As described in this recent post on our Sonia Rykiel tunic, women gradually adopted trousers as everyday dress in the 1970s. While the Sonia Rykiel tunic demonstrates a somewhat ambivalent acceptance of trousers, this tan wool pants suit from our Study Collection would have been worn by a woman entirely convinced that trousers were here to stay.
Like many pants suits worn by women in the early 1970s, this pants suit borrows heavily from menswear; only the curved princess seams in the jacket designate it as womenswear. Unisex dressing was not uncommon in the early 1970s. Los Angeles designer Rudi Gernreich promoted a radical version of unisex dressing intended to eliminate all visible distinctions between men and women. Images of 1970s icons, like this photo of Mick and Bianca Jagger at their 1971 wedding, often pictured suit-clad men and women. Early 1970s fashion editorials featuring pants suits often focused on their easy practicality for the many women moving into the workforce. A February 15, 1972 Vogue editorial titled, "If you work, If you don't," suggested a dual role for pants suits: as work wear for women who worked outside the home, and as a legitimizing uniform for women who worked within the home.S2007.165.11AB Back view
The styling of this jacket can be linked to a specific category of menswear: military dress. The pockets, half-belt and inverted back pleat are borrowed from functional garments associated with the military and outdoor hunting dress. By 1973, United States involvement with the Vietnam War had been ongoing for over a decade. Counterculture youth wore surplus military garments as a form of protest, while abstracted military influences were seen in more mainstream dress. By the early 1970s, loose womens' shirts with patch pockets, described with the words 'military' or 'safari', were widely marketed through fashion advertisements. Haute couture was not immune to this trend, as demonstrated by this Yves Saint Laurent military-inspired women's pant suit from 1970.