Not-So-Basic Business Suiting Brands for Women
Last time, I outlined several ways in which women unwittingly sabotage themselves with workwear - to follow that post up with some positive energy, today’s post is all about my very favorite suiting options for that next step beyond The Basic Interview Suit. This is for gals with a foot in the door of the business world who may be producers or execs in need of an expansive Serious Business Wardrobe. I will also outline the pros, cons, and best body types for each brand.
Theory is well known as a go-to brand for a well-made, great-looking basic business suit. Theory offers classic, clean tailoring, seasonless materials that wear well through the day and that don’t need to be swapped out when the winds change, and a sort of modular system for finding the perfect fit from top to bottom. Each tag denotes not only the official Theory style and color names, but also the fabric type - for example, a blazer might be labeled Gabe 2, Urban, Steele. Gabe 2 is the cut of the jacket, Urban is the fabric type, and Steele is the color. This makes it easy to be 100% sure that your suit matches perfectly while you search for the right fit and cut of pants. You can also broaden your search easily - if Nordstrom is out of options in Urban Steele, you can quickly search those terms online. Colors and fabrics also return year after year, allowing you to expand your suit slowly. Fit wise, Theory typically runs slim and angular - good for petites who need a narrower shoulder and hip (then all you need to do is hem), while curvier ladies might have more trouble. Also, the variety greatly thins outside of black and gray. Stores seem to stock much less in navy and, while the brand usually offers additional colors each season, they aren’t made in every style. Blazers run about $425, but it’s such a popular brand that you can often find them on Ebay for less. If you know your sizes, you can find an entire suit for around $200, if not less.
Hugo Boss runs under the radar for women’s suits, and it’s no wonder - try to embed any link from their website, and you get a huge pic of a man’s face. Still, for women who want variety in fabric while retaining sophisticated, clean styling, Hugo Boss in one of my very favorites. Many women’s suiting brands try to add interest through frills, zippers, ruffles, and... well, really girlie details. HB will offer yes, another blue suit, but this time with a gorgeous subtle sheen or pattern. You can tell your suits apart without any of them feeling like the Lisa Frank item in your closet. Their Bashina shirts are also genius favorites of my executive clients, featuring classic collars combined with side zip closures, completely eliminating the dreaded button-front bust gap. This brand also runs large and is a great alternative if you are sized out of Theory. Blazers run around $600.
Elie Tahari and T Tahari
Elie Tahari skews much more modern, sharp, and urban than other brands, while still remaining sleek, clean, and professional. Perfect for more creative offices or very crisp personalities. Expect features like collarless jackets, mixed media, unconventional closures, and abstract patterns. Suiting is not the brand’s main agenda, so there will not be tons of variety in terms of cut. However, the fit is phenomenal for hourglass body types - I personally love how this brand highlights the waist while letting other (more voluminous) parts, have their room. Blazers run around $450. T Tahari skews even trendier, generally with more bells and whistles(though not always), and the fabrics sometimes even match those from the main line. T Tahari blazers go for about $200.
Caroline Issa by Nordstrom Signature (brand to watch!)
My client and I recently fell head over heels for the new suit by new designer Caroline Issa. So far, there’s only one suit, but the cut, fabric, and details are amazing and eye-catching without being in-your-face about it. The cut accommodates a bust and a rear. The price tag is hefty at $900 for a blazer, but yeah, it looks the part. Fingers crossed that the brand continues to put out suiting in future collections.
Sumissura - UNTESTED DARK HORSE CONTENDER!
...and for all you gals who have ever burned with jealousy while an SO ordered Made to Measure at Nordies or designed custom shirts online, you can all join me in excitement over Sumissura - the first bespoke suiting offering for women I’ve found that is a) convenient, b) stylish, c) responsive, and d) affordable! A custom pants suit starts at just $228 - yes, that’s the entire suit, not just the jacket. The range of colors and patterns offered is highly impressive and exciting. I’m working on placing an order to test this baby out, so stay tuned!