When the dress code is less conservative, there are many polished alternatives to a traditional two-piece suit. Learn how to wear appropriate alternatives to suits, no matter your age, with the help of a few fashion-forward ladies.
20s: Anne Hathaway
- Three words: mix and match. A "suit" at this age can be anything from skinny jeans, a blouse, and a fitted vest to a denim pencil skirt, a long jersey tank, and a cropped jacket.
- Play with masculine-feminine combinations. An oxford shirt looks sweet with puff sleeves and a scarf tie. If you are wearing a tailored jacket, pair it with a ruffled blouse.
- Add color or shine to liven up the look. Select accessories in vibrant hues to give your serious look a youthful jolt.
30s: Joy Bryant
- If you have the figure for it, a razor-sharp pant or skirt is just the thing that says fashion forward and cool. For those who like a slouchier cut, try menswear-inspired trousers. But keep it dainty with a flouncy top or high heels.
- Try a jacket with a unique flair, like a cropped trench or an architectural cut, to energize a basic bottom.
- Add animal prints or touches of metallic to perk up your look while still keeping a sophisticated air.
- Pick accessories with twists on the traditional shapes, like a peep-toe pump with a slight platform.
40s: Kyra Sedgwick
- Looking conservative and refined doesn't need to be stuffy or restrictive.
- Get creative, but keep it polished. There are plenty of options to update a staid look. Try a belted cape instead of a jacket.
- Full trousers in rich fabrics, sweet skirts with embroidery, breezy blouses, and metallic jackets - all look modern and fun, but with an air of ladylike polish.
- When layering textures and fabrics, keep it in similar shades. But use accents and accessories to add color.
- Solids in basic colors are the standard, but quality and structure are what count. You want flattering, not fussy, so opt for rich fabrics, body-conscious cuts, and a comfortable fit that is simple but refined.
- Keep colors low-key, like black, white, and gray.
- Choose ultrafeminine pieces - like a scarf-tied blouse - to mix in with basics like a pencil skirt or trousers.
- Slim sweaters are a softer alternative to tailored jackets and can look just as polished. Make sure your knits aren't too bulky and are in good condition.
- Your accessories should add character to your look. Pick pieces in classic shapes but with interesting details, like a shiny patent gloss.
60s: Carolina Herrera
- Look for traditional tailoring, but with a few updates - like the superstructured cut of a jacket or infusions of volume in the sleeves or peplum.
- Mix fabrics and textures. For example, layer a chiffon blouse under a bouclé jacket atop a flannel skirt.
- Don't be afraid to wear color, but keep it conservative. Jewel tones look lovely and combine well with basic darks.
- Invest in ultraluxe accessories and they'll serve you well. Stick with classic shapes in deep brown or black and they'll go with everything.
Timeless Fashion Secrets for Every Age
70+: Lee Radziwill
- Whether you wear a pantsuit, skirt suit, or a dress and jacket, keep it high quality, structured, and clean. It's all about the finest materials and precise fit.
- Keep your figure in focus. While you should avoid anything too curve hugging, make sure your waist is always well-defined and the suit doesn't hang or look too slouchy.
- Colors should be simple and embellishments restrained. When adding dazzling details like a bejeweled trim, keep the rest of your accessories understated.
- If you have loads of suits in your closet, don't be afraid to break them up and switch the pieces around. You'll get a lot more mileage out of them. Just be sure you keep the colors in similar tones.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.