The ‘skirt suit’ has always been the pinnacle of power dressing. It calls to mind images of women on a mission to smash the glass ceiling: Melanie Griffith in Working Girl; the ruthless mean girls in the classic teen film Heathers; and sharp 1950s film sirens such as Grace Kelly.
They were the kind of women who wanted to semaphore their power and femininity via a serious amount of shoulder-padding and curve-clinging.
The last time the skirt suit was riding the modern fashion wave, the look was pretty severe. Demna Gvasalia’s corseted, checked peplum jackets and matching skirts for the Balenciaga 2016 autumn/winter collection made me long for the kind of life that calls for serious tailoring wizardry.
But shoulder pads and skintight skirts don’t have much of a place in today’s office-shy work wardrobe. Faced with both working from home and easing back into office life, we need a new type of power dressing.
So I’m pleased to report that the skirt suit is back, but not as we know it. It’s more relaxed, and it’s hardly a ‘suit’ at all, since the jacket and skirt don’t need to match.
The trend for bourgeois dressing has a lot to do with this softer take: think flowy pleated skirts, little jackets and silk, pussy-bow blouses.
How to tackle the look? First, find the right blazer.
If you’re tall, treat yourself to a narrow, tailored style. Or, if you want to steer away from formal, try a print: I love Zara’s paisley design.
Then pair it with a soft skirt in the same palette or in a contrasting colour. Nod to 1990s minimalism with The Fold’s toffee satin midi, or pick a pleated style for more structure.
Me+Em’s green skirt is the perfect length to wear with trainers or heels. And, hey presto: power dressing for the new normal.