Convey professionalism and competence with a crisp, well-fitted business suit.

Things You'll Need


Select a suit color and pattern. Black, navy and gray are all classic tones. If you opt for a patterned suit, check that the patterns line up at the seams of the shoulders and lapels.

Choose a suit fabric. High-quality worsted wool is seasonally versatile; avoid blends with too much polyester.

Crumple the fabric to see if it bounces back instead of remaining wrinkled.

Pick a jacket style. The single-breasted suit is classic, but there are also double-breasted suits, as well as those that button to the collar (Coco Chanel epitomizes this style).

Determine your preferred jacket length. Pockets can be besom (slit), flap or patch; besom pockets are formal, while patch pockets provide a casual look.

Decide between a skirt and pants, or buy both. The traditional skirt suit is appropriate in highly formal business settings, but the relaxed pantsuit is sometimes acceptable. It might be practical to buy a three-piece set: jacket, skirt and pants.

Select your pants style. Pleats make pants dressy and provide room to move around, while flat-front pants are slimming. Cuffed legs are formal and add weight to the suit; uncuffed pants elongate the leg.

Test for jacket fit. Make sure the collar lies flat against the back of your neck. Shoulders should be lightly padded and neither too boxy nor sloped. Sleeves should reveal 1/4 to 1/2 inch of dress cuff or fall 5 inches above the tip of your thumb.

Make sure the skirt or pants fit. You should be able to slide two fingers under the waistline and pull about 1 inch of excess fabric at the hip. Skirts should fall straight. Back, not side zippers help a skirt to fall more smoothly. Pay attention to the crotch area for pants, making sure it lies perfectly flat against your body.

Tips

  • Consider your body shape and the silhouette you would like to achieve with the suit.

  • Women with straight, angular bodies might prefer suits with straight lines. Search for longer jackets that have sharp lapels and are not too cinched at the waist.

  • Women with curvy bodies should wear suits with rounded lines: a fitted waist, shorter jacket, curved lapel and skirt with rounded bottom.