Ask Belle: Suiting for Under-$250
Dec 4, 2013
My husband and I recently relocated to Chicago for his job and I need to start looking for work. I work as a corporate accountant, and would like to find two or three suits to wear on job interviews. Maybe a black one and a navy one, what do you think? And where do you buy your suits? I need to pay around $250 for each of the three.
Hope you can help me! Angie
Regardless of the industry you work in, I think every woman should have at least one suit hanging in her closet. Who knows? You might wind up accused of a crime you didn’t commit and need a suit for court. (Okay, probably not. But it’s good to be prepared.) Here are a few suggestions in your price range:
Calvin Klein. All three of the suits above come from Calvin Klein. Right now, CK is one of the few labels making affordable suiting that is good quality and not completely boring. You can find these on their website, along with several others, or you can find different styles at major department stores.
I would wear the basic black suit to a first interview to gauge the corporate clothing culture. Is it staid? Is it funky? Is it casual? Then, I would supplement with the more interesting suits as needed for future interviews. I also like this purple (burgundy?) pantsuit. Need both pieces for under-$100? Try this skirt suit.
Tahari makes several sub-brands that fall into your price point. I like this pinstriped charcoal-grey Tahari skirt suit. This leather trimmed tweed suit is also a good choice. And if you’re looking for a basic black pantsuit, try this one. The fabric is not the best quality, but it they are solid suits, though you absolutely.will.need to have them tailored to make them look their best.
Ann Taylor. Basic suits at good prices can be had during one of Ann Taylor’s regular sales. The store also carries petite and tall sizes. So if you need a solid-color, conservative suit in a flash, try Ann Taylor first.
Sale Brands. There are several suit brands that I would also look for when they are on sale. One is Classiques Entier from Nordstrom (they also have lovely dresses, like this v-neck ponte dress.) Another is Nanette Lepore. Marc Jacobs also makes nice suit. Kay Unger is another brand to watch, but make sure that you select a suit made for day and not one of the many suits she makes for evening–no shine, no sequins. And I’m always on the hunt for discounter Rebecca Taylor suits and jackets.
Also, don’t miss J.Crew when the sales start. I own a handful of J.Crew suits and while the quality isn’t as good as it once was, it’s still a good suit for the money when it is on sale. They also sell suits through their Factory outlet store.
Lastly, consignment stores, second-hand stores and the like for good suiting at reasonable prices. Many women buy a nice suit for job interviews and don’t keep it after, so you can find really nice suits at a discount if you don’t mind them being lightly worn. And I am a long time advocate of eBay for suiting, I’ve purchased most of my business suits on eBay, because it allows me to buy better quality suits for less. Just try the brands on in the store, so you have an idea of sizing, and then make the rounds looking for the designers you like.
If you have suggestions for suiting, please leave them in the comments. I’d especially appreciate any comments from petite, plus-size or tall women about where to shop.
P.S. If you love suits, I fell hard for this white Albert Nipon suit with an obi belt. Great for summer.