A Pantsuit Nation Is Brewing In Fashion. Here's How To Get Into It

With relaxed silhouettes and vibrant colored suits awash on the AW17 catwalks, dressing for the job you want has never been bolder

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Confession: I've never worn a proper suit to work. Working in the creative field of fashion, I never had to. But I also came of professional age at a time when too much tailoring was viewed as too oppressive, try-hard, or nakedly ambitious.

'Power dressing' was a term to roll one's eyes at. Suits were the stuff of dry industries with rigid dress codes (shirts must be button down, pantyhose must be on, shoes must be close-toed, that sort of thing.) Instead, the young lawyers, doctors and finance types I knew spent their time trying to escape them.

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But now, I've fallen hard for the most formal of corporate uniforms - a double-breasted blazer (double-breasted!) and a pair of crisp, tailored trousers - and I suspect you will to.

Dries Van Noten AW17

You see, fashion has made a strong case for putting down the trainers and backing away from the tracksuit (unless, of course, you're actually headed to the gym.) It's turning out to be a year of serious workwear — as in, clothing that demands you run the professional track, fashion that dares you to wear your career goals on your sleeve — and commuter dressing has become a whole lot sexier because of it.

Leandra Medine
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After several seasons in which our nine-to-five and off-duty dressing became completely blended, and absolutely comfortable (raise your hand if you thinking nothing of wearing a hoodie to the office), we're witnessing a dramatic shift in mood, one that cuts a stark contrast to the more casual sport and street wear we've all grown attached to. Fashion has never been one to sit still for too long.

The new power dressing started gaining steam at the pre-fall 17 women's collections, with the rise of double-breasted trouser suits at Stella McCartney, Max Mara and Tibi. And then came the men's shows, where brands ranging from Balenciaga to Martine Rose all showed very directional takes on commuter dressing, complete with boxy shoulder padded tailoring, stiff button downs and khakis.

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And the trend carried right over to the autumn/winter women's shows, where the look was less conceptual and more about appealing, wearable clothes to make you feel a little more emboldened to ask for that promotion.

In New York, Proenza Schouler touched on the idea with clever takes on officewear staples: oversized work jackets and work trousers, all spliced with large zippers and sporty logos. Max Mara, meanwhile, gave its working woman a Nineties silhouette in slouchy, mannish tailoring and a bold colour palette that made a nice counterpoint to the brand's trademark jet-set glamour (though the collection had plenty of that as well). And the workwear train powered through Calvin Klein, Céline, Dries van Noten and Dior,too.

Céline AW17

Designers were hardly the only ones to modernise the old way of power dressing; 2016 might have been the year of Hillary Clinton's pant suit, but the former presidential candidate's failed run for office has inspired a whole new demographic of women to take a baseball bat to the glass ceiling in their own work lives.

Not to mention the women who, for better or worse, have had pivotal roles in the debates surrounding Brexit including Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Gina Miller and Nicola Sturgeon. And lets not forget the power politicos of television, from Acting President of the United States Claire Underwood's controlled tailoring on House of Cards to President Mellie Grant's slightly softer version on Scandal. Fashion has taken note.

House of Cards' Claire Underwood

'I've always been about empowering women and never was there a time when that was more relevant,' Victoria Beckham said backstage at her AW17 show, while models walked around in her bold shouldered double-breasted jackets and chiffon skirts.

Beckham has always had a cult following for her work wear; her press notes described ' a sense of emancipation' running through her feminine take on menswear tailoring and 'gentlemen's club colors'. It echoed the general feeling in the air during the catwalk shows, as one womenswear designer after another (both male and female) made an argument for leaning all the way in.

Power-suit nation? It certainly looks like one is afoot.

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