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For most of us, the term “power suit” calls to mind Angela Merkel or Hillary Clinton, women who have had to adopt a masculine uniform to operate in the male dominated world of global politics.
To a large extent, it’s a wise strategy. These women want media outlets to talk about what they’re saying, not what they’re wearing. But that was before trouser suits became a fashion statement. Before they became a staple of the runway and the red carpet. Before pink suits, in particular, became a soft power uniform for high-profile women.
The pink suit seems to be inescapable at the moment. In the past few weeks alone, we’ve seen it on the Duchess of Cambridge (Alexander McQueen) and the Countess of Wessex (Gabriela Hearst), and we have seen it again on Carrie Johnson when she and the PM touched down in Kigali, Rwanda, where they will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
There are many unspoken messages in this: Carrie usually wears dresses but, in choosing a suit, she may be using this moment to assert herself. The ensemble projects a confident image at a time when she is at the centre of rumours that she was considered for senior roles in the Foreign Office and Royal household at a time during which she and her now-husband Boris Johnson were having an affair (a spokesman for Mrs Johnson has described the claims as “totally untrue”).
That it’s an affordable Zara number is also tactful given that the country is on the brink of a recession.
The colour is important too though. A grey or navy suit would be unremarkable. A punchy fuchsia pink? Not so much. Pink is a semaphore for positivity, creativity and femininity. “Pink is psychologically soothing but also uplifting because it appeals to the creative part of our brain,” colour consultant Jules Standish told my colleague Melissa Twigg last month. “Studies even show that wearing pink makes us more compassionate with ourselves and kinder to others.”
Pink is a tonic in tough times like a cost of living crisis, while the suit has always been an easy and comfortable shortcut to a polished appearance. No wonder, then, that searches for pink clothes are up 96 per cent in the past two months, according to online retailer Love The Sales.
There’s also the fact that pink is a very easy colour for most people to wear, whatever your shade of choice. Pastel and mid-tone shades can lend warmth to fair complexions, but so too can candy, neon and fuchsia. Don’t believe me? Just look at Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, or Paris Hilton for most of the Noughties (miniature dog optional).
Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, who created a punchy signature shade for the fashion house, agrees. “Pink can be delicate, sensual, hedonistic and irreverent,” he told British Vogue in May. “Anyone looks great in the colour. That is why I have always had some pink pieces in all my collections.”
Ready to join the pink suit bandwagon? Not so fast, because pink suits are almost completely sold out across the high street thanks to celebrity endorsement so enthusiastic, it’s beginning to look a little like a red carpet uniform. Zendaya, the face of Valentino, attended the label’s show in Paris in March wearing a suit in the label’s now-signature hot pink. Then there was Lily James in a fuchsia Versace version for an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Kristen Stewart and Jessica Chastain have also been pictured in pink suiting in recent months. Even the gents are at it: Succession star Jeremy Strong was hailed one of the best dressed at the SAG Awards for his pink suit (pink looks fantastic with grey hair) and Timothee Chalamet has won praise for his Stella McCartney one.
So where can you get one? Me+Em’s slouchy take on the look and M&S’s deep rose pink version have both sold out, but you can still buy Reiss’s version, which comes in a cool pastel shade with flared trousers. There are also a handful of candy pink boyfriend-silhouette suits still in stock at Maje. Head to Jigsaw for a universally flattering almost-coral suit, with a slim-fitting trouser and single-breasted jacket. All Saints’ elegant pale pink has a similar tapered trouser, but with a slouchier jacket.
Ready to shop? These are the pink suit rules to know:
1. Know your pinks
This is more about confidence than skin tone, because a bright pink suit demands attention. If you’re just dipping a toe in the water, try a pale pastel pink or a warm rose. Jessica Chastain is proof that fair-skinned redheads don’t need to shy away from bright bubblegum hues. If your hair has silver tones, dare to go a little bolder – it might feel like a risk, but I promise it’ll pay off.
2. Find the right fit
Loose, boyfriend-style cuts are dominating the high street right now, and it makes for a very stylish-yet-laid back look. It can be challenging for petite silhouettes though, so take a look at Jigsaw and Reiss’s versions, which feature single-breasted blazers and slimmer-fitting trousers.
3. Keep accessories to a minimum
This is a bold look, so you don’t need to add much in the way of fussy jewellery or accessories. A white tee is a good base layer, but you could make a real impact in something brighter, like Carrie’s Tabitha Webb shirt with its warm red hues. If you can’t face heels like Kate’s, opt for sleek white trainers.
Pick your pink
FROM LEFT: Satin trim tuxedo blazer, £240, and trousers, £150, both coming soon, Jigsaw; Loose-fitting floaty suit jacket, £399 and floaty suit trousers, £239, both Maje; Aura single-breasted blazer, £268, and tailored flared trousers, £168, Reiss; Aleida blazer, £149, and trousers, £99, both All Saints at Selfridges