Even more shocking than the miniskirt, the birth control pill, or the sexual revolution was the appearance of pants for women. The 60's shook it up, as women—and the pants they were in—took a stand against female fashion oppression.
Ladies first wore pants in the late 20’s and 30’s as elegant casual wear. These pants were fluid and wide-legged, and were only worn by the most progressive of gals as lounging pants. They were never seen as formal wear, and most certainly not as business wear. During the 40’s, ladies took to wearing dungarees at the factories, but these pants were never worn outside of the workforce. The feminine frills of the 50’s celebrated womanhood, and even capri pants were more for fun and frolic than anything else.
It was the arrival of the pantsuit, a two-piece outfit that went from work to dinner, that had the establishment bent out of shape. The swinging 60’s did more than swing, they strode in flirty and sassy pantsuits for gals. Two young designers, Sally Tuffin and Marion Foale, introduced the pantsuit in the early 60’s to much controversy. Yes, this was an outfit meant to compete with anything else on the street: whether the little black dress or the miniskirt.
Tuffin and Foale’s pantsuits gained acceptance from the smart young set when Cathy McGowan of the hit music show Ready Steady Go pranced around in the shocking suit, and made it look fabulous. Soon after pants were adopted, the shocking navel show of hip huggers crept up for an even bigger scandal.
The pantsuit was elegant, and when couturier Courreges did slim-leg pantsuits for his line, even the conventional women followed. But pantsuits were still deemed unacceptable attire for ladies in upscale establishments, and there are many stories of ladies being refused service or entrance in restaurants because of those uncouth pants. It wasn’t until the unisex 70’s that pants became acceptable attire for dinner, and were seen on all ladies—young or old, street or proper.