Suit Me!
February 6, 2014 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Where to shop for a suit in Boston or the North Shore of Massachusetts? Challenge: Women's suit.

The last suit I bought was just after I graduated college 10 years ago. I'm thinking I need to update my suit. Things I am looking for:

1. Must be basic enough to stay in style for a long time.
2. I currently only own one suit and that's all I need as I do not work in a job that requires fancy dressing, so understanding this is key.
3. I cannot spend more than $200, and $200 is really pushing it.
4. I am short and curvy, so a place that deals well with short, curvy women would be really helpful (as in, I am the opposite of anyone who fits into Ann Taylor).
5. I am fashion illiterate and would like a place that can handle my complete lack of knowledge and, more importantly, lack of care for fashion well.
6. Brick and mortar suggestions only. Shopping online for clothing does not work out well for me.
posted by zizzle to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Two things:

For fashion staples, go to Macys. They have great sales, and if you use your card, you get extra off.

Have it tailored once you purchase it.

You can get a whole suit.

Or suit separates.

They have regular women's (have it hemmed) They also have petites, although they may be more narrow in the shoulders or across the butt and bust.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2014

I had good success at The Limited last year when suit shopping. They always have 30% off coupons.
posted by radioamy at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2014

Ann Taylor Casual Attic Barn thing what the eff is that store called. LOFT! Ann Taylor Loft. I know you said no Ann Taylor, but Loft has petites and you can mix and match jacket/pants/skirt sizes. I am not uncurvy myself and like the suit I got there.

Macy's is also a good suggestion.
posted by maryr at 1:11 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're overthinking this! Go to Macy's when they're having a suit sale. If that's too expensive for you, try Kohl's (they have short and plus sizes). Just try some stuff on. For under $200 you're not going to get a lot of personalization or attention or anything. No one at Macy's or Kohl's knows or cares how many suits you have. I've bought suit separates at The Limited and Express as well. NY&Co. has suit separates and is generally pretty good on the curvy front but their clothes feel really cheap to me. (Avoid paying label price at any of those mall stores if at all possible - sign up for their email list and watch for sales and coupons.)

But also, are you sure you need a suit? How often do you wear your current suit? Would it make more sense to just get rid of the old suit and only buy a new one if/when you ever actually need it? I'm a 35-year-old professional woman and I don't own any suits (got rid of them last time I moved). I don't need them professionally (not even for job interviews, which depends on your profession, obviously) and I don't like to wear them for personal occasions.
posted by mskyle at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

mskyle has a great point. I bought a gorgeous Tahari suit (for about $100 at Macys) when I was job hunting and I've worn it once! I forced myself. It seems almost that suits are too formal for most jobs anymore.

I interviewed with software companies and got my current job with a pair of black slacks and a striped blazer.

It seems that most suits are worn to church now. I never see them at work!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2014

I am also short and curvy, and I have luck with the Ann Taylor Petites line (but not all stores carry them)Macy's is a good suggestion, I have bought some great suit-separates there on sale.
I prefer to buy suit-separates rather than whole suits (as in the link above) as my top and bottom are different sizes, and so I can get an outfit where all the pieces fit me.

If you really don't wear suits often, and want to spend under $200, consider getting just a jacket/blazer that you can wear with dark pants/skirt. You could get a better fabric in your budget, and you only have one piece of clothing that you wear once a year, instead of 2. I have a great dark red blazer that I can wear with grey or black pants, or a knee length skirt.
posted by darsh at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

As a curvy woman I've always had the best luck on suits at Lord & Taylor. I always go to the one in the Back Bay (ie, the two times I've needed a new suit in the last 14 years for job interviews, and my size had changed too much to wear the earlier one), but I think there's one on the North Shore, too.

Things I like: Lord & Taylor seems to understand that "curvy" or "women" or "plus" does not automatically mean that we want some horizontal stripes or animal prints or other flair. Everything is classy, classic, and the staff were nice. I think I lucked on to sales both times, too, but it's worth going there even if there isn't one on, just to see.

This from someone who usually shops at far more plebeian shops, just FYI.
posted by ldthomps at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2014

"Suit" may not have been the best word.

I am looking for something that is:

*job interview appropriate
*formal work event appropriate

I would wear it 2-3 times/year for those reasons. I can't say if other reasons would come up, but you never know.

All I do know is my most formal professional attire is sadly out of date. That Tahari suit ruthless bunny linked to is hitting the mark for me, but separates are fine as well.
posted by zizzle at 1:30 PM on February 6, 2014

I have to wear suits often, and I gotta say the very, very best advice for good-looking formal wear is to get it tailored after you get it. Buying separates and mixing and matching is also key, if you're like me and you need a different size on top than on bottom.

I think from your description that we have similar bodies, so I'll go ahead and give you my personal recommendation: Banana Republic. I am forever obsessed with the suit I got there (great pockets, great cut, great color, great fit, different size bottom from top, forgiving fabric). It's maybe a little bit on the pricier end compared to a department store (but still only like $150, if I remember right, although with recommended tailoring it would put you at $200), but really, really worth it, in my opinion.

If you wanted to spend your budget on more options, including things that aren't strictly suits, then you might be better off going to Kohls or a place like that.

Good luck!
posted by likeatoaster at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing Macy's. Last time I had to buy a suit, I checked out all the usual brick-and-mortar suspects (Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, etc.) and Macy's had by far the best selection and prices. They have some crazy great sales.

I somewhat agree with the advice to wait until you need a suit, but running out the night before an interview to find a passable suit can be a nightmare, so if you know you'll need one in the next six months it doesn't hurt to look now.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:06 PM on February 6, 2014

Suit vs. no suit during an interview is highly field specific. So do what most of your colleagues do. What works for a creative startup or graphic design firm could be anathema in finance, education, or law.
posted by Miko at 2:21 PM on February 6, 2014

I am short, plump and curvy. I got an Ann Taylor Petites suit jacket, but the regular pants fit much better than the petite ones -- despite the length being right. Pants are easy to get hemmed; jackets much harder. So nthing Ann Taylor.
posted by Lescha at 2:34 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am short and curvy as well, and had great luck with the Ann Taylor petite skirt suits. I was able to buy one off the rack with minimal alteration (just shortened the sleeves). Are you open to skirt suits? I think for formal clothing, skirts work better than pants if you are short and have a butt. I can barely ever get pants to fit right, but skirts are a safe bet. I personally prefer having a suit for job interviews than wearing whatever, because I *know* that it will match and look professional no matter what.
posted by permiechickie at 3:58 PM on February 6, 2014

Just as a warning...if you get a suit tailored, get someone good. Department stores probably have tailors in-house. Don't go to the cheap place around the corner.
posted by radioamy at 5:00 PM on February 6, 2014

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