It could be argued that vintage skirt suits have a very long and illustrious history. When we look back in time, we think of dresses being the chief garment for women of the 18th and 19th centuries. However, some of the most dashing examples of women’s dress from these centuries have included a beautifully tailored jacket and skirt and we just need to see the historically inspired collections of designers such as Vivienne Westwood to see the proof. In the 20th century skirts suits have been worn in every form to every occasion from office to everyday, evening to wedding (Wearing a perfectly sculpted skirt suit can give you and instantly stylish outfit which is disarmingly formal and yet retains a feminine edge. We only have to look to cinema to see the full effect of a perfectly placed skirt suit from Kim Novak in severe late 1950s grey in Vertigo to Alicia Silverstone in 1990s tartan kitsch in Clueless.
Tailoring cloth to the female form is a true art form. Designer skirt suits can enhance, distort, reveal and conceal while maintaining a balance and control. Power suiting is something often attributed to the 1980s with designers such as Thierry Mugler, nipping in waists and boosting shoulders to the max. However, these shapes find their true origin in the 1940s when suits were de riguer as day wear for women. Designers such as Hardy Amies used wools and silks to create ultra-wearable and practical, yet elegant skirt suits for their town and country dwelling customers. Vintage skirt suits of this period feature vampish shoulder structure, shaped waists and moulded hips with neat, cloth saving, skirts. When Christian Dior launched his ‘New Look’ in 1947 and the iconic skirt suit photographed by the Seine, the departure from the 40s style is clear with ultra-feminine soft shoulders, corseted wasp waist and a full pleated midi length skirt. So whether you are looking for high glamour or figure enhancing elegance, the 1940s and 1950s have plenty to offer.
Having spent the early years of her career in the 1920’s battling against the corseted Edwardian creations of the past, for Coco Chanel, these 1950s suits were a step back. Chanel was all about making clothes wearable. Her jackets had arms specifically set higher than average with narrower sleeves. As she said: ‘A skirt is made for crossing the legs and an armhole for crossing the arms.’ We are fairly certain that deportment guides of the period would have disagreed with the former (ankles only ladies) and questioned the latter but it shows the no-nonsense and independent attitude Chanel applied to herself and her customer. Her simple collarless skirt suits with contrast braid trims were designed primarily with comfort in mind and always look impeccable with their chain weighted hemlines. Today the most iconic, imitated and popular items of clothing ever produced by the brand. Really great tailoring never loses style so take a look at the Open for Vintage skirt suit collection to find fabulous vintage suits from every decade.