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Evolution Of Women’s Workwear

If we are considering the wardrobe of women over time and looking at the evolution of women’s workwear, then it’s commendable that women have existed in offices since we can remember despite the forever existing patriarchy and objectification towards women.

Women were to sit in office desks without any ‘actual work,’ merely existing as ornaments or trophies. They were supposed to look beautiful and presentable but not threatening to their male counterparts.

As time passed and, women started looking at the men eye-to-eye in the jobs they performed and, did outstanding in the fields of jobs that the men did, they were then said to dress similarly as men. The goal behind this was if women looked for equality with men in the workplace, then the attire was meant to match theirs too!

Sounds ridiculous right?

Nonetheless, women adopted the grey, colorless and, lifeless boxy business suits with gigantic shoulder pads. The women beneath the suits were barely visible.

The topic of the evolution of women’s workwear exists because of the term ‘feminism’ which came onboard from as long as patriarchy existed.

Women’s wardrobe is just a small portion of how and what measures women have been taking to revolt against the unnecessary and unfair practices by men in society!

We cannot change the world with our clothes and wardrobe but we can change our mindsets. That’s what we’ve always believed. We have gone from hiding gender disparities to revealing and acknowledging them.

For celebrating our success, we can look at the evolution of women’s workwear and, wardrobe and the power of women in society to date:

THE 1920s-1930s

During this time, women were given equal educational and professional rights as men. Super tight corsets were abandoned and women mostly had a relaxed attire to work and roam around. They ditched corsets and wore ‘flapper’ style clothing and, a low waistline to feel free in their body.

Factory workers, however, had to wear aprons and, overalls underneath which they could wear a frock or blouse. Women have always wanted to explore and express themselves, hence, instead of a boring blouse, they wore a printed or colorful one or, maybe, a colored headband.

During the 1930s, men had to go for WWII and, women had to multitask looking after the household, babies and, even the crops in the fields. They partially took ‘male oriented’ roles and hence, wore durable pieces of denims or swollen suits in workplaces.

THE 1940s-1950s

While new overalls were created for women working in factories, the women in offices wore wide-legged pants and, blouses.

They were required to maintain a certain haircut or makeup that complemented their clothing.

Women had to go back from being multi-taskers to just housewives as the men were returning from war at the end of this time. A new wardrobe of women was on hold till they returned to their homes.

THE 1960s-1970s

The 1960s were all about fashion trends. The women now wanted to shift from a bob haircut to longer hair. They also desired to wear shorter skirts now!

This desire to shift fashion trends also affected women’s clothing in their workplaces with short boxy jackets and tweed skirts.

Women were filling up workplaces with their presence and work with their merry and, sunshine attitude. There was a whole new wave of feminism. Women were exploring a variety of looks but there was still controversy if they should wear trousers, dresses, or skirts in their workplaces.

The evolution of women’s workwear had come a long way by now from big boxy attires to what women wanted to wear (which definitely weren’t boxy suits!).

THE 1980s-1990s

During the 1980s and, women were feeling more empowered and this was visible through the bright array of colors they were portraying through their bright and bold colors and intricate button details. These helped women to make a statement in their workplace.

Hillary Clinton was known for her pant-suit look and the power suits remained in trend.

In contrast to the 1980s, women were back to ‘minimalism’ in the 1990s. The bright and bold colors turn to bland and beige tones and, short skirts became shorter.

2000s-2010s

While law offices needed the women to wear suits, creative offices allowed women to wear t-shirts and jeans with flats or ankle boots instead of full suits. The comfort of the employees was regarded as an important aspect as their comfort provided better ideas and results in the workplace.

During this time, the body took pride in places of work. Michelle Obama is known for her well-defined powerful arms and flat abs. Body-obscuring dresses are no longer a thing and women are allowed to show off their bodies even in workplaces, not revealing their body completely but, by wearing body complimenting modest attires.

Now And The Future

The need to wear formal attires is not a compulsion anymore, but a choice.

The evolution of women’s workwear has been a hell of a rollercoaster ride, from changing attires to society’s mindsets!

There’s more room for creativity for women, exploring numerous options from dresses with a sleek belt on the waist and stilettos, to a suit or an oversized blazer or jacket. Women can make fashion statements in their work area with either bold outfits or even minimalistic ones.

It’s all on the women!

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