Earlier this year, a reader sent me a photo of a U.S. Senator wearing thigh-high boots and a mini-dress, and asked if I thought she was dressed appropriately. Her contention was that the outfit was too sexy, but that wasn’t my complaint. For me, sexiness is not a woman’s primary dress code concern, it’s informality.
Last week, the Montana Legislature hosted a Saturday hearing on healthcare. All 11 men were in blazer and tie, but only two of the eight women were wearing jackets. I watched the hearing for a few minutes trying to decide why this bothered me so much. The women on the committee were equally invested, equally intelligent, and equally important, but put a woman in a casual sweater next to a man in a full suit and the contrast is damaging.
As much as we try to change or deny it, the reality is that what we wear matters. Perceptions of our intelligence, work ethic, and professionalism are shaped by our appearance. And appearance, like so many things, is relative. Your attire is judged based on those around you.
If you work in a professional field where the men are almost always in suits, I implore you: wear blazers. Wearing a blazer reinforces your professionalism and creates visual equality with male co-workers. Visual equality may not seem important, but imagine walking into a meeting and there are two women sitting at a conference table — one in a striped pink sweater and another in a blazer — who would you assume is the elected official? What if they both were?
Realizing that this is an issue, especially for women who are in mid-level or senior positions, I wanted to write a post about which pieces I consider blazer and suiting essentials. So let’s talk about building a foundation.
Basic Suiting. Nearly every woman needs a navy or black suit. If you work in the government, law or finance, you likely need both. Wear a suit every day? You also need a grey suit.
When buying a suit, choose your separates (skirt or pants) based on which you will wear more often. Many women who wear suits regularly will buy the skirt and the pants that match the blazer.
There are a handful of go-to shops for basic women’s suiting: Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Talbot’s and J.Crew. These suits are mid-priced and can be tailored to look much nicer than their price would suggest. Plus, you can often find them on sale.
For department store brands, I like Calvin Klein, T Tahari, and Preston and York. These brands all make basic suiting that can help you build up your wardrobe. They also fall into the mid-price category with both pieces costing under-$250.
Beyond Basic Suiting. If you’ve been working for a few years, you may have all your basics covered. Now what?
Check out the “Real Fashion” highlights on my Instagram page and you’ll see my daily outfits for work. A few of these include suits that are beyond basic. And where do I find them? Poshmark.
First, I visit Saks, Bloomingdale’s, or other high-end department stores to do reconnaissance. I’m looking for designers who reliably make a few suits each year — Rebecca Taylor, Milly, Max Mara, etc.. Then, I search for those designers on Poshmark in my size.
You would be shocked how many women buy a $750 suit, wear it once (maybe twice), and then put it up on Poshmark for under-$150. And I am happy to profit from their back-of-the-closet clean out.
Other than Poshmark, I shop for unique suiting at Dillard’s, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s. These kind of old-school department stores cater to the Southern church crowd, and those ladies still wear suits. So if you want color or texture or unique shapes, shop there.
Blazers. Not a suits person? Just need blazers? This is the boat that many of us are in.
The three blazers that women need are black, white, and navy. These are the three colors that I wear most often, and they go with anything. When I worked in D.C., I kept a black blazer and a white blazer in my office in case I needed to spruce up an outfit quickly. They empowered versatility.
I try to push my basics a bit by choosing blazers with cool buttons, pleated shoulders (like the blazer above), or other simple accents. It’s a way to have basic pieces that aren’t boring, but there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple.
I recommend buying blazers other than your suit blazers. The reason being that if you dry-clean a jacket often, you will find that it lightens over time and may not match your separates after several cleanings.
It’s easier to find blazers than suits. In addition to the retailers already listed, I like H&M, Zara, Modcloth, LOFT and Boden for blazers. All of these retailers carry affordable to mid-price blazers. And they offer both the basic pieces you need and the more unique pieces you want.
Plus-size? I’m impressed by how many blazers Eloquii stocks. Lots of colors and styles to choose from, so give them a look.
So where do you buy your suits and blazers? Which do you consider must-have styles and colors? And have you noticed that having more options sometimes leaves women dressed more informally than men?
For DC ladies – I’ve found some great blazers at Current Boutique. It can be hit or miss, but there are usually some gems.
Thanks for this, I couldn’t agree more with your analysis on the necessity of blazers for professional women. And, with Spring around the corner, I’d add that women working in the professions should also be more cognizant of their shoe choices. No matter how nice your pedicure is, open toed shoes -whether small peep toes or open sandals- have no place in the office. Men don’t show their feet and women shouldn’t either.
I don’t subscribe to that. As long as it is seasonable, I think a peep toe pump or even a heeled sandal can be professional. (Perhaps not in all circumstances – court, etc.)
I will note that I find platforms or really any heel over 3.5″ to be 100% unprofessional.
I think there’s a vast difference between a peep-toe pump (or a sling-back pump, either of which I think can be worn with suiting or a blazer) and a heeled sandal. To me, a heeled sandal seems appropriate for a business casual environment or a casual Friday, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing them with a suit or other professional attire.
I disagree that anything over 3.5” cannot be professional. While I do think that many platform pumps can read unprofessional or better suited for an evening out. I see nothing wrong with a 4″ pointed-toe pump. (I live in these Kate Spade ones, which are 4″ https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BPKCTHU/ref=s9_acsd_simh_hd_bw_bCKmPNb_c_x_w?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-11&pf_rd_r=JVXXQ2MV1JCF8FFERRN9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=d5e567fa-69cf-52fb-b257-4acd624382a5&pf_rd_i=11300658011)
I’m with Erin here. Showing toes can read as overly feminine; “girly” or “flirtatious” instead of professional. Personal preference, but I also don’t want to see anyone’s feet in the office, from peep toes and sandals to the guy whose socks got wet.
I used to like Theory for higher-end suits, but have found in the last few years that the quality is not what it used to be. Now I am obsessed with Reiss suits. They have sales a few times a year and the suits do go on sale, which helps with the price point.
I agree about suiting up, but I’m told it’s a lawyer thing and that other professionals and business people don’t suit up or wear blazers – neither men nor women.
I wonder what you think about wearing a leather jacket for attorney work. Not court appearances but, say, for a presentation at a conference. Here is the jacket I am asking about:
As an attorney in a mid-size firm in DC, I’d say no to the leather jacket. I would only wear a jacket like that (I own something similar) to the office on casual Friday, and then I’d strictly be wearing it as outerwear, not as a blazer alternative. I wouldn’t wear it on a regular business casual day in my office, let alone for a presentation, for which people tend to dress more formally.
Marissa tomei says:
I’m not Belle but I think this was covered in “My Cousin Vinny”
I might wear it on a day when I don’t have anything but office work, but I wouldn’t wear it on a day when I was presenting, in court, or had a big meeting. It would, in my view, be a step down from a blazer. Do if you wouldn’t wear a structured cardigan, don’t wear a leather jacket.
There was just an article in the NYT or WashPo regarding the last major finance house, Goldman Sachs, relaxing the dress code for all employees. The article basically makes the point that this new guidance is now even more confusing to the (very few) women that work there because this injects further uncertainty about how they will be perceived. Men are psyched but not so simple for women.
+1 – business casual is so nice for men: non-jeans, button down, nice shoes, sweater if they want. So much harder for women without an equivalent uniform!
I read that same article! I also read the one about how Goldman Sachs is aiming to have 50% of its analyst class this year be women, nearly double what it was last year. That said, entry level hiring equity in 2019 (!) doesn’t really even begin to make up for decades of sidelining and discrimination.
And my non-serious comment is plug the Insta account @midtownuniform on I guess what men have substituted for a blazer now?
I work for a pension investment firm in BC and this is freakishly accurate. Right down to the Chads.
The other reason I find for a suit or a blazer is because if men are wearing suits, chances are the thermostat is set quite low. Aren’t y’all cold in your sleeveless sheaths and bare legs? I adore my lined pantsuits and stay pretty warm.
I went to poshmark immediately, but they don’t have a category for suits. How do you find them? It looks like I can’t filter by size unless I pick a category? I know you aren’t poshmark customer service 🙂 but would love to know more about how to find good suits on the site.
I type in “suit” and my size into the search bar and filter by brand instead.
Your intro to this post really resonated with me. But I have a different question for you. I work in a software company. Most of the men wear dark jeans or khakis and a button down every day. What is the female equivalent? Some women dress up, but that can feel too much. I have tried on countless black pants and they either look like leggings or feel too formal.
I am moving into a more senior position and want to be taken seriously, but also want to take advantage of the tech vibes that I so love working in. How do you casually dress for success?
For me, the equivalent would be a ponte dress with flats. Probably a swingy shift. If you prefer pants, a simple blouse and a jean.
Last week I met with a startup (well ok, a large startup – 65 people or so) on the west coast. They are a technology company. Their execs were all men, actually I was the only woman at the table, but their female staff wore a lot of jumpsuits and wide leg pants with flowy tops. Maybe its a west coast thing? I liked that it did not look too formal so it met the men’s ‘button down shirt / dark jeans’ motif.
I wore dresses 2 days and a unique skirt / blouse combo one day. No jacket. Felt I blended appropriately minus maybe a little west cost flare 😉
Works for me as a woman in tech: Dark jeans, plain (no logo) t-shirt (Caslon has an elbow length ballet neck one that works great), plus casual jacket. Leather or military style can work here, or a blazer like J. Crew’s going out blazer. Pointed toe shoes with a small heel or stompy closed-toe boots if you need to crawl around in wires. Acquiesce to the vibe, but stay a step above, and make it your uniform until it feels natural.
And it can also help to be known for something just slightly quirky, but prepared to need to keep whatever it is forever. You wouldn’t believe the people who had no idea who I was after I got lasik and left the red glasses behind.
So many +1 to this and the next comment. After 10 years in tech, I agree this is definitely the way to go.
Love the advice to pay attention to the vibe put take it up a notch. Even jeans and a tee garners respect when you throw a blazer on
I work in FinTech and my cold-weather uniform is nice black skinny jeans (usually Boden, no fade or anything, just plain black), leather ankle boots, a cashmere sweater (also Boden), a blazer or an MMLaFleur wrap sweater, and nice jewelry. Sometimes I switch it up with a wool pencil skirt or a sheath / sweater dress and some classic boots.
In warm weather I wear the same black jeans, flats or heels, a silk button-down from Everlane, and nice jewelry. I sometimes alternate with a nice shell & a blazer instead of the silk button-down. It’s professional but keeps the focus on my work, not my clothes, which is a plus in the industry I’m in.
Every now and then I wear a camel leather jacket to work in place of a blazer, and this article made me feel even more ok doing that, especially since I work in tech: http://www.fortune.com/2019/02/19/leather-jacket-womens-power-outfit/ I love the quote from the female CEO of Framebridge: “I’m not going to wear a suit, and I’m not going to wear a hoodie.”
Thanks for this description, it’s very helpful. I work at a place that just ditched the dress code. The business casual was already drifting to very casual. Now that I can wear whatever I want it’s hard to figure out what to wear and strikes the right image for me.
Dark jeans or grey pants and a blouse/open cardigan. You could also wear a V-neck sweater if you add accessories you don’t normally wear.
This is more like the dress code where I work. Only a few people at the C-suite level wear suits, and not that often.
This is the bane of my existence. I work for an engineering lab that does government contracting work. On days I’m just working, I stick to jeans, black pointed flats and a nice blouse. On days I’m meeting with management, I swap out the jeans for black or navy dress pants. Then, when meeting with government sponsors I’ll go either full suit or nice dress. The guys have it so easy (same company): my husband wears either jeans or khakis and a button down. All day every day.
Preach! it’s always bothered me how female newscasters are often in sleeveless dresses while the men are all in suits. Ugh, and don’t get me started on the whole hubbub a few years ago about women needing to cover their shoulders on the House floor and in the Speaker’s Lobby. It isn’t gender equality to hold men to one standard and women to another. And as long as we’re on the subject of professional attire, let’s not forget the shoes. I’ve seen so many women in strappy sandals with their suits. I still have flashbacks to Sarah Palin’s backless platform sandals. So wrong.
Oh my god this wasn’t first thought! Men have to wear suit jacket and tie on the House floor, yet there was hubbub about women covering shoulders? It was so blown out of proportion!
I’ve actually found some good blazers at JC Penny for decent prices. I’m not in a job where I wear suits regularly, so I don’t want to spend a ton of money on suits. I have a couple blazers from JC Penny that I absolutely love and got on great sale. I’m not sure how they would stand up to super expensive suits, but I don’t think they look cheap and I’ve gotten compliments on them.
I’ve been trying to fold my blazers into my every day work wardrobe so that I a. use them more and b. feel less like I’m playing dress up. Honestly the 2 biggest perks for me is being warmer and POCKETS! At my work’s conference last year I wore blazers every day only in part to be more formal, it was mostly to have pockets while I was running around the hotel like a crazy person.
I agree with the pockets, especially the inner pocket in the blazer, which I use all the time.
Monica T says:
This is such a great post, especially for ladies like me who have never worked in a business formal or business casual office. Southern California Tech is a casual unmatched by most regions or industries! I have picked up some blazers over the years, and definitely some of the interesting ones you’ve recommended. I don’t wear them often, but I’m happy I have them in my arsenal when I need to step an outfit up for an interview or event.
A lot of ladies are pointing out shoe choices. While I don’t wear heals I am a devotee of the loafer mule and wondering if you think this style is too casual to wear in a dressed up situation? I usually wear slim ankle pants or jeans and the proportions seems to just “go”…what would be the next level up?
I love Poshmark for buying sheath dresses and weekend clothes but I hesitate to buy suits site unseen because I assume most women have their expensive suits altered in some way…am I wrong?
I am finding that so much of the suiting at Banana, Ann Taylor, J Crew contain polyester which looks so cheap, especially after a few dry cleanings! Can you please post recommendations for wool suits with lined pants that don’t cost a fortune?
I always ask for measurements in addition to sizes. If you need lined pants, you would be at Talbot’s, probably.
Mango is a pretty good source for affordable, chic looking blazers. Also I definitely agree that it projects more professionalism. Great analysis.
I’m a dress+blazer kind of woman, with an occasional suit thrown in (worked on the Hill for 8 years, in the exec branch now). My favorite suits that have held up well over the years are Banana Republic, The Limited, and Tahari.
For dresses and blazers, I LOVE Dillard’s Clearance Centers. There aren’t many of them (https://www.dillards.com/c/clearance-center-stores), but set aside a few hours and go to one. Maybe half my work wardrobe was purchased at one over the years (there’s one in my hometown I hit every Black Friday, when everything’s an additional 50% off). I’ve gotten Tahari and Calvin Klein dresses and blazers for $30 or less. I also get formal and cocktail dresses there, because they’re usually $20-$30, and I don’t feel bad if I wear it only once. It’s the kind of place where you have to dig, but it’s always worth it.
Dillards Clearance Centers are a gem! I’m lucky enough to live close to one and their sales are simply unmatched.
Any ideas for petite blazers beyond Loft? I’ve had some luck there in the past but it can be super hit or miss. Regular sized blazers are always so long on me, which is made worse by the fact that I mostly wear dresses.
I get my petite blazers from Talbots and White House black market. Usually a good selection.
I’ve had good luck at J Cree for petite blazers. You might also check out a petite blogger in addition to this great blog (eg archives from Jean of extrapetite.com)
I find that Europe and the UK in particular do suiting/formal wear SO much better than the US. I now keep a very close eye on the Fold (apologies for anyone not familiar, say goodbye to your workwear budget), Hobbs, and Reiss for sales. Brooks Brother’s red fleece line is great for washable sheath dresses and their classic blazers are always so well made (and go on super sale at the end of the season).
I love a good blazer. I have the “good fortune” of looking quite a bit younger than I am so they command more authority. Also, the AC is programmed to cater to those men in multiple layers and I would freeze otherwise.
Does anyone have recommendation for short, busty women? I have never been able to successfully buy a blazer. I’m 5’1″ and wear a 30E. I have purchased with the intention of having them altered, but taylors have always told me they will essentially need to take the whole thing apart and completely re-sew it. That’s a expensive endeavor for an item that is already usually pricey. Would it be more cost-effective to have one custom-made? I’ve tried googling this, but I can’t seem to find a good answer with so many size issues going on at once.
Bravissimo caters to D+ women and I desperately wish they carried blazers in more sizes. Their midnight blue blazer is wonderful. I’ve had a lot of luck with Kasper suits/blazers lately (36G wearing 14 or 16P in Kasper).
I’m taller than you (~5’7″), but wear a 30F so somewhat similar there, and I found good luck at Hugo Boss (not cheap, I know, but I wanted to invest in a suit for post-PhD interviews and found another blazer I loved too). I always have to have blazers tailored substantially for my narrow ribcage but with both of the jackets I got they fit perfectly without any tailoring.
Re suit recommendations, I’ve purchased all kinds of suits from all kinds of places, but the highest quality, best fitting and most stylish (while still basic) ones I’ve found are from Judith & Charles (Canadian company). I usually rely on black pieces to keep life simple. I don’t have the energy or bandwidth anymore (I have two toddlers to deal with while getting dressed) to figure out what shoes to wear with navy or what colour of tights to wear with grey.
Bar III from Macy’s has some incredible suiting separates! I just bought 6 blazers (2 black, 2 navy, 1 blush, and 1 lilac) and am so impressed. I’m 5’2, about 200 lbs. and the XL fits me perfectly – even in the shoulders! and the arms aren’t too long! Go check them out – I got them 30% off too with the current Macy’s sale
I work in a large high tech in SoCal, well in San Diego. The only time I see people (man or woman) wear suits, if they are lawyers, visiting VP and CEO or business people visiting from another country (we had Korean visitors). We have people wear shorts to work. It is that casual. The main attire is still mainly jeans. Very few dresses or skirts from women.
I have never own a suit, but I do like blazers and structured jackets and have a few of them. Mainly it look good, keep me warm, and more polished.
If your co-workers don’t wear jackets or suits, there is no reason you should. This post was geared toward women whose male counterparts wear suits, and they don’t.
I’m a lawyer who works in non-profit and public sector consulting. I wear a blazer at least three usually four and sometimes five days a week. Every time I wear a sweater or dress down, I usually unexpectedly find myself in a meeting where I wish I had dressed up, thus I do. I think agree with you, Abra. Women often sell themselves short by not dressing the part.
While I am currently allowed to wear hoodies to work and loving it, I’ll keep the blazer advice in mind for the future. Good tip!
Great blog- thank you! Last fall, I changed companies and went from wearing full business suits 50-75% of the time to now 5% suits and 95% casual. I still wear a blazer with my dark jeans though b/c I’m petite, look young, and am the only senior woman exec. I’m at least 1 foot shorter than the men. Without the blazer, some people assume I’m quite junior.
I could not agree more with you about needing to “match” what our male counterparts are wearing. I work for a member of Congress, but in the District. My male colleagues primarily wear suit/tie, (and the occasional khaki/button down when the boss is back in DC) while my female colleagues seem to think a sweater and leggings is fine. One of my coworkers often complains about not being promoted – but she neither acts nor looks like she could take a meeting with a community leader on a daily basis. I need what I’m wearing to reflect the professionalism of our office and my boss – it’s not just an attempt to match what the men are doing, but a real effort at showcasing the polish and competence of our office.
I think it’s a misnomer that wearing suits lets men set the tone. Society as a whole in America has accepted this dress code. If you want to bend it to your will with structured dresses or nice, professional clothing that isn’t suits, fine. But when women tell me they don’t want to wear suits because it gives in to the patriarchy, they need to recognize that the vast majority of people will not see them as being dressed as professionally as the men.
Hi, for Maternity suitware, check poshmark for pea in the pod/destination maternity pants and skirts. I wore a few I bought second hand and on sale at their store and they got me through. And you can always resell them on poshmark afterward. Also try one of their blazers (which don’t look maternity, but give you more room where you need it) over a jersey dress belted above the bump, or a wrap style dress, if you don’t want to buy suitware. I did that a lot during my pregnancy also. Good luck and congratulations! Lucies List is a great resource for all things pregnancy, but she also has a guide to maternity clothing.
While this is great advice for someone who IS pregnant, Monica clearly states “that strangers often assume I’m pregnant.”
I’m not well versed on apple body types but Pinterest was great for me after I had gained weight and wasn’t sure how to dress my new shape, maybe it could help you too.
I think you have to go try things on….this is not something that can be simplified for all apple types. For example, do you have a long or short torso relative to your height? How about your shoulders? You have to get someone to help you try on a bunch of stuff. I vote for Nordstrom or NM for a first look and then maybe you can find something that is more budget friendly once you get a sense of what sillouhette works for you.
Monica, I would suggest straight leg pants that fit well. Like the other comment-er suggested – try on a lot of pairs until you find one you like. And then buy a couple of pairs of those. Seriously, reliable staples go along way, because you want to wear them. The straight leg/ narrow pant will make you look longer. Flowy top and look for different shaped blazers. I hate traditional blazers. I love a topper jacket in place, or peplum jacket, or anything besides a traditional blazer. … my two centers for whatever its worth!
I just want to say THANK YOU for this post!! I frequently think women are not served by their informal outfit choices. I’m dismayed that female newscasters wear sleeveless sheath dresses while sitting next to male newscasters in full suit and tie, for example. I agree, it isn’t about sexuality. It’s about formality.
Slightly “off-topic” but what’s the opinion on trouser-legged pantsuits? Are the traditional trouser leg pants still what’s acceptable or is it acceptable to venture into the slimmer pants? I’m thinking of these in particular: https://www.jcrew.com/p/womens_category/suiting/fourseasonstretch/cameron-slim-crop-pant-in-fourseason-stretch/G8547?color_name=hthr-graphite
I think slim cut pants are totally fine. Cropped ones are a bit more casual, so I wouldn’t wear them in a very formal office.
Agreed. I think slim pants are fine, but I think cropped or above ankle pants look more casual than full length.
I couldn’t wear a suit for years after working on the Hill – I had PTSD from wearing them every day. But I have come back around and started wearing blazers, even in an office where men aren’t always wearing suits, because I find that they make me feel put together and powerful. Here is my tip: Sweater blazers. The J Crew Sophie and Margot blazers are super comfortable and look effortlessly chic. I’ve also gotten sweater blazers at Loft and Ann Taylor. They give the same vibe as a real blazer but are way more comfortable (especially if you are busty and/or have upper arms larger than you’d like) – and they are more comfortable so it’s easier to feel confident because you aren’t fidgeting. I wear one every day of the week and feel like a boss every time.
I took a long time to venture into the world of blazers and I wish I had done so earlier! I got the JCrew Going Out blazer on Black Friday last year for $80 and it is SO good. Really perfect for wearing with dresses and for classing up a separates outfit. https://www.jcrew.com/p/womens_category/blazers/open/goingout-blazer-in-stretch-twill/H2743
I’ve also bought a few blazers on Poshmark and have had great luck with them. (Thanks for keeping it real, btw, on the realities of dressing nice on a budget vs. trying to push an affiliate-linked $$ outfit!)
This is a great post. I am a lawyer in Texas, and while I have suits and blazers, I have also started wearing structured dresses with sleeves as a “suit equivalent”. I do have a “it must have sleeves” requirement because I think that showing shoulders is too casual. (Although, because I live in Texas and we have a long, hot summer, depending on what I’m doing, I will occasionally wear dresses with cap or short sleeves.) I have found some good dresses at LK Bennett and Nora Gardner.
Yes! Thank you. Could you please pass this message along to the Sunday morning talk shows and news media in general. I always feel guilty when I’m judging these women in sleeveless and short mini skirts. All the other men on the show are wearing suits and you think it’s appropriate to wear a tank top or flashy ensemble?
Whoops! I’m so sorry, Monica! I should have read more carefully. I was commenting from a haze of little sleep and a head cold. Lesson learned: no commenting without full executive functioning.
For Monica, I too am an apple. I try to find blazers that fit my shoulders, then wear them unbuttoned and wear a printed scarf in the front to make a long vertical line. Hides my belly. Sometimes I button the middle button only to bring the blazer in a bit, then the long scarf down the front makes the long line. I also find that blazers that are shorter, say to my mid-forearm when my arms are at my sides, are more flattering because they don’t hug my body all the way down.
Could not agree more. In meetings, mediations, client events, depositions, etc., I wear a collarless Hugo Boss blazer (I have black and navy) that looks great over my wardrobe of neutral dresses. I occasionally get comments about dressing more formally than peers, but as a new partner who looks young, I would prefer to look more serious and authoritative, especially in a room full of men in suits. If nothing else, helps me feel more confident and act accordingly.
Totally agree with this post.
Of course, I wrote it on the one day this week I didn’t have a jacket. Haha!
Belle, this is a bit condescending: “Other than Poshmark, I shop for unique suiting at Dillard’s, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s. These kind of old-school department stores cater to the Southern church crowd, and those ladies still wear suits.” That’s like me, a southern female who attends church, assuming that you and others in the midwest live in cowboy boots, bootcut jeans, and don’t wear any makeup. Those are also national department stores, not regional ones.
I apologize if it came off condescending. I say this as the daughter, granddaughter and niece of many “Southern Church Ladies.” I just know that’s where my relatives buy their Sunday suits.
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I came around on blazers after a specific meeting where I looked around the table and saw that every person other than me was wearing a blazer. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to incorporate them into my wardrobe, so I bought a few cheaply (from brands whose sizing I’m very familiar with) on ThredUp and Ebay to experiment. Poshmark is another good source.
Interestingly, outside of government/law, I don’t see too many women wearing suits in formal settings in DC. Even among very high-level women, I usually see brightly-colored or patterned blazers with suiting-style dresses or pants, usually topped off with a bold scarf.