Fashion + Feminism

Le Smoking Jacket

How Yves Saint Laurent Brought Feminism to Fashion.

When I say the phrase ‘power suit’, which brand do you think of? Armani? Stella McCartney? Altuzarra? If we think of the iconic power suit, we tend to consider Giorgio Armani as the pioneer. But I think the true pioneer in women’s suits is Yves Saint Laurent with his Le Smoking jacket.

The First Appearance of the Le Smoking Jacket

Debuted in 1966, it was widely unaccepted to begin with. In fact, many women were refused entry to restaurants and theatres simply for wearing a tuxedo. The look only became widespread and popular in the 1970s thanks to Bianca Jagger. She wore a white Le Smoking tuxedo to her wedding to Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones. This kickstarted the timeless trend that is still so popular today.

Over-sized or Form Fitting?

While I was researching the topic, I came across an article on Bustle by Marlen Komar. She writes how the Le Smoking jacket became the definition of female power dressing. She claims that a woman wearing a tuxedo can actually increase her sensuality. Even though the look is typically male.

The Le Smoking jacket is tailored to the curves of a woman’s body and softens the boxy look of the standard tuxedo. This can coincidentally also make you feel like a badass ready to squash the patriarchy at a moment’s notice. But because of the confidence, it has been found that women wearing tailored suits instead of men’s suits are more respected. This can be in the workplace or out-and-about by friends, co-workers and the general public.

Don’t you find that crazy? Say I went into work and pitched an idea to the same group of people – both men and women . On the first day wearing a boxy, masculine suit, and the next, a more ‘feminine’ (if that’s the right word for it) suit. I’m more likely to have a positive outcome in the meeting on the second day. Simply because the suit I’m wearing has a cinched-in waist.

Le Smoking – From Disgust to Discussed

It’s amazing that a look which was originally so offensive has become such a symbol of female empowerment. And remained timeless throughout the last 60 years.

While it was first seen on celebrities such as Bianca Jagger, it is now a staple in the wardrobe of Emma Watson, Rihanna, Zendaya and the young Julie Andrews. If I’m being honest, these 4 women have all been extremely influential in my life. I have always loved the Sound of Music, and grew up alongside Emma Watson through Harry Potter. I’m also a huge Rihanna fan and just love Zendaya’s positive influence in the celebrity world.

The fact that they have all been pictured wearing these suits will continue to boost the popularity of the pieces. Not to mention inspire women to dare to be different. It will be really interesting to see where the designs go over the next few years. It is important to keep the simple silhouette of the original Le Smoking jacket. However, YSL will have to come up with new ways to expand the range to stay relevant in today’s market. And I for one can’t wait to see what they do next.

Confidence is Key

The first time I acknowledged a female celebrity wearing a tuxedo was Emma Watson in 2014. She wore it with a classically simple red lip and looked wonderfully European. I fell in love. The look was everything I wanted to be. Effortless. Classy. Confident. And this is the feeling that the suit is meant to give you. Yves Saint Laurent wanted to give women the confidence to go out and work high-powered jobs in male-oriented sectors. And I think he succeeded.

The Le Smoking Jacket Trickling Down

Now, as much as I would kill for one of the YSL suits, I don’t think I could cough up £1800 for the blazer alone. But, luckily for us, mass market fashion has come to save the day. While I really don’t vibe with the fast fashion market, I can see its benefits. Brands like Boohoo, Missguided, even ASOS are experts at duping designer items and making them affordable for the likes of you and me. There are hundreds of different suits on offer which shows the trickle-down effect of the Le Smoking jacket and its influence on the fashion industry as we know it.

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