Ladies' Dress Suits

Danielle Jennings
grey ladies suit

Investing in ladies' dress suits is one of the most worthwhile fashion decisions a woman can make. Not only does a well-fitting suit instantly add power and polish to any wardrobe, it also offers a sensible option when those unexpected job interviews, meetings with high-powered clients and various formal occasions suddenly land on your doorstep. While other aspects of women's fashion tend to receive more coverage, a variety of dress suits in a woman's wardrobe is just as essential as the LBD.

Getting the Proper Fit in Women's Dress Suits

It's essential to ensure that a wardrobe staple like a dress suit fits you in the best way possible. It should never be too baggy or too tight, too long or too short. It should effortlessly skim your figure and be comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time without feeling binding or constrictive. While all women have a variety of different body types that render certain clothing suited for their figure, there are a few general ones that can make selecting your dress suit a little easier.

Best Suits for Apple Shape

navy pants suit for an apple shape

This body type is characterized by slim arms and legs in comparison to the rest of the body, which features a rounded mid-section without waist definition, full hips and thighs and also an ample bust.

  • The jacket with your dress suit should be single-breasted because it adds a more streamlined look to your full mid-section whereas double-breasted designs add bulk. Emphasize your slim arms with a jacket that is snug in this area, it's also a great idea to choose jackets with darts at the waist because it creates the definition your apple body type lacks.The length of your dress suit jacket should fall no lower than the hip area to produce a clean line from hip to thigh.
  • To balance out the distinction between your full tummy area and slim legs, you should opt for specific types of pants for your dress suit. Those with a flat front and higher rise are ideal because they create a slimming effect on your mid-section. Avoid pants with pleats, gathers or other details because they add bulk to your thighs and hips. Instead go for straight-leg, boot-cut or flared dress pants styles.
  • Another way to get the most out of a ladies dress suit for your shape is to accessorize it with a belt that defines the lack of waistline your shape is known for.
  • Pencil skirts, as well as those in an A-line or trumpet design complement your lower half and are great alternative to pants.

Suit Tips for Pear Shapes

grey long skirt suit with nipped waist jacket

A very popular body type amongst women, a pear shape is characterized by a small upper body (arms, shoulders, bust), tiny waist and a full lower half (hips, thighs, rear). The legs of this shape alternate between mid-length and short.

  • Since the waistline for this body type is the highlight, it should be shown off in jackets that are tailored and nipped in at the waist. V-neck lapels on your jacket elongate your neck and draw the eye downward. To further emphasize your small waist, choosing jackets that have a belt or whether you opt for your own, are great style details to look for.
  • The contrast between the top and bottom half of a pear shape is great, so you want to select pants that slim and lengthen your bottom half instead of adding unwanted bulk. Stay away from extra pant details like side pockets, pleats or gathers because they widen your lower half. Boot-cut and flare leg pants are best, especially when combined with a stretch fabric and a dark color.
  • To streamline and lengthen the bottom half of a pear shape, opt for knee-length pencil skirts that contain side seams for further elongation.

Choosing Suits for Hourglass Shapes

light colored skirt suit on hour glass figure

The highly envied body type that women and men seem to favor most, an hourglass figure is often described as ideal. Characterized by having an exceptionally small waist in comparison to curvy hips and thighs with a full rear and bust, inhabitants of this body type are fortunate because they can wear most anything. However, there are certain styles that standout more than others.

  • If there is one thing about this body type that should be showcased, it's the small waistline. So choose jackets that make it fabulous at all times. A single-breasted design with V-neck lapels, darts at the waist and a tailored silhouette is the best option for your figure because it accentuates the focal point, while lengthening your neckline.
  • To flatter the bottom half of your body, the pants of your dress suit should be boot-cut with a wide waist-band, flat-front design and mid-rise. Straight legs can work too, but your jacket style would have to change to something roomier for balance.
  • Given that this body type can wear most anything, your skirt choices are plentiful. However, a few standout skirt styles to cpmplement your suit include: A-line, knee-length and void of too much tapering at the sides.

Suit Styles for Rectangle Shapes

pants suit for athletic body type

Widely considered an athletic body type, a rectangle shape lacks definition and dimension, which can be created by your dress suit choice. This body type is characterized by a straight waist, lean limbs, square hips and a small bust.

  • Unlike other figures, a rectangle shape can successfully handle extra fabric or other details in clothing because it lacks curves. The jacket of your dress suit should either contain a belt or darts to offer the illusion of a waistline. Also, double-breasted details and high necklines are equally flattering.
  • To create curves of the lower half, opt for pants that are snug with a straight, tapered or cigarette leg. Details such as pleats, side pockets and gathers aid in your quest to add bulk to your lean hip, thigh and rear areas.
  • You want to create curves for this body type so opt for short, form-fitting styles, those that contain pleats or gathers and fit and flare designs that add a nice amount of volume to your lower half.

Style Elements to Consider

  • Type of suit: Suits for women can have very different styles, but they will typically either have a classic/professional look, a fashion/trendy look, or a more formal/dressy look. A classic suit will have clean tailored lines and little to no embellishment. Trendy suits may embrace more modern cuts and may be available in bolder colors or patterns. Formal or dressy types may be neutral or colored, but will typically have added details or embellishments and be made of fancier fabrics.
  • Fabric choice: Although figure flattering and impossibly stylish, many women's suits are not the most comfortable thing to wear for long periods of time. This is why it's important to select suits that have the proper fabric that's comfortable, breathable and move well with your figure. While there are several different fabrics that dress suits are made from, opt for those that contain some element of stretch because it allows the pants fit better, while also adding overall comfort.
  • Details: Some pants styles available for suits are boot-cut, straight-leg, trouser and flared. Jackets with padded and non-padded shoulders, single and double-breasted, are also important style elements that you should consider when choosing your dress suit. A-line skirts, those that flare away from the body such as a trumpet style and a classic pencil skirt are all flattering choices for your dress suit. In addition, don't be afraid to embrace color, because not all dress suits have to be in darker shades or earth tones.

Where to Shop

Whether it be for work, church or a formal occasion, there are dress suit styles to be found all over. Where you decide to shop for your suit really depends on personal preference, considering that they are so readily available. Shopping in-store, online or through catalog are a few options. Take a look at some of the highlights:

Department Stores

  • Macy's: Professional and fashion suit styles from top brands such as Le Suit, Tahari, Calvin Klein, and Jones New York
  • Bloomingdale's: A wide selection of suits and suit separates from brands such as DKNY, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Nanette Lepore, Armani, and Burberry
  • Saks Fifth Avenue: A variety of higher-end suits are available from names like Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, and Giambattista Valli are available at Saks. You'll also find a smaller selection of more moderately priced suits from Theory and Boss.
  • Nordstrom: Theory, Boss, St. John and Lafayette 148 New York are among the brands you'll see here for suits. You'll also find exclusive Nordstrom collections from some brands.
  • Dillard's has an excellent selection of two and three piece suits in top brands, making it easy to shop for matching sets.

Online Destinations

  • Express has a selection of mostly neutral suits are made with fabric blends with stretch for a flattering modern fit.
  • Shopbop: At Shopbop's workwear boutique, you'll find a great range of suit separates in designer names.

Catalogs

  • Newport News: Although Newport News (through Spiegel) doesn't offer a specific suit section, select pants and jackets can be paired to create a business or dressy look.
  • Chadwicks of Boston: Sleek and classic ready-to-wear suit styles are available from this retailer.

Complete Your Look

Once you have selected the proper suit, the next thing you need to do is make it your own. The best way to do this is accessorize in a way that reflects your personal style and where you are going. A classic black pump goes well with practically anything, women's suits included. Feel free to punctuate your suit with jewelry, oversized handbags or clutches and brightly colored fabrics to coincide with warmer seasons as well. For formal occasions, suit details like sequins and stain fabric are ideal, while a nice feminine blouse sets off a conservative business look. By getting the right fit and accessorizing properly for the occasion, you can look polished and feel confident at all times.

Ladies' Dress Suits