The Cool Girl's Guide To Buying A Suit

If you don't have a corporate job, the chances that you think of a suit as an actual wearable, necessary wardrobe item are probably pretty slim. Even if you do work in a very formal office, a suit is the last thing you think of as the “cool” thing to wear — but, the runways, red carpets, and our own editor-in-chief think otherwise. Before you roll your eyes at the idea that it's actually a realistic purchase, consider this: A suit is a complete outfit, right out of the box, which should be music to a lazy girl's ears. They also can be unexpectedly cool if you don't wear them with pumps and a button-down (as one of our editors learned during her own suit experiment earlier this year).

The first step is to think outside of the navy, gray, and black box. From bright hues and bold prints to vests, capes, and retro silhouettes, there’s a suit out there for every style, and they’re rad enough to wear both inside and outside the office. Don’t swipe your card for yet another sleepy LBD or sweater dress for fall — instead, try one of the standout suits ahead. Boss-like feelings will set in as soon as you find the one that suits your style.
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Go Retro
Take advantage of the '70s revival that's been going strong for months now — a double-breasted front, extra-large lapels, and a bit of a flare in the pant make a suit feel more like a fashion statement than a corporate mainstay. And, who says a suit has to be black or even navy? A bubblegum pink is a total power move, and any jacket with big pockets is a win in our book. Finish the look with a high-neck blouse, patent ankle boots, and a top-handle lady bag, and that promotion won't feel too far off.
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Try A Skirt
While we're all about a great pantsuit, there's something undeniably sexy and badass about a matching pencil skirt and jacket. This is the alternative for you if a trouser and blazer still feels a bit too stuffy or boxy. And if we still have to convince you to wear white after Labor Day, let this be the set that brings you over the edge. Not only do these pieces look sleek and professional together, but each piece is versatile enough to get plenty of wear on its own with your favorite jeans, tees, and other separates. When you're shopping for a suit, you only want to spend money on pieces that can be worn both together and apart.
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Relaxed Is Best
Shopping for a cool suit is all about breaking the rules. There's no need for stiff shoulder pads or super-structured trousers; Aritizia makes some pretty amazing suit separates that are loose and a bit flowy, but still professional. As long as the fabrics look polished and the fit is right, the rest of the outfit keeps things feeling put-together. It's okay to go for a more relaxed silhouette that moves away from the body rather than hugging your every curve. The most liberating lesson to learn is that your top and bottom don't have to match, either. In fact, a suit looks more modern when you embrace mixing and matching, and experiment with looser, more contemporary fits.
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Crop It
The easiest way to make a suit feel instantly cool? Crop the jacket or the pants — or both. For petite frames, it can be especially difficult to find a suit that fits properly and doesn't feel like you're drowning in boxy fabric. Cropped silhouettes are a simple solution. Instead of a traditional blazer, a shrunken military-style jacket with decorative double-breasted buttons gives a polished outfit some stylish flare. To seal the deal, a leather loafer with a funky sock peeking out pairs perfectly with the trouser that hits right above the ankle.
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Be Bold
No jacket, no problem — a vest is a funky alternative to your typical blazer, and it's perfect over button-ups, turtlenecks, and sweaters alike. In a bold metallic stripe, this set will be turning heads instead of feeling like a snooze-fest, yet it's still professional enough for board meetings and client lunches. With this ensemble, keep the rest of the outfit fairly simple and let the suit do the talking, or mix prints by throwing a floral or check print into the mix. Suits typically fall on the subdued side, but there's no reason not to play with daring, eye-catching prints to keep things interesting.
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Give Culottes A Shot
Pajama dressing littered the runways from Alexander Wang to Givenchy this past fashion week, and this soft-denim culotte suit is one way to get in on the trend. Culottes are a chic and more comfortable alternative to a classic pleated pant — breathable, flattering, and on-trend. This is a suit you'll actually want to wake up and wear, even on a Monday. If your office permits, you can even pair this one with a white or athletic sneaker for a street-style worthy office look.
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Embrace The Oversized
A suit's cool-factor increases exponentially the more oversized it gets. The key is to make sure the defining points of the suit are hitting where they should. The shoulders and waist should still fit properly, and the pant hem shouldn't pool on the ground, because the last thing you want is to look like you borrowed your dad's suit. But other than that, embrace the boxy look by avoiding any cinching or shaping on the jacket at the waist, and accept that the pant doesn't have to be tight or fitted down the leg. Because who doesn't love a little wiggle room?
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Own The Cape
There's nothing wrong with adding a little bit of next-level drama to your workday with a fashion-forward piece that will be the talk of your meetings. If suit jackets aren't your thing, an epic cape will quite literally save the day — it's definitely more daring than a blazer or even a vest, but the risk won't come without reward. A suit cape will make you feel like the superhero you are, so that you can nail that proposal or year-end presentation. This might not be your everyday go-to, but with a sleek black pump and minimal accessories, channeling your inner girl-boss comes easy in a set this cool.
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Play Up A Pinstripe
For a throwback, borrowed-from-the-boys feel, a timeless pinstripe never goes out of style, and it's that perfect happy medium between a plain navy suit and a full-on stripe like the one a few slides back. Plus, in a structured wool fabric, you'll wear this one nonstop through fall and winter. You can slick your hair back and finish it off with a red lip to keep things classic, or spice it up with a graphic rocker tee and some quirky platforms for a more unexpected look. In a suit this elegant, you're the boss, and nobody can tell you otherwise.
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Love The Longline
Tall girls especially, this look is yours to own — channel your inner Annie Hall with a masculine-inspired longline blazer and floor-grazing pant that's flattering and elongating in all the right ways. You can highlight your waist with a skinny leather belt (around the blazer, even!), or just wear it long and unbuttoned. An intricate herringbone fabric feels more dimensional than a flat gray suit, and layering a simple cashmere turtleneck underneath will make getting dressed up in the morning feel more like a no-brainer. Suits may feel intimidating, but you don't have to make styling them more complicated than it needs to be.
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