Alternatives to Wearing a Suit

I used to think that having a suit (matching pants/skirt and blazer) was a must have in a business wardrobe for women. But nowadays, given the general shift to more casual work places and the fact that it is extremely challenging to find affordable suit separates that are actually flattering on a woman’s figure (in my experience, I have tried on tons of traditional suits and to this day have only found one that works on me), I have changed my philosophy. Having a traditional suit in your wardrobe is not absolutely necessary, but what is necessary is having options that can serve as even better alternatives to the standard suit. I’ve put some suggestions below. 

When the occasion calls for a traditional matching suit separates what do you wear? Would love to hear in the comments!

Occasion: Job Interview

Simple shift dress and matching jacket.

When I am getting ready for something like a job interview, I aim to look formal, yet simple. The goal is to look put together but at the same time, not too over the top as this could cause the interviewer to focus more on your clothing rather than you! In general, I tend to gravitate towards neutral colors for job interviews (black, navy, white, tan, etc) with simple cuts and understated jewelry. 

What I love about the ensemble below is the simplicity of the shift dress and the cut of the matching jacket. There’s no collar on this jacket, just simple, clean lines. And the jacket is also cropped which is great because it adds a flair of femininity and is figure flattering without being too obvious or trendy.

Occasion: New Business Pitch/ Presentation

When you’re leading a new business pitch, giving a presentation or doing something where you’ll be commanding attention, your wardrobe in that situation should help you meet that end. In this case, I think it’s actually okay to wear something a bit more eye catching and different because you want to stand out and be remembered. 

I love this outfit because the green color stands out, but it’s still reserved enough to allow you to maintain a professional appearance. The longer jacket is sophisticated and adds a twist on the traditional suit jacket. 

Occasion: Power Outfit

Sometimes, you just need to look like a boss at work so I’ve listed the ingredients that I think are key to creating that “power outfit” look. 

In general, when trying to put together a power outfit, here are some things I like to consider:

  1. When in doubt, opt for solid colors. Prints can sometimes be distracting.

  2. Flattering fit: whatever you choose, it’s important that what you wear looks good on your body.

  3. Conservative: try not too pick anything that’s really tight, short or revealing.

  4. Simplicity: opt for simple lines and flattering cuts (minimize ruffles, zippers, buttons, and other fancy details) and you should feel comfortable wearing it. If you have to constantly fidget or adjust your clothing, then it’s not the right power outfit for you.

Here’re some options (click on an image to go to the page):