You hear ‘power dressing’, you think 1980s. Shoulder pads. Neon polyester. There’s an inescapable link with nouvelle cuisine and helmet hair. But things are different this time, we promise. Power suits are back, but the shoulder pads are sensible (Balenciaga, we can ignore you in this instance), the fabrics are luxurious and, moreover, this trend has nothing to do with illusory status. Modern women know a suit can just be a suit – it doesn’t need to be in pink to be for girls and the shoulder proportions don’t need to compete with that of a rugby league player to give the wearer gravitas. This time, the power comes from the cool, unassuming confidence that only comes from wearing impeccably tailored separates.
Think of a young Lauren Hutton or Lauren Bacall in slouchy, high-waisted trousers, hand in pocket – that’s the mood. And the clothes? Look to the AW17 runways – they played a strong suit all season. At Céline, the tailoring was at its most straight-forward – boxy, neutral toned and practical – but not without its edge. Mannish, straight-cut jackets were worn with slim trousers that bunched on shoes – lapels had tux appeal while shirt collars were oversized and starched. The collection offered a blueprint for how real, working women should dress in the city.
"slouchy, high-waisted trousers, hand in pocket – that’s the mood."
There was a similar story at Ellery and Gabriela Hearst – double breasted suits in heritage checks and school colours held their own amongst the dresses. At Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Tibi and Max Mara, neat, androgynous suits commanded attention – but these walked alongside skirt suits. Don’t worry, these aren’t the skirt suits of old; ill-fitting and probably worn with tights and (not cool) trainers. These are chic, elegant, modern. Think skirts – either cute and mini or below the knee and skimming – with pockets so you can walk with swagger. Teamed with ‘nu-grandma’ shoes – the type the style set are sporting – or colour pop boots and an oversized jacket, these looks are bringing skirt suits from the brink of extinction. About time too. Things were a little more outré at Jacquemus. While Parisian chic is what underpins all of his collections, the clothes are so much more. In this instance, monochrome tailoring was given a decidedly ‘fashun’ twist; domed raglan shoulders, corseted waists, ruched, cropped trousers, giant Peter Pan collars. It felt sculptural, a little bit Pierrot, and on the right side of theatrical. Just what the style set needs from their power suit.
Confidence. Cool. Poise. Undoubtedly, all good reasons to wear a suit. But, there’s another reason that’s just as compelling; they’re so damn easy. They match, they’re flattering and they work with all shoes from trainers to heels by way of boots. Add a full face of make-up and you’ll channel Hollywood royalty in their heyday; go bare faced and you have sexy 1990s androgyny.
It’s time to follow suit and get yourself some power tailoring.