Sunday, September 18, 2005

What suits you?

I received lots of requests to write an article about suits. It is recruiting season again, so I will talk about interview suits specifically in the article.

You need to look "put together" in an interview, so forget about the idea of wearing a black jacket and a pair of navy pants. The suit has to be one set with the same style and same material. There are so many kinds of black and different material shows different grades of black, therefore, going to one vendor and buying the same batch of suits will save you time to match the colors.

A good suit has to satisfy the following requirements:

1. General rules

Choose conservative colors such as navy or black. Black is my favorite as it looks sophisticated and the separates are easy to match. You should avoid wearing light color suits to interviews. Light weight wool or wool blend is the most versatile material. Polyester and Lycra are normally used with wool to help the suit stay in shape and fit you better. Check for wrinkling before you make the purchase: clutch a handful of the material from the sleeves or pants and release it. There shouldn't be any wrinkles left.

2. Suit jacket

  • The shoulders must be structured but not over-padded. There shouldn't be much room left in the shoulders when you wear a button down shirt underneath.
  • The armholes should be the right size for your arms. They shouldn't be too baggy or too tight. Raise your hands to see if the back gives you sufficient room to move freely and stay comfortable.
  • The hem normally falls to the bottom of the hips. The jacket of a pant suit is normally longer than the jacket of a skirt suit, but make sure the jacket is not too long to look overwhelming on you.
  • The sleeves should fall at the base of your thumbs.
  • There should be some room left at the hips and waist so that the jacket will remain smooth when you sit down.

3. Suit pants

  • Fit. The pants shouldn't be too baggy or too tight. It's normally too tight at the hips if you see crease around that area. Check your rear and you shouldn’t see extra material hanging under hips. Sit down and make sure you feel comfortable.
  • Length. The hem should cover most of the heels without touching the floor.
  • Details. The lining of the pockets should be seamed smoothly. The tailor can take out the side pockets for you if you need extra room there and the hips will look smoother after the pockets are removed.

4. Suit skirt

  • Fit. Fit through hips but not too tight. Avoid a "sexy" look.
  • Shape. Straight skirts look more professional than an A line skirt.
  • Length. The hem should fall to the knee or slightly below the knee.

J Crew is a popular store to buy suits. Their "Super 110" suits are of good quality and conservative enough to pass any dress code test in an investment bank. I also heard very nice feedback on their Gabardine pants. Their sizing is a little awkward to me as the size 0 pants are too baggy and the petite 0 pants are too short.

Theory makes great suits and their cut is better than J Crew suits, but they are way more expensive. Theory's sizing is smart. They provide size 00 with slimmer cut and the same length as other pants. In that way the petite girls can find pants that fit by simply having pants shortened and customers like me can still be satisfied.

After making a phone call to the Theory store located in the Premium Outlet in Wrentham, I knew it would be worth a trip. The store in the Outlet was well organized. There was a suit section with different styles of suits but made of the same material of 60% of wool and 40% of polyester. They provide all sizes including size 00. I picked four styles of pants, two skirts, and three jackets to try on and ended up getting one jacket, one skirt, and one pair of pants. The skirt and the pants fit me perfectly, and the jacket needs to be tailored slightly: the waist and the back need to be taken in a little. The total bill comes to $461.

J Crew: http://www.jcrew.com/
Jackets $228
Pants $118
Skirts $88

Theory: http://www.saks.com/ and http://www.neimanmarcus.com/
Jackets $360
Pants $230
Skirts about $200

Theory outlets: http://www.premiumoutlets.com/centers/index.asp
Jackets $216
Pants $138
Skirts $105

2 comments:

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Coolgirl said...

I needed a jacket for a job interview next week, and I found a gorgeous Theory wool jacket at an Off Saks Fifth Avenue store, which is their outlet store, for $110.00. Theory uses extremely quality materials, usually wool, and since they use Lycra, the jacket fits perfectly.