It's easy to make a case for suits: They're sleek, often flattering, and show that you mean serious business (they don't call them "power" suits for nothing, after all). For many, though, it's equally as simple to make a case against them. If it's not perfectly tailored, it can look awkward, outdated, or more corporate than cool. Well, we're officially making a case for the new suit: the cool-weather version of the matching set you were wearing all summer long.
When Coco Chanel first introduced the women's suit in the 1920s, it shook things up. Women were sick and tired of wearing dresses, and the two-piece set provided an alternative that wasn't just comfortable, warm, and practical — but it was actually cute. The shoulder pads or awkward hem lines we think of today were nowhere to be found. Nor was it crafted from itchy, thick material. Instead, the Chanel look was slim-fitting, collarless, and featured luxe gold detailing. And that's probably why, nearly 100 years old, it's still just as popular today.
Somewhere along the way, though, the cool-girl suit lost its groove. What once was a staple of female empowerment and sophistication became...stuffy. Nowadays, when we consider the idea of a matching blazer and pants, our minds immediately gravitate to Hillary Clinton's rainbow pantsuit collection (we still love you, HRC), '80s yuppies wearing ill-fitting trousers with jogging sneakers, or Joan Cusack's color-blocked pieces in Working Girl. It's no surprise they have such a bad reputation.
Where has the suit's sexy side gone? Why are we so quick to forget about Nan Kempner in Yves Saint Laurent's eponymous le smoking jacket, or Bianca Jagger in her signature white, or the slim-fitting sets of André Courrèges. Why have women decided that suits are either ugly or unattainable, rather than something that could actually save your wardrobe (and make getting dressed in the morning way easier)?
It's time to reclaim your work wardrobe, reinvent your going out look, and reinvigorate your closet completely. And if you didn't think it was possible, we've found a variety of different ways to add the suit to your style repertoire. Say goodbye to shoulder pads and say hello to suits that will suit you way better.
The Statement Maker Sequins, sequins, and more sequins. The holiday season is quickly approaching, and what better way to celebrate than with a full-on sequin suit, a.k.a. a total fashion girl move. Metallics are having a moment in a major way, and not how you would expect. Instead of the glittery party dresses of your teen years, grow up your going-out looks by opting for a sparkling set — and wearing nothing underneath (just like Selena Gomez). Sure, we've seen flares everywhere these past few months, but not quite this voluminous. And since there is so much going on here, keep accessories to a minimum. A simple pair of pumps will suffice (or try white sneakers for even more badass vibes). Warning: This is not an outfit for someone who wants to blend in.
The Surprising Set When opting for an alternative take on the suit, paying close attention to both the cut and color is key. It can make all the difference between feeling (and looking) like you've just left a corporate job interview, and feeling like you're ready for any occasion the world throws your way.
To try this out: Switch out the average blazer-and-pants combo for a cape-and-miniskirt one. A fitted, cropped jacket (with a sleek, one-button front) will give a more feminine shape to a top that can otherwise feel boxy, and a matching, pleated bottom looks just as cool, especially when it has an extra-high-waist.
The All-Over Print Is Solange your style icon? If not, she should be. And this three-piece, full-on printed suit screams her name (and yours, too). Despite being completely covered in flowers, the deep purple base and more boyish cut allows those who want to rock florals (without feeling overly feminine) to do so with ease.
The thing about all-over-florals is that they easily translate for day or night: For work, layer the menswear-inspired suit over a black button-down and pair with boots (as seen here), or make a rad evening dress alternative by adding heels to the mix. It's a red carpet-worthy moment that's received everyone from Kate Beckinsale to Karolina Kurkova's seal of approval.
Plus, thanks to the matching vest, blazer, and pants, there are tons of new, inventive outfit options available at your fingertips — you can easily go full-monty and wear the pieces all together, or opt for pairing one of the items with others from your closet.
The New Monochrome When you think of your average suit, a black, navy, or pinstripe set made solely for interviews tends to come to mind. Well, the new neutral, the beloved camel color that's been dominating outerwear pieces in 2015, feels way more contemporary. It's a hue that, although it's been big this year, exudes a very '70s aura, which we just can't get enough of.
When looking for a suit of this nature, aim for a more structured set (a slight variation at the leg makes it stand out), and a tee or turtleneck easily complete the look. It's a winter work-wardrobe upgrade that's almost too simple. Plus, next time you go for that interview, you won't feel like you've stepped out of your favorite '80s movie. (Unless, of course, that's your pre-interview power move.)
The '80s Revamp Okay, so it may be easy to hate on the old-school version of the suit. But before you completely ban it from your wardrobe, consider this past-meets-present upgrade. Leave it to Donatella Versace to make your classic, neutral-colored throwback suit look cool again — thanks to a cropped jacket, super high-waisted, wide-legged pants, and colorful, blinged-out embellishments (in case you hadn't heard, the logo is back).
Since the silhouette and decoration make a statement on their own, styling a matching set like this can be easily completed with a simple T-shirt. Throw-on-and-go has seriously never looked so good.
The Chic Cocoon Find yourself obsessing over your favorite winter coat? Now imagine a matching set that incorporates the same cozy shape, texture, and feel. A cocoon jacket and coordinating miniskirt is the contemporary answer to the skirt suit of yesteryear: Its out-of-the-box, oversized silhouette (think prominent shoulders on top with a more form-fitting bottom), creative, bold stitching, super-heavy (and seasonally-appropriate) fabric, and sleek pastel hue give a modern-day update to an item that's been around forever.
The best part about a textured, monochromatic look like this is that it's easy to get creative with styling. Since the powdery gray-meets-blue color goes with pretty much anything, be daring and opt for the extra-long sleeve trend that dominated street style snaps last season. Plus, you can throw on any type of shoe (heels, sneakers, wedges), to tie things together. Now that's what we call a power move.