The chronicling of skirts and skirt suiting
is of importance on the fashion history timeline.
Skirt length and silhouette provide ready reference
to identification of specific historical eras and
the evolving transitions of women’s socio-political status.
In late 19th century European fashion,
skirt suiting appears as a distinct dress
comprised of jacket with matching skirt (without bustle).
This outfit emerged as an appropriate riding costume,
accessorized with a high-collared shirt or chemisette,
and a top hat with a veil.
(images from historical tidbits):
19th century riding costume
The skirt suit was also an ensemble worn when
out and about on leisurely strolls.
The outfit included a
jacket and skirt (with bustle),
accessorized with a small hat or bonnet.
‘walking’ outfit with bustle skirt
As the 19th century progressed,
skirts became less voluminous,
more fitted to the body and bustle-free.
With the advent of the 20th century,
and the difficulties of two international conflicts (WWI, WWII)
which forced women from home into non-traditional work,
skirt fit became more comfortable to accommodate the new labour tasks.
During the years of the Second World War (WWII),
there was a pronounced shortage of fabric.
The scarcity of material increased the popularity of the skirt suit.
Women were able to add longevity to their wardrobe
by mixing and matching skirts, blouses, and jackets
to create various outfits.
Skirts suits of this period were known as Victory or Utility suits.
When the war years ended, the skirt suit maintained its dress distinction
due to its’ comfort and practicality.
It had achieved full celebrity status as a fashion mainstay.
(image from vintage dancer.com):
Utility skirt suits
As the years moved on, the skirt hem-line
continued its gradual rise:
ankle-length, calf-length, knee-length.
Rising skirt lengths mirrored the rise of
women’s increased socio-economic status and the
skirt suit was fashion integral to the process.
By the mid -20th century,
with the hem-line holding at the knee,
a modern twist was introduced to
skirt suiting via fabrication:
cue Coco Chanel and the tweed skirt suit.
(image from elle.com):
Chanel tweed skirt suit
With the application of tweed, a material associated with men’s suiting,
Coco Chanel used this durable fabric to create a suiting of
a slim, knee length skirt (pencil-like in silhouette)
and collarless cardigan-style jacket embellished with
braid, gold buttons and patch pocket details
The Chanel tweed skirt suit has evolved into a classic piece
and today continues to maintain its iconic standing.
By the 1980s, power skirt suiting ruled:
jackets with board shoulders and shoulder pads.
It seemed the sartorial stance was one of
‘being able to play with the big boys” of the boardroom.
(image from etsy.com):
Packing a fashion punch: ’80s power suiting
As the 20th century dimmed
and the light of the new millennium dawned,
skirt suiting was no longer held to any particular dress dictate.
Skirt lengths, jacket/skirt silhouette, fabrication, styling,
all were open to creative interpretation
be it runway revved or street-wear steady.
Skirt suiting, a/w 2014
(images from style.com):
On the runway
oversize jacket with extra wide shawl-like lapels and
asymmetric hem skirt with front slit
with asymmetric trench – inspired jacket
tweed, cinched at waist with corset-like affect;
worn over matching, sparkly roll neck jumper and leggings
demure “lady who lunches” suit, teamed with
urban-sass, lace-up, knee high tweed trainers
jackets of major interest
with trouser pairing
the gents in on the skirt suiting action
suited and booted
(image from mtrls.com):
cut-away jacket, skirt with asymmetric hem and zipper detail
Out and about
(image from whowhatwear):
long line jacket, to-ankle skirt with soft pleats
(image from ellecanada.com):
plaid pleasing with 3/4 length sleeve jacket and
to knee skirt with soft folds
(image from glamour.com):
three piece with flora print
(images from elle.com):
cropped boxy jacket with drop shoulders and pocket details
flared mini skirt
no nonsense over-knee black high heeled boots
the brief: grey/black/white colour coordination
with a zap of florescent yellow
jacket with apron front and origami folds
paired with mini circle skirt
collarless jacket with zipper detail and full pleat skirt
(image from ellecanada.com):
linear focus: sport lux crew neck top and matching pencil skirt
(images from ellecanada/com):
cropped trench affect jacket paired with colour band pencil skirt
double breast black jacket with gold buttons,
shoulder detail and cuffed sleeve;
flirty, pleated, B/W graphic skirt