The origins of the woman’s suit traces back to the early 1900s. In a time when the uncomfortable and restrictive hobble skirt was trendy, early feminists created a new outfit which went against convention. With a blouse, jacket, and loose skirt, the suffragette suit was born.

These early attempts at female empowerment through clothing were paradigm shifting. After countless generations of quiet oppression women were beginning to speak up, get out of the house, and become involved. The suffragette suit marked the beginning of modern feminism, but it didn’t offer much in terms of fashionable options.

Over the next 100 years or so, women made great strides redefining gender roles and making a place for themselves in what was once a male dominated world. Today’s woman has choices and options to mold her career and her life into what she wants it to be. While women were undergoing a revolution, the woman’s suit has been making strides to keep up.

Today there is a suit for every woman and for every occasion. The professional woman’s wardrobe is vibrant and robust. Her suits are no longer designed to distract from the fact that she is a woman but rather accentuate who she is as an individual. Just as the suffragette suit was indicative of a woman’s status at that time, our versatile and varied wardrobes are a representation of how far we have come.

While women’s suits today come in many styles, navigating the world of suits doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Even though there are countless ways to customize and accessorize a suit, all of them can be put into one of three basic categories. Here is a brief guide to keep in mind.

Business Professional

The business professional suit is the most conservative of the bunch and most suited for job interviews, meetings, and anywhere that you need to make a strong first impression. This style has been around for some time and while it may not appear to leave much room for individuality, it is classic and timeless.

Colors such as grey, black, navy, or brown are most appropriate here. To pull off the business professional look, this suit can be paired with a straight leg long pant, knee length skirt, or pencil skirt. A notched lapel finishes off the jacket with a nod to tradition.

Business Casual

The business casual suit is more versatile and is suitable for the office as well as a night out. While it can certainly be worn as a full suit, the style also lends itself well to being deconstructed into individual parts that can be worn with unconventional pieces. Think blouse, blazer, and jeans with colorful heels.

The colour palette for the business casual suit is still somewhat subdued but offers more variety. Lighter blues, khaki, and off white are good choices for this suit. There is also the option of ditching the lapel. New styles appear here for the bottom half of the suit in the form of cropped or wide pant options.

Fashion Forward

The fashion forward suit is fun, formal, and fantastic! It’s sure to be noticed at weddings, galas, or speaking engagements. This is the suit that manages to break with convention while still remaining a suit.

The colors here are more likely to be bold and vibrant. We see reds, purples and blues amid some more subdued options for the woman who wants to turn heads without breaking necks. The jacket has the flashier peaked lapel and can be single or double breasted. The bottom half of the suit is pretty versatile with a pant or skirt.

What’s your look?

Sierra E is a Los-Angeles based trial lawyer and entrepreneur. She became partner at her law firm in 2015 and has made numerous appearances as a guest legal correspondent on CNN. In 2018, Sierra launched SuitKits, an online shopping service that allows women to custom design suits and separates to fit their exact measurements, style, color and cut. Through her career, her writings, and her company, Sierra hopes to help women from all backgrounds achieve both personal and professional success for the benefit of themselves and their families. You can find her on Twitter/Facebook/IG @SuitKits

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