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    This summer, street style is set to see a throwback to the 70’s suit, modernised and reconstructed by a plethora of designers who are remaking the iconic look that has connotations of disco dancing and the early feminist movements of the ‘burning the bra’ liberation era. Many distinct styles were born out of this emblematic decade: punk, glam rock, and disco, to name just a few. Witnessing a rejuvenation on the SS20 runways across all four fashion capitals, the inspiration-rich silhouette of the 70’s suit is being reimagined to make it as relevant as ever in today’s fashion industry. Key features include neutral and rust tones, loud nature prints or evocations, paisley or post-modern art-inspired patterns, flared trousers and wide as-can-be butterfly collars. Adaptations such as acid wash, patchwork and shape manipulation are expected to be popular variations.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Business Meets Chic with Subversive 70’s Suits'. Source of the image:


    The 1970’s was a time of great social change for women: feminism, bubbling under the surface of society – explicitly as well as subversively – for decades, finally started to gain traction amongst the masses; the ‘shockingly’ revolutionary magazine, Cosmopolitan, was founded, publishing daring content aimed at women; and women, once seen as the traditional homemakers, were becoming slowly integrated into the professional workplace. Society and gender roles were beginning to slowly shift, with new laws and being declared to protect women and recognise their rights. Marriage rates began to decline, divorce rates rose, and a new acceptance of cohabitation was instilled. Women working became the norm, finally gaining a much-desired status of independence both financially and socially.


    Due to the swift emergence of women in professional environments where they had been scarce before, there was little available when it came to workwear. As the androgynous look was already a running theme throughout the decade, a quick solution was found: dress like men. Women adopted the uniform of trousers, shirts, and jackets to fit into the male-dominated work environment, styling themselves with feminine flourishes such as silk and pussy-bow blouses, wide trousers, and pointed-toe boots. Contemporary fashion met a traditional setting, resulting in the iconic 70’s suit. This androgynous look was further popularised in films such as Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall’. The concept of ‘Dressing for Success’ was thoroughly instilled and has remained ever since. It could be said that women’s hopes of equality were manifested through dress – perhaps if they could look like men, they could be afforded the same rights and privileges as them?

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Business Meets Chic with Subversive 70’s Suits'. Source of the image:
    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Business Meets Chic with Subversive 70’s Suits'. Source of the image:


    This summer, audacious prints have been an eye-catching theme for suits, honouring and paying homage to the classic disco scene. Bright shirts, platform boots, chunky chains and polyester suits are motifs commonly associated with the era. Influential design houses such as Gucci and Halston were early pioneers. Halpern sent a flared, swirl patterned suit with matching shoes down the runway, whilst Erdem stuck to their distinct look, adding a floral twist with a platform sandal and sharp, straight collar. 16 Arlington combined 70’s disco influences with the classic suit to create a metallic, slit leg style with a matching bow sitting beneath a signature wide collar.


    The trousers were a newcomer to women's 70s wardrobes, encouraged by increased leisure time and an absence of casual wear for women. They began to penetrate couture collections in the '70s, following Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic ‘Le Smoking’ image in 1966, exhibiting a woman wearing a tuxedo. Here, stylish sophistication met daytime dressing, a look and theme that has been emulated by designers such as Ralph Lauren and Georgio Armani. Instigating a trend of masculine tailored garments for women, Yves Saint Laurent was pivotal in defining powerful but chic workwear for women.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Business Meets Chic with Subversive 70’s Suits'. Source of the image:


    Each designer has embarked upon their own approach, drawing upon different inspirations and aspects to interpret what the 70’s suit can mean in our modern world. Victoria Beckham stayed loyal to the colour palette of rusts and neutrals whilst adding a vibrant note of purple in the ruffle collar and cuffs of a blouse layered beneath. Paco Rabanne reimagined the shape of the jacket by creating a double-breasted version, and then applied daringly different muted prints on top and bottom. The waistcoat was also invited back into the fold to join the 70’s suit in Gucci, Etro, and Celine’s interpretations. Marc Jacobs’ yellow bombshell three-piece suit, with matching sun hat and purple neckerchief, personified the concept of the suit meeting the feminine and fashionable. Pussy-bow blouses, flared trousers and elongated cuffs were a common sight storming the runway for SS20.

    The 70s: a decade of change, innovation, and exploration that saw many aspects of life alter for women or, at the very least, start upon the path towards alteration. Within this, women began entering the workplace in larger numbers with a heavier emphasis being placed upon workwear, and – oddly enough – this focus on suitable workwear has continued through the decades to become a topic that is still being navigated today. As the SS20 runways proved, now is the time top stop viewing the 70s as a bygone, disco-dancing costume era, and start recognising them as a revolutionary period that laid the foundations for the suits and the workwear choices available to women today. An era defined by social change, the 70s began paving the way for equality whilst bringing fashion-forward thinking and femininity alongside it. To rework the suit for our modern age, the look is being transformed by the tweaking of subtle features, turning it into a fresh new look for the summer – keep your eyes peeled!

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