How To Buy A Suit For Work

BlogHer Original Post

I’m always on the lookout for the perfect suit.  At my job, the dress code requires that I wear a suit to work at least a couple of days each week, so I have acquired several suits over the years.  My goal is to make sure that I feel confident and look powerful. When I bought my first suit, I found the entire experience a little overwhelming.  I went to several stores and tried on a range of styles before I found the right one. What color suit should I buy? What style suit should I wear? What type of fabric? Pantsuit or skirt suit? I now have a plan in place that allows my shopping experience to go pretty smoothly.  Today, I wanted to share some of my tips that could help you find your perfect work suit. 

I. Know your Budget:  One of the first things to do is figure out how much money you want to spend.  Unfortunately, most suits can be pretty expensive.  The average woman is likely to spend about $250 to $300 on a suit at some point in her life. Remember that your suit should be the best quality that you can afford on your budget.  Luckily, these days you can find suits at all price points.

II. Where to Buy: Once you know how much you want to spend, then you can decide where you want to shop. Here’s a little guide on where to find a great suit at some of my favorite stores.

  • $50 to $200 Budget: Shopping at discount stores like Marshalls, Ross, TJ Maxx and Filene’s Basement, you can find a number of quality, name-brand styles for extremely low prices.  I’ve found several designer suits and I’ve spent anywhere from $40 to $80each.  Also check out department stores like JC Penney, Kohl’s, and Macy’s.  These stores have a nice variety of suiting separates at amazing savings. And don’t forget to check out your local thrift stores or consignment stores for a fabulous suit.  If you have some extra time to look for a suit and to do some tailoring, this option could be right for you. 
  • $200 to $600 Budget: Some of my favorite stores like J. Crew, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, and Ann Taylor offer a great range of suits for mid-level prices.  I bet that the average working woman has at least one suit from one of these stores.  You can always find something on sale: It might not be the perfect basic color or style you need, but it's a great way to build up your collection.  You can also find some great deals by shopping at higher-end department stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor.
  • $600 to $1,000 (+) Budget: If you have a little extra money to spend, then checking out stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman will be right up your alley.  Buying brands like Chanel, Hugo Boss, and Dolce & Gabbana will cost you anywhere between $2,000and $5,000.

III. Colors and Patterns: There are give essential suits you consider buying over time.  Whether you are building up your wardrobe or buying your first suit, stick with neutral colors; if you're interviewing for a job, stay away from bright colors like red, pink, royal blue, and orange, as well as busy patterns.  (However, if you are interviewing for a creative or artsy-type job and you're sure colorful suits are expected, then by all means wear your colors. )

  • Black Suit: In my opinion, a black suit should be first on your list.  It's a timeless classic that allows you to have a ton of styling options.  Depending on the time of year or an event like a wedding, a black suit might not be the best option.  Some people also believe that a black suit might look a little too harsh on women with fair complexions, so be sure to wear some color underneath to add a little lightness to the look.


  • Navy Suit: The next color you should consider owning is navy.  It’s a staple color in most men and women’s wardrobes.  It’s a great alternative to the black suit, especially at a wedding.



  • Gray Suit: Buy either light gray or charcoal gray -- either would be an instant hit.


  • Pinstripe Suit:  Ease your way into patterns with a pinstripe. The stripes should be very thin and subtle to keep the look very sophisticated.  Another bonus with the pinstripe suit is that the stripes can make you look taller and a little slimmer. 


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