A good suit is a sartorial staple for most men, but ladies can rock a good pantsuit with the best of them.
Suits have been a mainstay in women’s fashion for over a century now, from the classic 1920s Chanel tweed number and the Yves Saint Laurent ‘Le Smoking‘ tuxedo in the 1960s, to the iconic broad-shouldered 1980s power suit.
The emergence and evolution of women’s suits in history has occurred almost in tandem with feminist movements in the West, with the woman’s suit serving as a symbol of rebellion and resistance.
While a woman wearing a suit today is not quite the subversive spectacle it used to be, it’s far from ubiquitous. So if you’ve always wanted to strut it out in a fine suit but aren’t sure where to start, here’s the 101 on suits for women.
What To Look Out For
This is the part of looking for suits where you feel like you’re drowning in options. You might see tons of words thrown around like ‘slimline’ and ‘double-breasted’ and ‘oversized’ and think — okay, this is way too much. But don’t give up just yet!
One way to choose a silhouette might be to think of what types of silhouettes you already like to wear. When it comes to pants, do you favour high or lower waists? Cigarette cut or flared?
Chances are if you like it as a pant, you’ll like it as a suit. Thinking about your body and what you might want to accentuate can also help.
If you’re on the petite side, perhaps something a little more fitted around the waist to highlight rather than drown your natural figure.
You can also think about where you might be wearing this suit. For a business look for the office, a more classic cut might be the choice for you.
But if you’re dressing up for a night out, feel free to go bold with something more unconventional, like a cropped jacket or a modern oversized fit!
Fabrics can definitely alter the look of a suit, but functionality is a primary consideration too.
Particularly in Singapore’s weather, try to avoid anything made from polyester, viscose, or acetate — these are basically plastic and will get you feeling sweaty real quick (make sure these materials aren’t hiding in the suit linings too!).
Wool, cashmere, mohair, silk, and linen are natural fabrics that are a little more breathable, and also look stylish.
And don’t forget about fabric maintenance. Linen is a wonderfully light and breathable material, but creases very easily, meaning loads of steaming.
Some speciality fabrics may be difficult for some dry cleaners to work with, so be sure your suit can get the VIP treatment it needs.
Whatever the silhouette, a good fit is key for your look to come across as crisp and intentional.
When buying ready-to-wear, think especially about aspects like the shoulders and jacket length, which are much harder and almost impossible to alter, as opposed to sleeve lengths, which can easily be nipped and tucked.
If someone’s looking at you weird in the dressing room for trying on five different suit jackets and looking at yourself in every angle, ignore them – you’re the one that’s coming out with a great-fitting suit.
Colour and Print
If you’re new to the game, you might fall victim to one of the classic blunders: going black.
A black suit is definitely a classic option, but there are a ton of other neutral colours that work with everything and are sufficiently formal that’ll look amazing.
How about going for a navy blue or a pale grey? And if you really want to shake it up and make a statement, a bold colour or print is just the way to do it.
A Great Suit For Every Budget
A ready-to-wear suit is probably the most affordable suit option you’re going to find, as they fall more towards the mass-produced end of the spectrum.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on quality. You can still end up with a fab suit if you’re willing to persevere through testing a whole range of suits and scrutinising every detail — or shelling a few extra dollars for small alterations. Try ZARA, Mango, ASOS, and Love, Bonito.
Custom suits are a little more specifically tailored to you, and there are two kinds: made-to-measure and bespoke.
A made-to-measure suit uses existing tailoring patterns modified to your personal measurements. This allows for a good amount of customisability and gives you an opportunity to collaborate with your tailor on a suit that you want.
Bespoke might be a pricey option and a real plunge – but hear us out. Made from complete scratch, a good quality bespoke suit is a piece of wearable art that fits you seamlessly, personality and size. This type of suit will likely last you a lifetime.
Where To Buy: Custom Women’s Tailors in Singapore
3EIGHTH is the ultimate suit specialist in Singapore for people of all gender identities. Built upon a dream to “put every girl in a suit,” the company is all about fluidity and openness, and challenging gender norms through clothing.
If you’re after something that’s really inventive and one-of-a-kind, 3EIGHTH is where those dreams come true.
3EIGHTH is located at Centropod @ 80 Changi Road, #02-27. Singapore 419715, p. +65 8768 8577. Open Mon — Fri 11am — 8pm, Sat 11am — 5pm. Send in enquiries or make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Made Suits creates bespoke and made-to-measure suits that are contemporary but classically founded in Neapolitan tailoring traditions.
If you’re after something clean and elegant, this is the perfect place to go. Their Made Suits x Señorita collection also features a range of modern, off-the-rack pieces that look like they just walked off a magazine cover.
The Bespoke Club
The Bespoke Club is all about you becoming your own designer and getting involved in every step of making your suit.
An emphasis on traditional techniques combined with a new technological approach characterises their process, perfect for the modern lady or gentleman of today.
With everything from subtle styles to loud looks, you’re sure to find something that works for you.
The Bespoke Club is located at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Casino Level #B2M-229, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018972, p. +65 6634 1253. Open daily 11am — 8pm. Send enquiries to email@example.com or make an appointment here.
This homegrown brand focuses on helping you curating wardrobe staples of the highest quality, providing bespoke and made-to-measure suits, as well as various other quality garments.
Their bespoke creations are made entirely by hand using age-old techniques, resulting in a timeless piece of clothing that only gets better with age.
Styling A Suit
Now that you’ve got a suit, the next dilemma occurs: what to wear with it? For a classically masculine look, a fitted shirt and tie will take your look to the next level, especially with loafers or Oxfords.
For something more casual chic, perhaps pair your suit with a white t-shirt and tennis shoes or a fun pair of flats. For something uber dressy and sexy, put on your tallest pair of heels and a fun crop blouse under your jacket.
An extra tip: you also don’t have to wear both pieces in your suit together all the time. Pair your suit jacket with a different pair of trousers, some dressy jeans, or even a skirt.
Ultimately, women’s suits are all about empowerment and breaking the rules, so you do you.
This article was first published in City Nomads.