In the past year and a half, we’ve seen more women confront political, social, and economical challenges than ever before. Movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up have compelled people to rethink women’s roles in society, both personally and professionally. Where an exciting shift has been seen is in our wardrobe, with fashion designers redefining what femininity means today.
The idea of women wearing pants is still a newly-accepted concept, believe it or not. To put it into perspective, women in the U.S. Congress were not allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor until 1993. During the ‘20s and ‘30s—if women were seen wearing pants at all—it fell into the category of leisurewear, meant for lounging or sporting activities like horseback riding. Women’s workplace apparel began to change in the late 1960s when it became socially acceptable to show up in slacks. So why did it take another two decades for this so-called “pantsuit revolution” to ensue? Because there was no such thing as suits made for women, just womenswear that emulated menswear with bulky shouldered jackets and baggy pants.
Suits are not just for those business-minded individuals, they’re a tool for empowerment seen both in and outside the office. The women in today’s society don’t have to dress overtly masculine to have their competence recognized or rely on clothing to assert their authority — all we’re asking for is a wardrobe that’s both functional and fashionable. Argent, a New York-based clothing company, is addressing this apparel crisis head-on.
Founded in 2016 by Sali Christeson and Eleanor Turner, the two have created an innovative line of garments that cater to the new generation of working women. “When we first started talking about Argent and what it was going to be, I knew I didn’t want it to be just another line of work clothing,” Turner explained. “I spoke with working women, from lawyers to tech leaders to creatives, and brought my own personal experience to address similar pain points. I realized that a big problem plaguing women’s workwear was a lack of functionality.”
Turner, herself, comes from a fashion background with a design degree from SCAD and a résumé that includes beloved American brands such as J. Crew and Tory Burch. She later met Christeson in 2014, who was working her way through the tech scene in Silicon Valley. Together, the two endured their fair share of dressing dilemmas, whether it was judgments for what they wore within the workplace or a lack of variety on the retail side. For Turner, being a designer meant not only creating things that people could buy, but “engineering solutions to problems into the clothes that people can actually use.”
Currently, Argent offers a mix-match of trousers, tops, blazers, jumpsuits, sweaters, and skirts fitted with hidden features meant to make your day-to-day easier. These include discrete pockets for credit cards or ID’s sewn into waistbands; jumpsuits that you don’t have to totally remove to use the bathroom; and jackets that can accommodate all your media necessities including an earphone channel that runs through the sleeves. “You can see this engineering across the collection in pieces like the reversible suits, media and stylus pockets, microfiber pocket bags (for cleaning glasses and iPhone screens), and moisture-wicking material,” Turner said.
Not only is their workwear super functional, it is also impeccably made using well-cut, high-quality fabrics that can even respond to your body’s temperature. You won’t find many corporate-colored navy blues, blacks, grays, or beige throughout their collections (although they do offer some), but rather offbeat color palettes and playful patterns that are both feminine and fun. And we all know how much corporate culture can vary from finance to free-spirited creative spaces, but Argent’s apparel appeals to those with the most casual and/or strictest of dress codes. That way, you can rock a blazer with a pair of boyfriend jeans or suit up with your favorite sneakers.
As their e-commerce site suggests, finding workwear women love shouldn’t be revolutionary. After all, it’s been a staple in men’s closets for, well, as long as most people can remember. This notion in particular is reflective of the climate that we’re living in now, where women are fighting just as much for equal pay as they are for access to the same array of apparel. This is in large part why Turner and Christeson started Argent in the first place—a fully women-founded, women-run business. Turner explained, “A lot of companies that design women’s workwear are run by men who are making decisions based on things they don’t have personal experience with.” She recalled even once being told by a venture capitalist that, “utility doesn’t belong in women’s clothing.”
Since Argent’s start, they’ve made their rounds through the celebrity and political circuit, seen most famously on former Democratic presidential nominee and pantsuit aficionado, Hillary Clinton. By building this new set of workplace staples, Argent hopes this allows women to concentrate more so on overcoming everyday challenges, rather than figuring out if their outfit is office-friendly.