Discuss: Can the Colored Suit be Revived?

Jun 10, 2015

When I competed in high school speech and debate, I always wore a lipstick-red business suit on the final day of competition.  It was bold. It was confident. It said, “I will take your poorly constructed argument and run it through a wood chipper.”

I loved that suit.  I still own it for sentimental reasons.  But thanks to my affinity for donuts and the inevitable mid-20s metabolism crash, I couldn’t fit that skirt over my right thigh.

This leads me to today’s question, can the colored suit ever be revived?  Or is it a trend that’s just too pageant girl, 90s TV-anchor reminiscent to make a comeback?

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Le Suit Notch Jacket Suit ($89)

Call me crazy, but I think this suit could work.  I also like the look of this soft pink suit from Tahari ASL.  This pale blue suit is pretty.  And I’m a big fan of this abstract dot-print suit.

Maybe it’s my glass of rose talking or law school has warped my brain, but stay with me for a minute.  With the right tailoring, understated accessories, and simple makeup, maybe these suits could work.  Not for every day or for a very serious meeting, but just to change it up once in a while.

What do you ladies think?

Discussions

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  1. AttiredAttorney says:

    I think I look pretty fabulous in red, and I love the idea in theory of a solid red power suit. However, it seems most colored suits these days are made by lower end manufacturers, which ups the old lady/grandma look that colored suits veer towards these days anyway. If Banana or Hugo Boss tried the colored suit thing, I would probably bite!

  2. Kay says:

    I think it depends on your work environment. Did you ever wear colored suits in DC?

  3. Jennifer says:

    If I wore a suit everyday, I could see it working to mix it up. As in, the fantasy world where my closet is full of multiple neutral suits in different fabric weights, texture, cut, etc, and still feels boring to get dressed in the morning.
    In the real world, I probably wear a suit 3x a year, so owning more than one is silly.

  4. Kelly says:

    I would probably buy the suit and split it up. Bright jacket with neutral skirt. Bright Skirt with neutral jacket.

  5. Lexi says:

    I like it the idea of mixing things up, and especially using the colored suit for some speaking engagements where you want to stand out.

    Attired Attorney makes a good point about tailoring, most of the modern looking examples use a very slim cut that is unlikely to be flattering on a lot of women and most of the manufacturers of colored suits have frumpy designs.

    This teal suit is great: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/business-suit-women/
    https://www.evoke.ie/style/power-suit-purcell-model-roz-to-launch-new-range-of-womens-suits-after-wowing-on-the-red-carpet/
    https://www.express.com/clothing/power+suit/sec/cat1920079

  6. DC Attorney says:

    I recently purchased a pale pink suit. I don’t wear it as regularly as my other, more traditional suits and dresses, but it is nice to have that option. It’s also a nice way to transition into the spring and summer months, while maintaining a professional look.

  7. AR says:

    I’ve seen several classy older women wear suits in a variety of different colors. Being 23, however, I feel the obligation to look *serious* in a way that only black, navy, and gray can achieve. Though, being in law school as well, I understand the deep desire to mix it up even a little.

  8. Anne says:

    I love the idea of a colored suit, especially in a bold, primary color (red or blue, I’m having a hard time envisioning a yellow suit working). Maybe it’s all the articles I’ve been reading lately about “power dressing”, but I think a colored suit conveys confidence and ambition. Of course, this all comes with one big asterisk, the suit must be well made (high quality fabric) and well tailored (don’t get me started on that time I saw a woman in a pencil skirt so ill-fitting on her petite frame that it almost grazed the ankles…and was worn with sneakers…). I grew up in the small hometown of one of our nation’s most powerful legislators. His wife always wore the most beautiful dupioni suits in stunning gemstone colors. As I reach the point in my career where I am able to begin power dressing, I always try to channel the wife of this (former) legislator.

  9. Angie says:

    I think it’s all about the cut and tailoring, and styling (i.e., avoiding the stiff updo and overdone makeup that signals “TV anchor!”)

    If the cut and details are too conventional, I feel like I risk looking like a politician running for office (or maybe I’ve just seen too many women in DC wearing the obvious bright red or bright blue skirt suit depending on party affiliation). I also remember my mom’s magenta pantsuit from the early 90s, which was fabulous at the time but I’ve tried it on now and the shoulder pads alone make it look like a costume. The brightly colored suits that catch my eye have interesting details: a tuxedo collar on a jacket, a peplum hem on the back of a jacket or skirt, a waist-cinching belt.

  10. Mags says:

    I would wear them as separates with other colors- like the jacket over a black or navy shift, and the skirt with a black or white tuxedo blazer. I wouldn’t go with all one color unless I was on tv or running for office.

  11. Kathy says:

    I have that blush suit – I get a minimum of six compliments a day when I wear it (which is not often in DC, but that may be the impact). It’s a nice option when it’s 95 degrees and percent humidity and you still have to look professional.

  12. Meg says:

    I have a red linen blend skirt suit that always gets loads of compliments–people are pleasantly surprised to see a colored suit. Pencil skirt, nothing special, but the jacket is collarless, 5/8 notch sleeves that can be cuffed to just above the elbow, or left down. It’s Le Suit, I got it at Filene’s a few years back. The jacket kept it from being too old for me in my mid 20s, and I think also from being too 90s TV anchor. Viva color!

  13. Annie says:

    I am pro colored suit. The catch is the modernity of the cut, quality of the fabric, and the wearer’s confidence. Think Diane Lockhart. I am slowly working colored suits in to my courtroom wardrobe. The nature of my practice is that I have credibility being different than corporate counsel and the colored, but professional suit is a visual reminder to both the judge and the jury of that difference. I started with a dark berry suit (https://commandress.com/professional-smart-chic-hugo-boss-berry-melange-suiting-jolia-jacket-venina-skirt-dalana-dress-nordstrom-anniversary-sale/) and a blue/black tweedish suit. I am on the hunt for an appropriate classic red suit.

  14. Brandi says:

    I have several red suits that I wear to depositions and/or court if it’s a settlement conference. I can’t wear just black or grey all the time that way too boring.

    I also have several pink suits that I’ve never quite wanted to wear as a suit, because I thought it would come of too girly. But I do wear the pieces as separates with a neutral color for presenting and depositions.

    I’ve been searching for years for the right white suit for me. I think it would be perfect for summer and I would wear it everywhere.

  15. Rhys says:

    I’m in my mid-thirties, and while my job doesn’t often require me to wear a suit, my volunteer activities do. (I live and work in Austin – we’re a notoriously laid-back town, even in the professional class). I like a good colored suit, but will admit that I dislike colored pant suits. Something about red pants that screams middle-aged middle management in 1990, I don’t know. But a skirt suit? Absolutely! My requirements are that it has very slight shoulder pads, if any, and that it be a color that can transcend season (those “summer” reds don’t do it for me). I spend a lot of time haunting suit sales for the right colored suit, just to keep from the rut of gray, black, navy, wash and repeat.

  16. raah says:

    it usually screams old church lady to me but I can get with the matching dress/blazer combo in brights or paler/muted color suits

  17. Cat says:

    I bought a teal blue suit from Lafayette 148. I’ve worn it to appear before a judge who wears lots of color herself, in depositions in the South, and to women’s bar events.

  18. Leigh says:

    Maybe it’s the Southerner in me, but I am all for brightly colored suits. As long as the cut is modern, I love it.

    I don’t have very many occasions to wear a suit, but I do have a few bright pencil skirts that I love for work.

  19. Sabrina says:

    My boss, our general counsel, pulls these off well. She’s late 40s and very regal looking– she’s above average height and wears 3-4 inch heels, she’s slim but substantial, and wears her hair up/back most of the time (usually some type of braids- she’s African-American). It works on her. She has red suits, lime green short sleeve, various metallic items. They’re all skirt suits, which she loves and I can’t stand wearing. They’re all very dressy– I rarely have a reason to get quite that dressed up. I’ll let her be the bright one and I’ll stick with my black and gray ensembles.

  20. Leila says:

    Being a TV anchor, I’m split on this! I love color and hate how since moving to the Northeast, I can’t wear as much as I’d like. Additionally, I find that jackets are still the most flattering piece on TV and for camera, and do convey a professionalism sheath dresses just don’t. People aren’t distracted by jackets; the wearer feels like she can breathe and focus on her presentation and job rather than what she’s wearing.

    Unfortunately, the style now is dresses, often sheath, that are at many times unflattering. And they aren’t as professional, to me, as a jacket. But that’s not the style in TV anymore and we all have to be dolled up more now. Classic TV– the industry is a tad outdated still, and prints are no-nos, and I can’t find a boss who appreciated ombre hair or a good lob haircut.

    sigh.

  21. Elyse says:

    I love colored suits but I love color in general.

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