Forget stuffy suits, fashion’s officewear refresh is in the business of cool
Undermined by the Covid-19 pandemic, the business look has never really managed to reclaim its rightful place in women's wardrobes.
Fendi put a womenswear slant on men’s suits for the fall-winter 2023-2024 season. Photography Miguel MEDINA / AFP©
Women’s tailoring is in the throes of a revolution!
Once seen as a smart, formal piece, today the suit is being transformed into a more lighthearted, almost playful garment that women are experimenting with, reworking and combining with pieces and accessories that are by turns ultra-sexy, casual or even sportswear-inspired.
The idea is to revamp the suit with a modern-day update, without losing the sense of power it can convey.
And the idea is proving a hit, as the world’s most famous influencers can’t seem to get enough of the suit, adopting it in masculine or oversized versions, or even with shorts, Bermuda shorts or a micro miniskirt, or with a blazer worn straight over skin or over a crop top. In short, this Y2K-style suit is on a mission to overhaul the business look.
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Less formal, more inclusive
Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Eva Longoria, Caro Daur and Chiara Ferragni have all helped to refresh the image of the women’s suit in recent weeks, except that none of these influencers and businesswomen seem to have considered adopting it in its most formal version.
Forget sharply tailored pants or jackets, pencil skirts, tight collars, tweeds, and especially white shirts: the women’s suit as we know it is no more.
Instead, it’s being reinvented in the coolest possible way! Think Kim Kardashian on the cover of Fortune Magazine, sporting a demure suit, albeit with loose-fitting pants and seemingly worn with no top underneath, creating a look that’s powerful, chic and sexy all at the same time.
And that’s not all, since most influencers including many of the street style looks spotted at the recent New York, London, Milan, Paris and Copenhagen fashion weeks have opted for oversized suits, sometimes seemingly borrowed from men’s wardrobes – as seen at Fendi for the fall-winter 2023 season – or taking the form of a blazer worn with shorts or Bermuda shorts, and even a crop top and blazer with baggy pants.
It’s a new way of approaching tailoring that makes it less formal and more inclusive. And it’s a trend that looks set to rise, from the look of the spring-summer 2024 Paris Fashion Week shows, where Issey Miyake, Dries Van Noten and The Row all showed suits with ultra-casual cuts.
Ties are back, with or without suits
The business look and officewear in general are often synonymous with ties. But here again, there’s no question of adopting an overly formal look.
Valentino was well ahead of the curve on this front at the fall-winter 2023 shows, transforming the tie preferably thin and black into a must-have accessory to be worn with anything, apart from a formal suit. That’s all it took for fashion fans to make it their own.
According to the latest data from global fashion search engine Stylight, search interest in ties rose by 86% between June and September, compared with the same period last year, and the fall season is only just beginning.
To complete this revisited officewear ensemble, women are betting on trench coats cut in shorter styles, with a 52% increase in demand on Stylight compared to last year, and a 339% increase in interest on Google.
The only more formal touch in this new business-ready look is that rectangular glasses straight out of the 2000s seem to be rising from the ashes, with a 24% increase in Google searches in the space of one year. It’s official: the return to the office is looking cooler than ever.
For this report, Stylight analysed the search behaviour of its 120 million annual users between June 26 and September 26, compared to the same period in 2022. For Google search figures, the number of searches over the past year (September 26, 2022 – September 26) was compared.