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Author Topic: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....  (Read 10680 times)

flyaway

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2008, 05:32:29 AM »
Where exactly should sleeves fall?  I buy my suits from J. Crew and Banana Republic, because they're the only Talls I've found (in jackets, as opposed to just the pants... bc most stores don't know that people with long legs have long arms), but I'm still not convinced they're quite long enough.  But they could be let out a little.
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mbw

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2008, 06:01:41 AM »
This thread is timely.  I just purchased my first suit in years, a single button jacket with pants (though I'll add a matching skirt soon) from Jones New York.  Ironically, although I'm not particularly short (5'6") I had to purchase the jacket in a petite, as the arms were way too long on the regular.  I like it, as I am also curvy, and the single button I believe is more flattering to those of us thusly endowed.  The suit is somewhat conservative in cut, but the color is a little non-trad (I think it's called platinum, but it's really a dark olive, almost brown.)  They also have the suit in black and dark gray, but my non-trad skin tone worked better with the platinum.  The antique pink shell I bought goes perfect underneath.

I start my new job today, and am wearing that very suit.  Just bought shoes to match yesterday.  :D
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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2008, 09:09:11 AM »
Woot for the curvy people!!! I'll start looking at single buttons.

meggo- do you have any resources for clothing that is ethically made? I hate to be all Debbie Downer, but I have boycotted a lot of places because of their filthy business practices. Quality also seems to be horrendous at places like Banana Republic (in my experience, but lots of people seem to feel differently).

Frankly, I have been on a vintage/ upscale consignment kick for a few years. What do you think it is worth doing tailoring-wise, and what isn't fixable? I saw you mentioned shoulders before, are they an area that just has to fit off the rack or the whole endeavor is fruitless?

Thank you so much again. I know I have about six months before I need much in the way of clothes, but I need some time to look and try on so the advice is very timely.

Oh, also, watches. I wear a gold and diamond ring, does that preclude a silver/ platinum watch?


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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2008, 11:04:27 AM »
I don't know about Banana Republic, but I love J. Crew's cut and quality (and sale prices!). 

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2008, 12:17:20 PM »
I really like Theory stuff myself.  It seems to be good quality and very professional looking but still trendy enough it's not boring.

As far as shoes go, what kind of flats are appropriate?  I am 5'8'' and I don't wear heels because I don't like being any taller than that.  I am sure people will say "you can still wear heels" but it's a personal choice I've made and I really don't like to wear them.  I love ballet flats and wear them with business casual usually (think black pencil skirt, white blouse, silver crocodile ballet flats) but I don't know if they are appropriate with a suit?  I was thinking some flat pointy toed black shoes would be okay but that seems too plain for me!

I'm also wondering about color.  I am planning on getting at least one suit for law school and then obviously working my way out from there when I start a real job, but I don't like colored suits.  For some reason, I think that most of them look kind of cheap and a little outdated.  I like black, navy, gray, etc., but the taupes and greens and stuff just don't do it for me.  In a more casual office would it be appropriate to pair a black bottom with a tweed blazer or a nice skirt with a dressy shirt and cardigan or do only full suits go?

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2008, 12:43:45 PM »
I don't know about Banana Republic, but I love J. Crew's cut and quality (and sale prices!). 

I agree - J. Crew is great.  The Banana Republic is good, too.

For those who are iffy about buying a suit, I would really strongly suggest you invest in one (preferably a three piece suit - skirt, blazer, pants - so you can get more out of it).  Particularly when you're first starting out, I think it's important to make a strong, professional first impression.  Not to get on a semi-feminist tirade here, but the law profession unfortunately can still be considered a "man's world," and you want make sure you are taken seriously.  Thus, to be very candid, I think that if you forgo the suit for let's say, a cardigan and a skirt, you might be mistaken, to use a cliche, as "the secretary" and not perceived as a a lawyer on the same level as your male peers. Of course, I'm not saying this is fair, but it's just the way it is right now.  However, once you establish yourself and get a better idea of the place you'll be working in, then you can maybe try out other things for days you know you will be just be staying in the office.  But on days when you are seeing clients or especially any time you're in front of a judge, I believe a suit is best.  

But suits can be really fabulous!  The best thing is that with the right suit you can give yourself a powerful presence while still being very feminine.  And as others mentioned, using a neutral (black, grey, navy, brown, etc.) suit and matching it with a colorful blouse underneath is really a strong but feminine look.  Plus, accessories such as shoes, bags, jewelry can make an outfit.  

Also, I personally think a great show to watch is What Not to Wear.  It plays on TLC and reruns are often on, so you will be able to catch episodes that features professional women with your body type.  You'll get good ideas regarding fit (I agree that this is the most important thing!) and how to put certain pieces together (such as mixing subtle pattern with a louder pattern, color combos, etc.).
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Vicki11NYR

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2008, 01:09:33 PM »
I really like Theory stuff myself.  It seems to be good quality and very professional looking but still trendy enough it's not boring.

As far as shoes go, what kind of flats are appropriate?  I am 5'8'' and I don't wear heels because I don't like being any taller than that.  I am sure people will say "you can still wear heels" but it's a personal choice I've made and I really don't like to wear them.  I love ballet flats and wear them with business casual usually (think black pencil skirt, white blouse, silver crocodile ballet flats) but I don't know if they are appropriate with a suit?  I was thinking some flat pointy toed black shoes would be okay but that seems too plain for me!

I'm also wondering about color.  I am planning on getting at least one suit for law school and then obviously working my way out from there when I start a real job, but I don't like colored suits.  For some reason, I think that most of them look kind of cheap and a little outdated.  I like black, navy, gray, etc., but the taupes and greens and stuff just don't do it for me.  In a more casual office would it be appropriate to pair a black bottom with a tweed blazer or a nice skirt with a dressy shirt and cardigan or do only full suits go?


I think neutral suits are best, too.  I'm not a fan of the "colored" ones.  I'm a little iffy on black, too, to be honest.  I prefer grey, navy, and brown, depending on the color.  White is great too.

Regarding the shoes, my sister has a medical problem with her foot where she actually cannot wear heals, so she wears tons of flats instead.  For a pant suit, I would agree pointy-toed are best, but you're not limited just to black.  For a skirt suit, you can probably also do round toed flats as well as pointy-toed.  But I personally would be careful with ballet flats. Also, you could try a kitten heel, which is a shoe with a very small heel, like only an inch, so it won't add too much height.
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pikey

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2008, 03:01:02 PM »
I don't know about Banana Republic, but I love J. Crew's cut and quality (and sale prices!). 

I agree - J. Crew is great.  The Banana Republic is good, too.

For those who are iffy about buying a suit, I would really strongly suggest you invest in one (preferably a three piece suit - skirt, blazer, pants - so you can get more out of it).  Particularly when you're first starting out, I think it's important to make a strong, professional first impression.  Not to get on a semi-feminist tirade here, but the law profession unfortunately can still be considered a "man's world," and you want make sure you are taken seriously.  Thus, to be very candid, I think that if you forgo the suit for let's say, a cardigan and a skirt, you might be mistaken, to use a cliche, as "the secretary" and not perceived as a a lawyer on the same level as your male peers. Of course, I'm not saying this is fair, but it's just the way it is right now.  However, once you establish yourself and get a better idea of the place you'll be working in, then you can maybe try out other things for days you know you will be just be staying in the office.  But on days when you are seeing clients or especially any time you're in front of a judge, I believe a suit is best.  

But suits can be really fabulous!  The best thing is that with the right suit you can give yourself a powerful presence while still being very feminine.  And as others mentioned, using a neutral (black, grey, navy, brown, etc.) suit and matching it with a colorful blouse underneath is really a strong but feminine look.  Plus, accessories such as shoes, bags, jewelry can make an outfit.  

Also, I personally think a great show to watch is What Not to Wear.  It plays on TLC and reruns are often on, so you will be able to catch episodes that features professional women with your body type.  You'll get good ideas regarding fit (I agree that this is the most important thing!) and how to put certain pieces together (such as mixing subtle pattern with a louder pattern, color combos, etc.).

I'm not sure that I agree with the bolded.  In a more casual office, seperates can look just as professional as anything the men wear, depending on how you wear it.  For example, today I'm wearing a green dress (knee length, conservative yet flattering) with a khaki short-sleeved blazer, and dark brown peep-toe heels.  I look professional, yet stylish (not just my opinion;  :P I've gotten several compliments!).  Since we're business casual, I usually wear a "suit" of seperates, a blazer/cardigan with a shell/button-down and pants/skirt that coordinate but don't match.  That way you have the professionalism of a suit in a more casual presentation.  Quality is key when wearing seperates.  Most of my work clothes, other than some of the shells, come from BR and Ann Taylor/AT Loft.  Fit is also crucial.  I also advise to stay away from  super trendy styles.  A high-waisted pencil skirt is gonna look a lot more "secretary" than one that hits about an inch below your navel.  I usually stock up when my fav stores are having sales.  Right now many stores are having sales on summer clothing, which will be perfect for next summer's job, assuming you buy classic.

In the end, it all depends on the culture of the firm.  Obviously, if everyone else is wearing suits every day, then you should follow suit (no pun intended).  However, if all the men are wearing button-downs with no jacket every day, you run the risk of looking "uptight" if you're always in a suit.

I totally agree that What Not to Wear is a great show for fashion and fit advice.  I actually "What not to Weared" my sister a few months ago, since she had just graduated from grad school and was starting her first "real" job.  Wardrobe Oxygen is a great blog for practical wardrobe advice for the fashion challenged.  I also like to look at the editorial suggestions at banana republic and ann taylor (loft) to get ideas of different ways to combine seperates.
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meggo

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2008, 06:05:31 PM »
vjm - no debbie downer at all! I completely understand! Of course the problem is that things which are ethically made are usually very expensive. It seems like what you said 'high end consignment' is a really great option for getting quality suits. My mum has had some of her suits for 20 years. Another option of course is if you find a suit you really love, sometimes suitmakers come to town, and you can take them your suit and they will make you an exact copy. I grew up in a small city, and once a year a tailor would come to down and make suits/shirts/etc. custom for men and women. Yes, I think shoulders are the one thing that really cannot be fixed. Of course it's possible, but it's very expensive and the chances for disaster are that much higher. Anything else can really be fixed. Sleeves can be hemmed. If the blazer is a bit loose, it can be taken in at the seams on the side, and the length of it can be hemmed as well. Of course any time working with a suit and getting it tailored prices are going to be a bit more expensive but the differences it makes I guarantee you will be worth it.

If you really are clueless about clothing I agree What Not To Wear is a good show to watch in terms of mixing patterns and shapes, but the best thing is to just really know yourself and what you enjoy wearing and what works. And be honest. I always suggest looking at runway/high end fashion magazines because everything comes from them. Ann Taylor, J Crew to Forever 21, they all take a lot of their inspiration from mainline shows. I can see it everywhere when I walk around a store. Ah, that's very Lanvin. Ah, how interesting they copied Givenchy. etc. etc. It's like that terribly cheesy like in The Devil Wears Prada about Oscar de la Renta and cerillion. It's so true.

Yes, kitten heels are an option for heels because they have such a tiny heel but I find a lot of them can be a bit unattractive. I prefer to use them only as a building block to taller heels. But I understand some people just cannot do heels. But I would say - don't be put off if it at first walking heels seems uncomfortable. If you don't like it and it's completely impractical fair enough. But I guarantee you a week of wearing heels around the office, you'll find a huge improvement on your tolerance for them. Plus their so pretty  :P

I agree about colored suits. My mum can wear colored suits and she's one of the few people that can get away with it. She has quick a dark olive-y complexion so it works well with colors and she loves clothes and 'fashion' and that sort of thing, so it's really reflective or her personal style. She feels comfortable and confident in them (she has one that is lipstick red with a nehru collar) and that's what is really important. Get something that fits well and you feel comfortable and confident in.

For the sake of flats, here's a couple I've pulled (along with some low heel options) from the sale at Net-a-porter.com (my fav place to window browse/shop online!):

Purple Pointed toe Stella McCartney
Conservative Oscar de la Renta
Classic yet interesting Marc Jacobs
Beautiful and chic Marni
Marc Jacobs iconic mouse shoe in grey

They have a lot more, but these were just the first ones I saw that I liked and grabbed. They also have loads of ballet flats but I thought I'd focus just on the other type of flat. I'm still not convinced on traditional ballet flats with a suit, but I think it depends on the person on the type of suit they are wearing.

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Re: Women: Buying a suit and dressing for your job....
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2008, 11:41:09 AM »
i am 5'8" too, and i love the way heels look but i, too, hate being so tall around others. plus my fiance is only a few inches taller than me to begin with, so adding heels makes us the same height!! :) i have found that kitten heels are a good happy medium, especially with pants because it's not so obvious that they aren't high heels. i've spent a lot of time shoe shopping for kitten heels that are still fashionable looking and in my price range, and i've had good luck with steve madden. they seem to consistently have some sort of kitten heel shoe available each season.

for example, here's a pair i own (although i noticed online the leather doesn't look as shiny and nice as it does in person...but you get the idea). http://www.stevemadden.com/item.aspx?id=40522