Suitable Separates to Create Suited Looks without a Suit

suited looksSuits at work seem to be going the way of the dinosaur.  Instead of wearing traditional suits, women are choosing separates to created suited looks.  The end result is the same despite the execution being different.

Dressing this way is a lot more creative.  It can also seem a lot trickier to pull together.  I frequently hear women lamenting for a time when all they had to do was think about what tops to layer under their plethora of suits.  Now it’s about sportswear and creating looks using several components to created suited looks as opposed to just wearing suits.  When you look at it that way, it’s easy to understand why most women are frustrated.  It’s the same look with what seems to be double the effort.

Suitable Separates to Create Suited Looks without a Suit

However, if you break it down, it’s really not that hard to create suited looks using separate pieces.  In fact, you won’t even have to abandon your suits to pull it off.  Grab my hand and allow me to take you through some ideas to get you started.

Look #1

suited looks

To create suited looks using separates, start shopping for jackets and blazers that have novelty to them.  They don’t have to be eccentric or crazy, just interesting enough to stand alone.  The easiest way to make these separate jackets work, while also getting use out of the suits hanging in your closet, is to pair these jackets with the components of your suiting, like your pants, skirts and dresses.

Alternatively, you can also start shopping for separate tailored pieces to wear with your jackets.  I styled this BOSS Hugo Boss blazer with my one of my favorite tailored pants, the Franca pants from Akris Punto.  I finished the look with a red top from LK. Bennett, grey block heel pumps from Sarto by Franco Sarto, a black tote from Madewell and Margo Morrison pearl collar necklace.

From this outfit you can see why women are gravitating toward suited looks for traditional suiting looks.  The sportswear component is a lot more interesting looking and women have a greater ability to stand out while fitting in at the same time.

Look #2

suited looks

Suits will never die completely, and there are some people saying the pantsuit is making a comeback.  So instead of seeing suited separates as a burden, see them as a wardrobe enhancer.  By purchasing one separate jacket, you can use it to build wardrobe capsules and to get even more from the suits you already own.  Imagine traveling with one suit and one separate jacket.  That’s two looks created through the addition of one jacket.

A smart way to do this is buy jackets that complement the suiting pieces in your closet.  Seeing that most suits are neutral in color, this shouldn’t be that difficult.   You don’t have to limit yourself to purchasing novelty or colorful jackets, but when you do buy separate neutral blazers make sure you purchase them in fabrications that don’t match too closely to your the suiting fabrics.  You don’t want it make it appear like you are forcing a suiting look.

I styled this Reiss sheath with a purple herringbone blazer from Banana Republic.  I finished the look with a pair of nude pumps from Sam Edelman, navy bag from Tory Burch and long link necklace from Karine Sultan.

Look #3

suited looks

Creating suited looks does not mean you have to ditch all your suit jackets.  By purchasing some separates that work with these jackets, you can create these looks without sacrificing your suits.  I paired this basic jacket from Theory with a black and cream tweed skirt from L.K. Bennett.  Underneath the jacket, I layered a basic v-neck top from Reiss and finished the look with the same Madewell tote I used in the first look, black pumps from Louise et Cie and gold chain link necklace from Ann Taylor.

Creating suited looks using professional separates doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems and you don’t have ditch your suits to do it.  You just have to think about using the differently.

Start with some jackets

To get started, check out these additional jacket styles you can add to your wardrobe and pair with your suit pieces.

  • Isi Flaschengeist

    Thank you for this overview, Bridgette! Being in a very informal field of work (academia, which has its own dresscode), I love suited looks with separates because they are far more versatile. Also, I mostly need to look “suited-up” for presentations, and then I like to look more interesting than the typical suit (interesting details on the jacket, prints and colours etc.). I have one question, however, which maybe you could do a piece about: I really struggle with finding jackets that work with both pants and skirts/dresses. I have a very pronounced A shape, with wide hips and even wider thighs, so I like having jackets end on the high hip for pants but prefer shorter jackets for dresses to highlight my waist. I really like the look of a dress with a jacket – it’s somehow both professional and not too formal or “stuffy” (also, easy to move around in, not like crisp blouses). Do I need a separate wardrobe of blazers for each use? Or are there jackets that work for both? I’d love to hear your thoughts!