A Brief Guide on the Evolution of Women’s Workwear
Women’s clothing tends to reflect their role in society. Before the 20th century, they were usually confined to domestic spaces and had little need for workwear. But, that changed as time went by. Here’s a brief history of how their fashion evolved over the last 100 years:
At the beginning of the 20th century, women weren’t allowed to vote, let alone work, but that was about to change. The Suffrage movement started in the 1890s and extended into the 1910s. And, it didn’t merely influence political thought and legislation. It also had a big impact on the fashion of the time.
The Hobble skirt was first presented in Paris in 1908. It had a narrow hem, which made it difficult for the wearer to walk comfortably. To protest against the restrictive piece of clothing, the American Ladies’ Tailor Association created the suffragette suit. It had a looser and more practical silhouette and a higher hemline, which allows a person to move and work more easily.
And, that wasn’t the only influence the style had. It also became a symbol of protest. Women wore it to combat legislation that enforced mandatory wearing of corsets and a hemline that was no more than an inch off the ground.
It was in the 1920s that women were really becoming more active, as at least 21% of them took part in the workforce. They sought to wear clothes that were easier to put on and more comfortable. So, the corset, which was once a staple of fashion, went out of style.
It was replaced by cardigan jackets and a more relaxed silhouette. Instead of brushing past the ankles, the skirts were hemmed at the knee. The style was simpler and more practical, as well, which suited the working woman perfectly.
During the Second World War, women took over the jobs of men who left to become soldiers. They began to wear clothes that were traditionally masculine since they were more comfortable and easier to make.
After the war ended, there was a move to encourage women to leave the workforce. This is reflected in the fashion of the time, which focused on appearing feminine instead of providing comfort and practicality.
But, the style didn’t last. By the 1960s, women were once again wearing suit jackets, and androgynous designs were becoming more and more popular.
What started in the 1960s, continued in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Unisex clothing, such as the pantsuit, became increasingly popular. Shoulder pads and loose-fitting pants, which gave the wearer a larger and more powerful silhouette, were all the rage, as well.
Fashion has come a long way over the last century. Now, dress codes are much less strict. Employees can wear whatever they want in the office, whether it’s designer attire for women or a simple jean and t-shirt combination.