I have mentioned before that I am a bit of a tomboy when it comes to dressing. I feel very comfortable in clothes that are cut in a traditional menswear style. My husband sometimes remarks he doesn't know whether to kiss me or give me a high five! Great.
A suit really appeals to this fashion sensibility. I like sharp tailoring on women - masculine meets feminine. Here, mum and I are test driving a couple of Topshop's finest. Mine is in corduroy - one of my all time favourite fabrics. Mum's is in a stripe - one of my all time favourite patterns. So we're off to a good start.
N.B. The raincoat that mum is wearing is by the Scandinavian brand, Stutterheim. I cannot rave about them enough. Their coats are the perfect blend of functionality and style and having owned one for two years, I can vouch for both (I have the Stockholm in Green). I'm frequently having to fight battles with the British weather in order to get my daughter from A to B and my Stutterheim raincoat has been a faithful friend through the toil.
The trick to looking good in a suit is in the fit. The moment it goes from chic, lady-in-charge to unfortunate 80's throwback is when the jacket is too tight across the shoulders (and so causing puckering at the back and where the top of the arm meets the shoulder pad) OR if the jacket is too big and therefore hangs off the shoulders (not in a good way). I would generally say that the sharper the cut of the jacket, especially in pieces from the high-street, the more flattering the suit. As you move up the scale into designer suits, then you can rely more on craftsmanship and therefore trust in the cut of the suit being flattering, regardless of the style.
So how do you wear a suit and not look like you're going to the office? Again, it's all in the cut - but this time, the cut of the trousers. As a general rule, I would say the wider the trouser leg, the more relaxed the suit will look. However, if you're someone who prefers a more fitted look then I would go skinny on the trousers. The minute that the trousers are a half way house between wide and skinny, is the moment that you're dangerously veering into BHS office-wear territory.
The great thing about buying a suit is that you don't have to wear it as a two piece. To get more out of it, you can wear the trousers and jacket separately. Both of these jackets would look awesome with a pair of high waisted jeans. Also, both of us could take off our jackets and wear our tops and bottoms as stand alone outfits. I'm always looking for clothes that work for their space in my wardrobe and a suit is definitely something that does. My only word of warning though is to be careful about wearing one half of the suit a lot more than the other. You'll notice a difference in colour and condition when they are re-united.
In terms of what you dress a suit with, if you're going for a more casual vibe then t-shirts and sweatshirts work really well. Scandinavian newcomers Arket have a fantastic selection of beautiful quality (which are actually surprisingly hard to find). My clients are always asking me where to buy the perfect white t-shirt. In terms of shoes, I love trainers and brogues but an ankle boot would look fantastic too. The choice of trainers out there is obviously endless but with a suit i'd be inclined to go for lightweight ones. Superga, Converse and my current favourite - Veja - are all great examples. For high street brogues I would recommend Grenson. Their price to style/quality is extremely good. For designer, I would always say Dries Van Noten and Prada.
Of course, many of you will be keen to wear suits in the more traditional sense for work. I frequently get asked about office dressing - the need to be smart and appropriate but also the desire to be stylish and have a sense of individuality. I would definitely suggest wearing suits like these two here but instead of pairing them with trainers and t-shirts, you might want to choose a camisole or blouse and either a pair of pointed flats (LK Bennet and Russell & Bromley have a good selection) or heels - a court or a 'barely there' shoe would look great.
At the end of the day - have fun with it. The most important advise that I can give is to feel comfortable in what you are wearing.......!