A Guide To Women's Suiting
A short history on women’s suiting
First championed by the suffragettes in the 1910s, the modern woman’s suit was shaped by taste makers across the course of the 20th century. From the inimitable Gabrielle Chanel to Marlene Dietrich and, of course, reaching fever pitch with Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic ‘Le Smoking’ in 1966. Since then, the suit has remained something of a fashion staple - if sitting slightly on the periphery of vogue.
Until now that is.
A Guide To Women's Suiting
In the past few years, women’s suiting has been experiencing something of a renaissance. Worn by style icons as diverse as Kamala Harris, Hailey Bieber and Zendaya, this wardrobe staple is firmly in the fashion spotlight once more.
Whether being worn in the boardroom, on the red carpet - or anywhere in between - a well-fitted suit makes for a striking fashion statement that can be worn time and time again.
How should a women’s suit fit?
It’s easy to be discouraged when shopping for women’s suiting. Fit, arguably the most important factor in a suit, can be challenging and many ready to wear options simply don’t cater to the broad spectrum of female body shapes.
Below are some easy points to look out for to ensure that your suit fits perfectly.
Unlike in men’s suiting, being able to button your jacket is not mandatory. A matter of personal preference, the jacket should look like it can be done up but doesn’t actually need to. Particularly relevant if you like a more fitted look, sizing down will ensure the jacket retains its shape when undone.
In terms of jacket length, avoid having it end at the widest point of the body - i.e. around the hips. Instead look to either have it finished as a more cropped style or below the glutes.
With the shoulders, make sure that the seam aligns with the end of your shoulders (if not slightly before). This will maintain a feminine silhouette and avoid any potential boxiness.
The fit of your trousers comes down to personal preference. Whether you like a slim, cropped look - think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; a wider, palazzo style leg; or a more traditional bootleg, corporate style, there are some universal fitting points to remember.
Regardless of how slim you like your trousers, if the fabric around the seams is puckering, they are too small. A good tailor will be able to provide guidance on how slim they can make them without this occurring.
Secondly, the shoes you wear will have a tremendous impact on where your trousers should be hemmed. If you predominantly wear heels, the hem should be longer, falling about half-way down the heel of the shoe. Alternatively, if you wear flats, the trousers should sit on the top of your foot with a small break at the front of the leg.
Notorious for erring either too tight or too loose, having your skirt tailored to your body is a valuable investment. When fitted correctly, the waist should sit snugly and not rotate around your body. Similarly, the fit through the leg should provide sufficient space to walk comfortably and not grip the underside of your glutes.
Another easy watchout with skirts is the slit. If the slit is open when you’re standing still, this is a sign that the skirt is too tight.
Gender Neutral Suiting
Particularly popular at the moment, boxier, more masculine style suits can be a great way to freshen up your take on this iconic piece.
With designers like Jacquemus focusing on looser silhouettes, these playful takes on proportion hark back to the power suits of the 1980s and early 90s that were originally seen on the runways of Armani. Much like their predecessors, these androgynous styles are as much about actual fit as they are about the way you wear them.
The greatest risk with gender neutral suiting is that it can look sack-like. Styling tricks like scrunching the sleeves up to the elbow or pairing a boxy jacket with slim trousers make for a more purposeful look.
Also consider pairing more masculine suits with contrasting tops underneath. Doing away with a button-down and replacing it with a camisole or a bandeau top (if the setting permits) is an easy way of freshening up your look and avoids it falling into frumpy territory.
Finally, androgynous styles - while boxy - still need to fit. Key measurements like the waist should be made to size. If not, you run the risk of looking like you’ve rummaged through an op shop rather than being a chic fashionista.
Skirt suits vs Pant suits
Skirt suits have dwindled in popularity since the early 2000s, with their pant suit counterparts well and truly dominating the scene. However, that’s no reason to steer clear of the former if personal taste skews you in that direction.
Entirely a matter of preference, skirt suits tend to make for a slightly more traditional, feminine look. If you prefer wearing button down shirts, a skirt can also soften the overall aesthetic, differentiating from a matchy-matchy his/hers suit look.
Pant suits, in contrast, offer slightly more versatility, easy to dress up and down as required. For example, the one suit can take you from the office, wearing flats and a silk pussy-bow blouse to an evening event with a change into statement heels and a sheer top.
Choosing the right shoes
While as recently as the 2010s suits were worn almost exclusively with either heels or flats (ballerinas or brogues), today the rule book has been thrown out the window.
Sported with everything from chunky Airforce Ones to Balenciaga Crocs - I shudder - you have real room to play when it comes to footwear selection.
This being said, for a more polished look - suitable for the office or an evening event - a pair of heels is still the way to go. However, why not add some flare by picking a pair that provides a pop of colour or even some texture to your look. Pumps in neons are having their moment on runways around the world and it’s an easy way to make your look feel contemporary and fun.
If you prefer a flat shoe, consider diversifying with something like a two-tone ballet flat - reminiscent of Chanel’s signature style. This looks sublime with a slim cropped trouser and can be worn with any number of other outfits too.
With brogues, opt for styles that have a pointed toe box. This ensures your silhouette doesn’t get dragged down by a ‘heavy’ looking shoe.
Where can you get a tailored women's suit?
While the Australian high street abounds with ready-to-wear women’s suiting options, there really is no comparison for a made-to-measure piece that is specifically constructed to flatter you and your body.
The team of expert fitters at Oscar Hunt specialise in not only crafting such suits but also in providing counsel on any suiting queries you may have.
For more information - or simply to have a chat - visit our women’s suiting page or drop into a showroom near you.