중앙데일리

As women rise up the ladder their clothes send a message

Feb 20,2007
Photos by Kim Seong-ryong
omen in pants are coming. Being able to chose between pants or skirts is a privilege granted only to women ― except for Scottish lads in kilts. So a girl chooses either a skirt suit or a pantsuit. The upper piece of the pantsuit is called a tailored jacket because of its resemblance to a man’s suit jacket.
Women in pants were the dominant life form on the streets of America in the 1980’s. This reflected women’s social status at the time. Since then, however, formal attire has given way to more casual clothing. Jeans became almost acceptable as business wear and so women’s pantsuits rarely had an opportunity to get out of the wardrobe. Now, after some twenty years, pantsuits are back.
The popular television series “Sex and the City” featured four women, each with a distinctive sense of style. The short-haired, big shot lawyer Miranda sometimes wore pantsuits, which differentiated her from the other three girls. Carrie, the sex columnist, was in love with extravagant shoes and dresses. PR executive Samantha was the bold one who showed lots of skin, while Charlotte preferred reserved but elegant styles.
Although a career woman, Miranda only wore pantsuits sometimes. She did not insist on it. As a matter of fact, the four New Yorkers were overwhelmingly in favor of skirts. Since they were the style icons for trendy and fashionable people worldwide, skirts were pretty much the in thing, at least between 1998 and 2004 when the show was in production.
The revival of tailored jackets began with last year’s 2007 spring-summer collections.
Designer Yohji Yamamoto showed off a tuxedo-like jacket as his No. 1 choice for his Paris Collection.
Ann Demeulemeester and Stella McCartney came to Paris at the same time with masculine women’s suits and long dress jackets that cover the thighs.
The fashion industry is definitely turning towards a more masculine line. Even the very feminine French designer Sonia Rykiel, whose shows are usually full of flowers and lace, unveiled pantsuits that emphasized shoulders and minimized hips. Theory, a brand imported and retailed by Cheil Industries, also focused on women’s pantsuits for this spring.
More affordable brands have also joined this flow. Hirst, originally a casual brand, launched a pantsuit line this spring, as did Codes Combine, YK038 and Jessi New York.
Some fashion experts say the return of the pantsuit is all about career women making a statement about their right to be fashionable
The fashion journalist Toby Fischer-Mirkin observed in his book “Dress Code” that woman in suits and ties without any feminine accessories send the message, “I can compete with any man.”

Photos by Kim Seong-ryong
The resurgence of the tailored jacket is not irrelevant to this analysis, and the increasing number of women with professional jobs probably strengthens the trend. Recent research by the National Statistical Office showed that 70 percent of newly created professional job openings were filled by women last year.
Fun Wear International’s marketing manager Seo Yeon-jeong comments, “It would be going too far to say that the virility in women’s clothing this season is ‘women challenging men,’ but it certainly is a reflection of changes in gender status in society.”
The fashion industry now concentrates on the consumer power of women. A survey of 100 distribution industry experts conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce in 2005 showed that 92.3 percent believed women to be the more influential consumer group, compared to men (7.7 percent). As for age groups, women in their 30s (61.5 percent) were thought to be far more significant than the women in their 20s (26.2 percent). With pantsuits, the fashion industry has given women in their 30s exactly what they want.
A pantsuit does not have to be stale and stereotyped. A simple touch can lighten up a dull suit, and this season’s pantsuits are doing just that.
Jacket sleeves or necklines detailed with lace and ruffles give a feminine polish to the rigid pantsuit. Moon Keun-young’s simple jacket with a ruffle-neck inner blouse in the movie “Love Me Not” is the perfect example.
A balanced combination of fancy and plain is also important. To a flower patterned pantsuit, try matching a low v-neck knit. This will give the outfit an adequate mixture of masculinity and femininity.
Layering is another good way of softening down. An above-the-waist black jacket over a shirt that covers the hips with jeans will be a fashionable application of the tailored jacket.


By Ghang Seung-min Staff Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]


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