Fashion

Suit up: How to wear suits and matching separates

By: Alexandra Donaldson

Ann Taylor Author: Alexandra Donaldson

Fashion

Suit up: How to wear suits and matching separates

By: Alexandra Donaldson

Since 1920, when Coco Chanel debuted the Chanel suit—a skirt and collarless jacket inspired by menswear—women have taken the suit and made it their own. In the 1960s, it was cropped and boxy; the 1970s brought wide legs and wider lapels into the mix; and the power suits of the ’80s were embraced by working women everywhere.

Women now wear the suit in many ways—deconstructed, slim-fitted, paired with sneakers and to black-tie events—and have even embraced the matching set (a top and bottom in the same fabric, print or colour) for easy and polished dressing. Versatile, practical and oh-so chic, the sartorial strength of a good suit is hard to deny. We spoke to Amanda Kraemer, style director at Loft, about the power of a good suit and how to wear the wardrobe staple this fall.

Why suit up?
“I love the versatility of a woman in a suit,” says Kraemer. We have to agree. A suit can be the foundation of a great outfit for any occasion—whether it’s work, brunch, a date or red-carpet event—and everyone from Ellen Page ( recently at the Toronto Film Festival) to Tatiana Maslany (at the 2015 Emmys) has embraced this classic look. The best part? Mixing and matching separates with your existing wardrobe gives you bang for your buck.

Tatiana Maslany at Emmys
Tatiana Maslany at the 2015 Emmys; Photo by Getty Images

Classic takes and modern matches
You can’t go wrong with a slim-fitting black suit, but the rigidity of the classic pantsuit isn’t for everyone, warns Kraemer. “If you love movement and fluidity, opt for a skirt suit,” says Kraemer. Basic black isn’t for everyone, either. This season, try embracing a different colour or even a pattern. Feeling even more adventurous? Give your suit a ’70s spin by choosing trousers with a wider leg. “A wide-leg suit has so much allure and can easily be the most dramatic ensemble in the room,” says Kraemer.

The matching set
The matching set might have first gained traction at summer hot spots such as Coachella, but don’t rule out this getup just yet. “Matching sets are your best friend on the mornings you ‘don’t have anything to wear,’ ” says Kramer. “You can look polished in no time.” Opt for details such as rich colours and simple patterns in classic cuts and minimalist silhouettes.

Dressing your set up or down
If you’re dressing down, try layering a light denim jacket, a chambray shirt or a textured sweater under your blazer, and pair the outfit with sneakers for a laid-back look. Scrunch your sleeves for an added casual touch.

When dressing up, start with a good fabric. “You can’t dress up cheap fabric,” says Kraemer. Then, add a statement item—a bold lip, your favourite chandelier earrings or a killer cocktail ring—and finish with an elongating pair of heels.

Read more:
The art of layering for fall
How to wear a turtleneck three different ways
 

Slideshow

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10 stylish suits and matching separates

Channelling Chanel

You can’t go wrong with a tweed skirt suit—Chanel made it a classic for a reason. For a girly look, wear it buttoned all the way up with patent black flats. Jacket, $70, and skirt, $40, hm.com/ca.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: H&M Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Release the hounds

Part suit, part matching set, this houndstooth outfit takes the structure of a pencil skirt and pairs it with the ease of a bomber jacket—still polished and stylish, but definitely more modern. Bomber jacket, $123, and houndstooth skirt, $90, asos.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Asos Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Red, red wine

Burgundy, marsala, wine—the colour of fall is definitely a purple-y shade of red. This suit is simple, streamlined and right on trend because of its gorgeous hue. Blazer, $134, and jacket, $72, topshop.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Topshop Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Knit together

Our favourite modern suit iteration? The knit suit! This look is tailored enough that you can get away with wearing it to work but comfortable enough that you’ll want to wear it all weekend, too. For added polish, belt it and pair with heels. Jacket, $90, and pants, $70, zara.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Zara Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Sweat it out

Matching sets aren’t just for the office. This sweat set is undoubtedly casual—but it’s also the easiest way to update your off-duty look. Wear it with sneakers for weekend brunch, or layer it over a button down with cute flats for dinner with friends. Sweat set, $145, freepeople.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Free People Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Canadian tuxedo

Denim on denim is the most casual way to embrace the matchy-matchy look. For a modern take on the Canadian tuxedo, try a flared dark-wash jean with a light chambray shirt. Chambray shirt, $88, and flare jeans, $158, anthropologie.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Anthropologie Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Print master

Bored of black and over monochrome? You’ll want to invest in a printed suit. This classic black-and-white plaid pick is statement-making without being over the top. Jacket, $110, and trousers, $60, mango.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Mango Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

In the navy

You’ll be surprised at how versatile this simple navy suit is. It will replace your basic black go-to and will pair with everything from silk blouses to chambray shirts with ease. Campbell wool blazer, $360, and Campbell wool trousers, $238, jcrew.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: J.Crew Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Shades of grey

Your suit doesn’t always have to match perfectly—but make sure the difference is noticeable enough that it doesn’t look like you accidentally grabbed the wrong jacket. This grey-flecked suit from Loft has a consistent pattern with slightly different shades of grey, making it a great alternative to your basic suit. Jacket, $128, and pants, $80, loft.com.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Loft Credits: Canadian Living

10 stylish suits and matching separates

Be bold

If you’re looking for something new, pick a suit in a bold colour. This cobalt has been on trend for several seasons. The simple silhouette ensures the colour remains the centre of attention. Wear it with a crisp white button-down for work and a slinky black camisole for play. Jacket, $240, and pants, $110, bananarepublic.ca.

By: Alexandra Donaldson Source: Banana Republic Credits: Canadian Living

 

 

 

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Suit up: How to wear suits and matching separates

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