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Suit yourself: as the business suit wanes, a look at the history and current state of office wear




Sir Hugh Fraser, then chief of Harrods, in his office in the Knightsbridge store in 1973.
Sir Hugh Fraser, then chief of Harrods, in his office in the Knightsbridge store in 1973.
Douglas Miller/Getty Images

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Being well suited to a job used to quite literally mean wearing a suit.

But after decades of symbolizing power, money and refined taste, the business suit is on its way out. As stated by Robin Givhan in her recent Washington Post piece, these days, “the most important person in the room is probably not wearing a suit.”

There are certain industries, like politics, law and finance, where the power suit still prevails. But in the typical office, casual Friday has mission-creeped into the rest of the workweek. Some theorize that Silicon Valley has killed the last vestige of workwear formality (and no, a grey hoodie does not count as formal wear). Another theory is that changing gender demographics have played a role in changing what’s acceptable to wear at work, for both men and women.

What does the power suit mean to you? What clothing is appropriate at your workplace and has the standard changed over the years? Why or why not?

Guest:

Robin Givhan, fashion critic for the Washington Post; her recent piece is “A history of the final dying days of the power suit