Suiting Tutorial: Ladies, Suit Up!

Wednesday is the busiest, most hectic day on the Hill.  It’s the day when the important hearings, meetings, and events happen.  It’s also the day when the most people visit the Hill.  Yes, Wednesday is the day when I look at the clock at 5:00PM and wonder where the day went and why I got nothing accomplished.

Wednesdays are when the wheels come off.  No one knows why.  Thus, Wednesdays call for your professional A-Game.  And this means that Wednesdays require a suit.

Not a sport coat and khakis.  Not a skirt and cardi.  Not flip-flops and trousers.  But an all-season wool, professional looking, traditional suit.  

So how does a woman dress up her staid, boring professional suit so that she doesn’t look bored to death with her own attire?  

If you were paying attention yesterday, you know that sequin tops are a good way to add a little pizzazz to suit.  If sequins aren’t your thing, you can try adding a colored high heel.  But these are elementary, my dear Watson, surely I have something more creative in mind?

That’s a Wrap!

Back in the 80s, before most of the interns reading this were born, women wore a lot of scarves.  As a result, the trend became a little dated.  But just because tying a scarf around your neck like a flight attendant is not recommended doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to wear a scarf or wrap. 

If you’re bored with the suit/blouse combo, you can glam things up a bit by wearing a chiffon scarf under your suit jacket as if it were a drapey blouse.  To pull off this look, you’ll need a nude microfiber camisole (you know, just in case), a wide solid or printed chiffon wrap, and a wide, fitted belt.    

Commando Cami (Saks, $48)

Silk Chiffon Wrap (Nordstrom, $58)

Stretch Belt (Ralph Lauren, $38)

Simply drape the wrap over your shoulders and then pull the bottom toward the center, tucking it into your pencil skirt or shapewear.  Layer your jacket over it, and use the wide belt to smooth the silhouette and secure the wrap in place.  Once finished, adjust the scarf to make sure that it isn’t too bulky or too sheer.

Flower Power

For those of you who have not yet discovered Emerson Made, this is your chance.  The whimsical retailer of finely crafted floral blooms has just what you need to add a dash of pretty to your boring business suit.  Simply fasten one of her many handmade blossoms to your lapel, and you’ve added a dash of fun to your blah blazer.


Emerson Made 7″ Poppy ($78)

If wearing a flower on your lapel isn’t for you, there is another option.  Simply buy a roll of ribbon to match the color of your suit (navy in this case), and cut a piece long enough to make it belt.  Secure the flower(s) of your choice to the ribbon (slightly off center) and voila. 

Pin Up Girl

Another waythat you can add some spice to your work attire is by channeling women from a bygone era: The 1940s.  A fitted skirt suit, a simple, fitted blouse, a pair of nude fishnets and some Mary Janes are all you need to mimic the Pin-Up look without looking too costumey. 

Hue Nude Fishnets (Bloomie’s, $13)

Mary Jane Booties (Foxy, $22)

If booties aren’t your thing, you can certainly select a traditional Mary Jane. I like these pumps in a neutral shade of bronze, or for a little more whimsy these colorblocked, bow pumps

Looking for some more basic solutions?  Brooches are a great way to add some sparkle to your lapel.  A loose curly updo can also help lift a suit from boring to fabulous.  And if none of this interests you, I suggest you go the Hillary Clinton route and switch to colored pantsuits.  At least, you’ll have people talking.


    leave a comment

  1. Sarah says:

    Speechless. Belle, in the words of my mother. . . “what ever “IT” is, you sure have it!”

    June 16, 2010/Reply
  2. Bree says:

    Belle – Fishnets? Have you ever done that? that seems so daring… in Congress? I’m not sure I could get away with that… Does it really look good IRL? I’d be afraid people would make dirty comments since Fishnets are usually so “sexy”.

    June 16, 2010/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    I’m talking about black fishnets, nude fishnets chosen to match your skin tone aren’t too sexy. I’ve done it a few times, usually in the Winter/Spring transition. And as long as the rest of the outfit is professional, it’s just a bit of sexy not a bucketload.

    June 17, 2010/Reply
  4. Bree says:

    Thanks for the reassurance. I’m really interested in giving the nude fishnets a shot. I feel like Miss Rhode Island, wondering if I can actually pull off the sexy flaming batons.

    June 17, 2010/Reply