Professional Wednesdays: Business Suits Under-$250

Aug 17, 2016

For most American workplaces, the dress code is loosening.  Hoodies and jeans in Palo Alto.  Shorts and polos in Maryland.  Leggings seemingly everywhere.  Yet, for lawyers, Hill staffers, and members of other white collar professions, the business suit is still a requirement (at least most of the time).  And if you’re frugally minded or just coming up in the world, finding affordable suits can be a real challenge.

While I may dream of a wardrobe filled with Hugo Boss, that’s just not practical.  So here are a few suits (both neutral and bold) in the under-$250 range that are definitely worth a look.  Some have skirts, others have pants, and a few come in tall, plus, and petite sizes.

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Tahari ASL Stand Collar, Tie Waist Skirt Suit ($99)

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J.Crew Factory Lightweight Wool Blazer and Skirt/Pants ($112 and $58/$64)

J.crew Factory is also available in petite sizes.

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Preston & York Danica Crepe Skirt and Jacket ($59 and $99)

Let’s be real: That skirt needs a hem like Donald Trump needs to lay off the self-tanner.  But with that minor alteration accomplished, stellar.

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The Limited One Button Luxe Jacket and Skirt ($119 and $59)

These new “luxe” suits from The Limited feel nice to the touch and have great style.  They offer different styles of jackets, skirts and pants.  As a bonus, they’re also available in petite and tall sizes.

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R&K Originals Jacquard Skirt Suit ($72)

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T Tahari Carina Suit Jacket and Skirt/Pants ($98 and $68/$78)

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Anne Klein Tropical Wool Suiting Jacket and Skirt/Pants ($59 and $31/$34)

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Le Suit Textured Tweed Suit ($179)

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Sejour Pinstripe V-neck Suit Jacket and Pants ($149 and $99)

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  1. Elsa says:

    I have found it is simply not worth it to spend a lot of money on suits. I also don’t understand why women continue to wear skirt suits- to me they feel and look uncomfortable and set us even further apart from men. I have a friend at work who always looks very put together and stylish. When I asked her where she shops, she said H&M! I have another friend who gets nice pieces from Uniqlo as well.

    • Belle says:

      I love skirt suits the best. First, if you gain weight, a skirt is way more forgiving. Second, you’re a woman; why not embrace your femininity rather than wearing a pant suit to dress more like a man?

    • Kelsey says:

      I have to agree with Belle and Anne. I find skirt suits more flattering on my figure, and way more comfortable. Also, it’s my little way of rebelling. First judges told us we had to wear skirts, now consensus tells us we should wear pants to “fit in” or for modesty’s sake. I say I’ll wear whatever I want, within “business wear” boundaries, thank you very much.

    • Amy says:

      90% of my workwear wardrobe is professional dresses, skirts and skirt suits. I find them to be far more comfortable than pants. It’s a personal preference. Some women in my office only wear pants. I completely understand that, too. It’s a personal preference. With a little effort, you can look put together at any price point and find workwear that makes you comfortable.

  2. Feminine Mystique? says:

    This is disappointing. I agree with Belle that skirts are more forgiving if you gain weight. I take issue with the idea that skirts automatically denote femininity and that pants would be worn by today’s women in an attempt to look like a man. I wear pants for a variety of reasons including: not having time to shave my legs, the comfort of s particular cut or material, an interesting color or pattern etc. I don’t wear pants to look like a man. I wear pants because it’s not the 1940s…everyone wears pants, not just guys. My femininity, if I even wanted to communicate such a thing about myself, is not supported or detracted from by my choice to wear a skirt or pants. Femininity is also a bit of an outmoded concept, at least in my opinion. I am a woman and I am such regardless of my choice of pants or a skirt. I can communicate ideas of femininity with things other than a skirt, such as jewelry, soft colors etc. Why anyone would want to adhere to an idea of what is feminine and what is not is beyond me, but as long as we all choose something we find visually and practically appealing in our own right, adhering to the individuals taste and functional needs, who cares?

    • Belle says:

      I was responding more to her comment that skirts “set us apart” from men. But your point is well taken. Wear whatever you want. I like skirts, others like pants. How we dress for work should be about us, not about looking like or looking different than men.

      • Feminine Mystique? says:

        Thank you for the additional clarification Belle. I agree and should have stated that the original commenter was off-base. We certainly don’t wear pants just to blend in with men.

  3. SarahT says:

    What’s the verdict on dress suits? I think the dress + jacket combo looks great.

    • Allison says:

      I love dress suits. I like not having to deal with the top under the suit jacket. So many shells looks too unsubstantial when you take off the jacket, or you melt and deal with weird collar issues with a button down with a jacket over it. Dress suits FTW.

    • b says:

      I’m an “inbetweener” size (14-16) and find this to be my most successful combination. I have a loooong torso find tucking + having things sit and stay aligned correctly all day is just a constant battle. I don’t even think about it when I wear a dress.

  4. Heidi says:

    when you have the closet of mostly Boss suits you start dreaming about Armani … 😉

  5. Kay says:

    My closet is full of neutral colors and I would have never thought I’d ever say I like a pink suit, but I really like the raspberry tie waist suit!

  6. j says:

    Kay – I read once that to stand out a conference/networking event, to wear a bright colored or major patterned top/suit jacket. People will say “Oh, you should go talk to the woman in bright pink/navy ikat/etc” (b/c who can remember anyone’s name after a few hours at one of these things?!) That said, the bravest I have gone myself is a pink skirt to pair with black blazer.

    Belle – thanks for this post! I would also get a lot out of a post about how to style a suit: now that I invested the $$, how do I mix it up with accessories and tops underneath that it doesn’t look feel like a uniform to me.

  7. DP says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter! Just wanted to say I love the new blog, and have loved this and other new features. Very excited for what’s to come!

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