Suits for ladies on Amazon
May 15, 2024 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm a noob at pant/skirt suits for women's businesswear, and I have an offer that someone else can buy me some at Amazon. What do I get?

Note: specifically has to be Amazon, preferably not that expensive, I can get something like 2-ish tops/pants.

* Do I have to get boring colors like black? Is that best, or can I get like, pink or purple or royal or light blue? Or are all of those colors too "girly" to get respect in meetings/trainings?
* I am...quite stacked on top and need spandex in anything on top. This is usually why I avoid blazers, but if I can actually get some with spandex, maybe they won't turn me into sausage? Anyone have anything to recommend there?
* What do I do if there's a pantsuit where the pants and blazer would not be the same size? Like "the top is small and the bottom would be large" or vice versa, something where the two don't line up? Should I just buy pants and blazers separately if they don't match?
posted by jenfullmoon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
For the colour question, what industry are you in or hoping to be in?
posted by jacquilynne at 12:54 PM on May 15

Response by poster: Working for the state, training people. It's new to me so I'm not sure how people dress exactly.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:45 PM on May 15

Hillary Clinton wore her suits in every colour of the rainbow. Madeleine Albright’s red suit made it to the Smithsonian. You can be serious and wear colour.

That said - if you are buying off Amazon you should buy grey. Good colour is expensive. Grey is the most forgiving and wears well. Buy colourful shirts or scarves.

Given that you are working for the state, buy separates. Power suits are for bankers, big corporate, and political types. Try getting one blazer and one cardigan (or both cardigans), knits are more forgiving and perfectly appropriate for your environment.
posted by shock muppet at 1:55 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]

Related to color question, do you own other suits? If you do not already own other suits, then yes, "boring" colors like black, navy blue, or charcoal grey would be a good idea. The top you wear under your suit jacket can be a more fun color or pattern, though. Or, if you are not restricted to pantsuits, you could wear a purple dress under a black jacket, for example.

Regarding sizing, if you were to go shopping for a pantsuit at say Brooks Brothers, you wouldn't buy a size 10 pantsuit, you would buy suit jacket and pants separately from the same line / design so the fabrics match, so the suit jacket could be size 12 while the pants could be size 10.

What this means is that the jacket and pants do not have to be the same color - you could get a black or navy jacket and charcoal gray pants, for example.

(Personally I have found gray to be the most versatile color for suits, over black or navy)

On preview: oh yes, also consider shock muppet's suggestion of cardigans as an alternative to jackets. Look at longish buttonless cardigans.
posted by needled at 2:00 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]

What colors do you look best in or get the most compliments when you wear them?

Start there!
posted by jgirl at 2:04 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]

If you go with a true suit rather than stretchy, knit options, I highly recommend going with a brand you’ve heard of rather than the random Amazon “Random Letters” brands. Cheap-looking material and bad construction is not something that you can hide on a suit. You also want a brand that has a “suiting” or “suiting separates” category.

The Calvin Klein women’s suiting options on Amazon are not super expensive, and I think they are very well constructed for the price. If you are open to wearing skirt suits, you can do pants, skirts, and one blazer all in the same color/brand, which is kind of like two suits for the price of 1 and a half.

Tommy Hilfiger also has suits on Amazon, but their cuts don’t fit me well. I’m sure there are other department store brands. But that brings me to my next point: you probably need to try a few different brands and cuts to find something that works, especially in blazers (some collars and lengths of the jacket just look so silly on me, and what works on me doesn’t work on every body). So plan for that trying-on-and-returning process, and you’ll definitely need to at least have a budget for hemming pants if you get a pant suit. If you can find a tailor to shorten sleeves or take in a jacket waist (or pants waist if you are hippy like me), that will give you flexibility to buy something that fits you well across the bust but otherwise might be too big. Basically, the fit on suits matters way more than in less formal office clothes, and it’s unlikely you’ll find something that looks great without any alterations.

Good luck, and congratulations on the new role!
posted by alligatorpear at 2:53 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hm, I probably should have spelled out that the Dept. of Rehab is offering to buy me some work clothes, but they have to be approved purchase-wise and it has to be off Amazon for the approval/card use. I asked what happens if I need to return clothes and frankly, that sounded convoluted and a pain in the behind (I have to return them to the rehab office), so try on and send back is...not desirable. JC Penneys was the other option given if I want to shop in person, which...I dunno, may be worth it under the circumstances, I'm just not sure if online inventory matches IRL.

I do not own any suits of any kind. I have a few boring black blazers and black pants and button-down blouses/shirts for interviews already on hand. I have a lot of cardigans already since those are more my jam. I'm thinking reading this that maybe I should just get pants separately since the suits seem to not offer buying different size tops and bottoms?
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:10 PM on May 15

Corporette's most recent round up of work clothes to buy at Amazon has only pant suit and one skirt suit. which unfortunately are not sold as separate pieces (so you can't buy a 12 in pants and an 8 in jacket).

If the return process is a pain from the purchasing offer perspective, it might be better to shop in person. Or you could buy and return on your own dime and then purchase what works through the purchasing office, but that's possibly undesirable from a different perspective.
posted by crush at 3:17 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

I do not have experience with their suiting specifically but I immediately thought of Allegra K.

JC Penny is wildly variable in person these days but I think it’s definitely worth checking out in your circumstances. If you can get to a store easily enough to see what they have first, then you only need to play Amazon roulette if you have to. Would Target be a possibility as well? I’ve done plenty of pseudo online shopping there, where I make an order for in store pickup with lots of sizes and then immediately try stuff on in the store and return what does not fit/I hate in person. The things we do when places no longer offer petites in store… anyway you might be able to do something like that at JCP as well, though I haven’t personally done so.
posted by Mizu at 3:32 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I just looked and JC Penneys has diddly in person that one can buy off the website, so never mind that, I guess. Target doesn't really have much in the way of work clothes, as I have looked there before. Roulette it is!
(And now I'm going to go look on Amazon and stop writing responses so as to not annoy people further.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:39 PM on May 15

Calvin Klein suit separates (with stretch) at Amazon; I second gray (charcoal), which you can then brighten up with tops/cardigans/accessories.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:13 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

I work in an office and have found that the trick for me is a pair of black pants, like a stretchy ponte, and then two blazers. Liverpool LA is sold on Amazon has some good roomy blazers for ladies with a bust. Then you can just mix and match with a few scarves and shirts off ebay, etsy or your local thrift shop. This one is nice plaid. This one comes in a fuschia, orange and blue.

Hope that helps - work clothes can be a real hassle.
posted by Word_Salad at 4:30 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

I’m not sure if the rehab office told you you have to buy a suit but I want to echo that an actual suit is pretty uncommon for workwear these days. I work in the Fortune 5 (in a staid and boring non tech company) and I’m struggling to remember the last time I saw anybody in an actual suit.

About ten years ago I worked in a training role for state government and no one wore a suit.

If you don’t have to buy a suit, I would look at a sensible pant or trouser, a colorful blouse you like, and maybe a knit or sweater blazer (I, a fellow busty woman, have this and love it).

If you do have to buy a suit, the Calvin Klein separates above are a great place to start. Being able to buy bottoms and tops separately is critical unless you have a sample size body. Plus having some basic neutral pieces can allow you to add whatever color you like later in your wardrobe. You don’t have to wear the pieces together - if you wear the blazer with black pants or the gray pants with a sweater. it will look less formal. I also love charcoal because it tends to be more forgiving about dirt, animal hair, etc.
posted by jeoc at 4:42 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't "have" to buy a suit, it just occurred to me that someone else volunteering to buy me clothes is the only way I'd get one and maybe I should look more authoritative once in a while. That said, my pants vs. my tops just do not match with these sizes, so I think getting a suit is out of the question here after all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:53 AM on May 16

jenfullmoon, if you're limited to Amazon, I agree with the posters above who said buy gray, and separates. If you are different sizes on top vs. bottom (hi!), finding actual suits that don't also look really cheap (again, Amazon) is going to be really tough.

If you find yourself in a position where you do need to get actual suits and are able to look beyond Amazon, I highly recommend Jackets and pants are separates, so you can find your sizes. Their search functionality is excellent - you can search by sizes, colors, brands etc, which makes life much easier. Their online inventory is large, including in some harder-to-find sizes. Lastly, their prices are usually good, with tons of coupons etc to make the cost even lower. I have a Macy's credit card, which is free and gives you endless coupons, free shipping and free returns. Truly, unless you're working in law or on Wall Street, Macy's suits are the best.
posted by widdershins at 9:51 AM on May 16

One thing I would recommend is go somewhere like TJ Maxx and try on dresses and skirts and jackets from various brand names that are carried on Amazon. That way you will know what sizes work for you. For instance I used to be very reliably an 8 in Calvin Klein.

Then you go to Amazon and pick the outfits that someone else can pay for.
posted by suelac at 4:58 PM on May 16

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