Suit Up

From Julia Roberts to Meryl Streep, the Best '80s Power Suits (PHOTOS)

Watch out, fashionistas! The power suit may be making a comeback. The fierce look stars in 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' but those who really rocked it were the 1980s originals.

Foto Rob Verhorst

Ron Galella

Writer John T. Molloy first emphasized the idea of "power dressing"—a more conservative, authoratative style for the workforce—in his 1970's Dress for Success books. For women, this meant a sense of stylistic empowerment, ditching their feminine skirts for comfortable trousers, similar to the 1920s abandonment of the ever-constricting corset. Female power dressing aimed to radiate a sense of masculinity: there were over-accentuated shoulder pads, double-breasted jackets—both in either black, blue, or grey—and loose white button-down blouses. Around Molloy's time, the runways were also embracing power dressing for women, with designers including Giorgio Armani, Thierry Mugler, and Claude Montana showing collections that featured structed suit sets. By the time the early eighties approached, the power suit had taken off, worn by the likes of Nancy Reagan, Lauren Hutton, Joan Collins, and Diane Sawyer. The 1988 film, Working Girl, starring Melanie Griffith, showed power dressing in its prime, taking women to Wall Street for the first time. Two years after the film's release, Vogue's creative director Grace Coddington pronounced the trend of power dressing dead. "The message of competence and confidence sent by the woman in a grey pin-striped suit has been received and the majority of designers feel it's time to move on," she wrote in the magazine's January 1990 issue. While Coddington may have been right, the trend persisted well into the nineties—as displayed in Martin Scorsese's latest film, The Wolf of Wall Street. Although the popularity of the suit, the shoulder pads, and the theme of power dressing may have fizzled out in the late nineties, 2013 marks the year of their comeback. This past year, designers including Christian Dior, Gucci, and Giorgio Armani presented modern-day versions of the 1980s classic. Today's runways, however, are nothing compared to the original; from Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts to Glenn Close and Sigourney Weaver, a look at some of the decade's biggest, most powerful suited-up stars.  

Ron Galella

Meryl Streep

   

Ann Clifford

Jerry Hall

  

Foto Rob Verhorst

Grace Jones

  

Time & Life Pictures

Julia Roberts

   

Time & Life Pictures

Melanie Griffith

   

Time & Life Pictures

Joan Collins

   

Time & Life Pictures

Diane Sawyer

   

Time & Life Pictures

Glenn Close

   

Jim Smeal

Iman

   

Time & Life Pictures

Christie Brinkley

   

Time & Life Pictures

Sigourney Weaver

   

Ron Galella

Lauren Hutton

   

NBC NewsWire

Jane Pauley