Seeing a woman wearing a suit has always given me that feeling of strength, confidence and self-assurance, an outward statement of being a long standing member of the Strong Girls Club.
I’m not really too sure where this image in my head has come from, is it the impression of confidence I’ve got from women I’ve seen wearing suits, or some hidden subliminal message I’ve gained from society without even realising. I thought I’d delve into a little bit of history whilst writing this blog to try and get an answer, and also put the outfit origins into context.
The suit, as you probably already know, originated from menswear, it dates as far back as the early 1800’s to a man named Beau Brummell. Essentially he was over wearing such fussy outfits of embellished jackets, knee breaches and stockings, he wanted something more refined - jackets with fitted long trousers - AKA the suit as we know it today.
The late 1800’s is when suits were first introduced to women, Sarah Bernhardt a French actress is famously known for blurring the lines of gender by wearing a suit and playing what was then considered male roles. We saw the development of the suffragette suit in the 1910’s where women were fighting to combat legislation making mandatory wearing of corsets and hemlines no shorter than an inch off the ground. In 1914 when Coco Chanel designed their first suit, Coco famously said that she was giving women freedom of movement and the ability to laugh and eat without having to faint.
It seems almost surreal that there was a time where practical clothing was something only seen needed for men, and that women were literally fighting legislation to change this, yet it was a time not all that distant in history. Whether we realise it or not, I think history shows that the real feel of the power suit comes from the significance of female emancipation, and let’s face it, women still get excitement from the luxury of pockets!
The female suit seems to be trending just as much now as it has in the past, I’ve seen lots of examples in the fashion world as well as from some of my favourite female celebrities.
First up is the bright bold suit in one block colour. I love the simplicity of the plain fabric, yet turned into a statement by a vibrant colour.
Or how about taking delicate florals and transforming them into the perfect bold feminine statement suit.
Fabrics: Bold Magenta Flowers Viscose Twill fabric, Meadow Safari 21 Wale Cotton Needlecord Fabric, Rifle Paper Co Poppy Fields Black from Camont Unbleached Canvas.
I’m an absolute sucker for a checked suit, it gives me that retro menswear kind of vibes. Blue is quite a new colour for me that I’ve been feeling drawn to, I love how the beige really makes the shade of blue pop. I think these flannels would be perfect to recreate this look, in particular the Highland Cream and Blue flannel which is almost a perfect match!
What about an absolute classic, a white suit. I saw Florence Walsh headline Glastonbury in 2017 in this stunning white suit, I think it gives the perfect combination of elegance and style.
One thing to be mindful of when choosing a fabric and pattern is that not all fabrics are suitable for all blazer patterns.
The Heather blazer by Friday pattern company and the Jasika Blazer from closet core require a fabric with medium to heavy weight - for example the Rifle Paper Co canvases, and give a more structured look.
Whereas The Blazer by the Avid Seamstress and the Blair blazer from Homer and Howells can be sewn in light to mid weight fabric. For example choose the Bold Magenta Viscose flowers fabric for a lighter weight blazer with drape, or go with the Meadow 21 Wale Cotton Needlecord Fabric for a blazer with some structure.
Of course, I had to take this opportunity to sew myself a new suit that I could share with you. If you're not feeling quite ready for a two piece in matching fabric then I think the perfect inbetween is a statement blazer with a coordinating pair of plain trousers.
For my latest suit I’ve gone for the Rifle Paper Co Jungle Hunter canvas. I love the detail of the design, it’s such a fun pattern with the illustrated animals, and the colour palette is so beautiful and cheery. I used my current go to blazer pattern - The Heather Blazer by Friday Pattern Company. This blazer is a slightly oversized boxy style blazer, which makes for a perfect introduction to blazer sewing as you don’t have to worry about tailoring and fitting. I have sewn a size XL with no alterations.
I think the pattern is very well written and detailed, it is quite an involved make but it leaves you with a beautifully finished garment to be proud of.
For the trousers I have used a coral/pink twill which picks up the colours of the flowers in the blazer perfectly. I used yet another tried and tested pattern of mine, the Chandler Pants by Untitled Thoughts. I’ve sewn a size 10 at the waist graded into a size 9 at the hips and leg. I love that these trousers have an elastic back as that suits my changing body shape well, but the front has a clean and detailed finish with either darts or pleats, pockets and button loops. I think the tapered leg gives a nice smart slightly fitted look which lends itself well to the suit style.
I definitely see many more suits in my future plans. I already have plans for the new Garden of Dreams Pebbles Cotton sateen which I’m planning to turn into a short suit using the Blair Blazer and the short view of the Chandler Pants.