aimed at the businesswoman. Women’s tuxedos are still very popular today.