The inception of the contemporary suit is often attributed by the rise of industrialization in the late 17th century, the genesis of ready-to-wear garments, and the emancipation of the latter—what is known as denuding, a term coined by visual historian Anne Hollander—to “create an abstract statue of the naked hero carved according to a tailor’s rules.”

For centuries, the female form has been garbed and expressed as a “visual fantasy”—this came about in full force towards the end of the eighteenth century as women began to, literally, have a hand in dressmaking. Before then, womenswear and tailoring were exclusively a male craft. The period of transition is marked most notably, and appropriately, with the reign of Marie Antoinette.

In many ways, the female suit, thanks largely in part to Yves Saint Laurent, is a call to liberation. Where the male suit seeks to display virility by relying on monochromy—an absence of personality—to be received well, the female sartorial differs. The “feminine” perspective is open-minded, separate from the mandates of, say, The Gap, where individuality is stifled.

Especially with the rise of streetwear in the women’s market, the possibilities are endless as the suit follows in favor of fluidity. The modern woman is reworking workwear in unique and notable ways, and she has a lot to say beyond a lapel or a starchy pantsuit.

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