Today Commandress is introducing a new feature. “Commandress Style Rules” are a quick way to understand the basics of any style topic. Commandress Style Rules are meant to be thorough, but not exhaustive. As with any skill, once you’ve mastered the basic rules you will be better prepared to develop your own approach – and style.
1. Tailored suits are the traditional approach to professional dressing. The most formal look is a matched suit, which includes a jacket paired with a skirt, pants, or dress of the same fabric. (Commandress recently featured tailored suits by Hugo Boss and Armani Collezioni.)
2. A basic professional wardrobe should include suits in neutral colors such as black, brown, navy, grey, beige, and white. As a general rule, dark suit colors will convey more authority than light suit colors.
3. Please do not limit your suit wardrobe to black. Black is not universally flattering – it makes some complexions look terrible. A black suit must be impeccably styled and tailored or it will look drab and dull. Although black is slimming, any dark and monochromatic suit (or outfit) will provide the same slimming effect. Additional color options include navy, charcoal, chocolate brown, and even dark green, plum, or burgundy.
4. Professional suits are typically made from closely woven fabrics with a medium to heavy weight. Natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and blends are all used in suits. Typical fabrics include wool, heavy cotton, tweed, gabardine, flannel, and double knits. Fabrics that include some stretch are generally more comfortable and hold their shape better. Most suits are dry clean only (because of the fabric and to retain the suit’s shape), but some suits made from polyester blends are machine washable.
5. When selecting professional suits, you should always buy the best quality you can afford. It is preferable to have fewer suits that are the highest possible quality. They will look better on you and last longer.
6. The most universally flattering jacket shape for women is a single button and single breasted style, which emphasizes (or creates) an hourglass shape.
7. The most flattering jacket shape for a large bust is a single breasted style with a single button that rests under the bust.
8. Double breasted jackets can add visual weight, and therefore look best on women who are petite and/or have small busts. When trying on a double breasted jacket, consider how the jacket looks both buttoned and unbuttoned (which could be awkward and unflattering).
9. The most versatile suit jackets end at the high hip. This length looks well-proportioned with pants, skirts, and dresses and can usually be paired well with separates.
10. If a jacket fits your shoulders but is too large in your back, waist, or hips, it is a simple and relatively inexpensive alteration to have the sides taken in as needed.
11. Fitted shoulders and sleeves on jackets and tailored dresses are modern and slimming. Narrowing jacket sleeves is an expensive and difficult alteration, so look for jackets and dresses with sleeves that are already tailored to the size of your arm.
12. Buy the size in skirts or pants that fits the largest part of your body. It is usually a simple and relatively inexpensive alteration to have the sides taken in as needed.
13. The most professional and flattering fit for suit pants is a straight leg with no pleating. Suit pants should be streamlined and fitted at the hip, but they should never be too tight.
14. Suit skirts and dresses can be more fitted than pants, but a little breathing room (1 to 2 inches) will be more comfortable and create fewer creases and wrinkles over the course of a day.
15. Buying the matching skirt, pants and/or dress to go with a jacket will give many different options as a set and as separates, but you should always get your suit sets dry cleaned together in case the chemicals affect the color.
Readers – Do you have other tips to share on suits for the office? Do you have any favorite stores to check out when you need a new suit?