In her eight years rising through the ranks of J.P. Morgan, Joanna Dai spent her days–and late nights–in starchy business suits. In the male-dominated world of investment banking, the blazer and matching trouser set was like a suit of armor. Wearing this archetypal menswear garment–full of lines and angles–was a way to channel masculinity. The boxiness of the outfit downplayed her curves and masked her sexuality. "I wanted to walk into a meeting and mirror the man I was in there doing business with," Dai explains. "It reflected how similar we were in rank and competence." advertisement advertisement Women have worn menswear to work for decades now. The modern women's pantsuit originates in the 1920s, when women were just beginning to enter the workforce in greater numbers and taking on leadership positions in government. But the golden age of the pantsuit is arguably the 1980s, when blazers with enormous shoulder pads were all the rage among professional women. This was the first time that more women were working than staying home, and their role in management positions jumped from 20% to 36%. Between 1980 and 1987, the annual sale of women's suits increased by $600 million. Over the last decade, however,… Read full this story
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