Pant Suits: Back and Better Than Ever

For those of us old enough to remember the 1980’s, the words “pant suit” induce a reflexive shudder.  The following words described this androgynous get-up:  Boxy, Manly, Conservative, Stiff, Predictable, Enveloping.

And while powerful women like Hilary Clinton sported a pant suit through the 90’s into the new millennium, fashionistas shied away unless forced to adhere to strict HR policies.  Magazines and designers seemed to feature everything BUT the pant suit– until now.

Challenge:  How do you make a pant suit powerful yet stylish and feminine?

Solution:  Ensure the proper fit and add an unexpected element that reflects your personal style.  (Guys, you have your own set of rules, contact me for more information.)

Fit is essential in a modern pant suit.  Hour-glass girls should show off their figures with a slim fitting waistline.  If you want to draw attention away from your mid-section, focus on stiffer materials that create vertical lines from your underarms to your hip.  Small chested, long-necked women can do a high collar, but low v-neck styles look best on most body types.

Petite women (or women with long torsos/short legs) should avoid long jackets that weigh them down.  Designers aren’t packing shoulder pads like they did in the day, but for those with small or sloping shoulders, small shoulder pad inserts can add lift and create a nice balance with your hips.  Save your oversized “Boyfriend” look for your T-shirt and jeans.   Unless you’ve got Cameron Diaz legs, hem suit pants according to the typical heel height you’ll wear with that suit. A 1/4 inch from the floor will lengthen your leg nicely.

Overall, be sure you’re comfortable standing or sitting.  Budget alterations into your purchase– rarely (if ever) will a pant suit fit you like a glove.

Now, for the fun part– adding in your personal, modern style!  As you can see from the photo above featuring a new Armani pant suit, designers are reaching beyond traditional boundaries.  Black, brown and gray will always be standards, but how about that crimson hue?  Camel is hotter than the Mohave right now and is very flexible from Fall through Spring. Michelle Obama is known for her bright colors and embellished this celery wide-legged suit with an eye-catching belt.

The more feminine lapels or lack thereof are really exciting. A wrap look is super as is the puff-capped sleeves that give a feminine twist to this Nanette LaPore jacket.  Choose a printed or gem-colored silk blouse for extra zing (high shine looks best on those under 50) or create volume and texture with a strategically tied scarf or sophisticated gold chain necklace.

Have a shoe fetish?  Pant suits are your friend!  Take that pair of statement shoes and jazz up that suit (assuming it’s appropriate for your corporate culture).

Add those personal touches and you’ll be the center of attention at your next business meeting or lunch at the Club.

For a personal styling consultation, contact Thea Wood at 512.217.9869 or

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