Skirt and pantsuits seem like a great idea to wear in a very conservative work environment. But is it really your best and safest choice when you are in midlife? Many stylists say “No, go for an unmatched suit instead.” This post covers why and how to loose your fear of unmatched suits and learn how to style an unmatched suit.
- Are You Aware of the Messages a Suit Sends when You Are over 40?
- Go for an Unmatched Suit Instead
- How to Wear a Suit when You Don’t Own One
- Orange Skirt and Jacket Styled as a Suit
- Outfit Inspiration of Unmatched Suits
- Further Ideas for Great Unmatched Ensembles
- A Dress with Jacket Can Substitute a Suit
- Athleisure Pants and Blazer
Are You Aware of the Messages a Suit Sends when You Are over 40?
I had an important meeting at work for which I had to “dress up”. When you are a regular reader of my blog, you may know that I am not a big fan of regular suits. On young women, they read mature, professional. However, on us over 40, a real suit easily reads conservative, old fashioned. Unfortunately, these attributes are also often associated with not being up-to-date and not being creative, and past your prime. These things are nothing we want to be associated with. Thus, women over 40 have to be creative to convey the messageI am on top of things! Click To Tweet
Go for an unmatched suit instead
It’s unfair, isn’t it? Thus, I paired my white blazer with my tweed skirt that has some white and teal accents in the otherwise black fabric. I added a teal cashmere wool mix sweater which is considered work appropriate in cold climate regions in winter. Yes, and it was really cold! We had another cold snap. It just missed 40 below zero by a small margin.
At work, I slipped in my pumps that I brought in my a shoes bag in my inside my bag. Because of the need to schlep shoes back and forth in winter, and to have a cardigan handy when it gets chilly in the evening in summer most of my bags are huge.
How to Wear a Suit When You Don’t Own One
There are these professional events when you have to wear a suit. When these occasions just occur twice a months or so, you probably don’t want to invest in an entire wardrobe of costumes and pantsuits. Closet space is expensive real estate. Suits are expensive when they are high quality and classic. You have to style with trends look modern in a suit, to not look old, boring, old-fashioned and so Old Lady when you are over 40.
But who wants to invest into these items when one can only get so few wear out of them? Unmatching the suit is one solution that gives you some extra wear when you own an ensemble. Otherwise, create one out of the pants/skirts and blazers in your closet.
Another tip is to go for unmatched suits. It permits you to look different at the various meetings. Why is this important? Well, it conveys the message that you are creative and have ideas, and that you are on top of things.Wear an unmatched suit at a meeting to make an entrance. Click To Tweet
I have no clue why men can wear the same suit-tie combo over and over and nobody would think of them as boring, old-fashioned and non-creative. Instead, they are considered as being stable and reliable. Why are these differences in judgement?
Orange Skirt and Jacket Styled as a Fake Suit
Fake suits instantly make a Business Casual look. In the next outfit, both the skirt and jacket have the same hue, but a distinctly different shade would work too.
Note that the skirt and jacket are from the same brand. The danger of two pieces in the same color from the same brand is that you always wear them together. Resist this urge. It makes your style boring. Also avoid adding another piece from that brand. Wearing the same designer all over makes you a fashion victim and let’s you come across as unsecure. A message you don’t want to send.
Outfit Inspiration of Unmatched Pink Suit
I found this pink skirt and leather motor cycle jacket at a different visits in my favorite consignment store in town. Pink is one of the colors I like to wear in spring and summer so I tried them on. They have a perfect fit, and so they came into my closet. They look great together as it is a monochromatic look sort of. The recipe is to go for different texture. The smooth leather and weave of the tweed do the trick. You can read more about how to create a monochromatic look at the link.
Further Ideas for Great Unmatched Ensembles
While going for a monochromatic look is the easiest, other nice options are classics like a navy blazer with a gray skirt, a plaid blazer with a matching skirt or vice versa. Swap plaid for floral in summer.
A Dress with Jacket Can Substitute a Suit
In summer, it is often a great choice to ditch the skirt suit for a tailored work dress. It provides thermal comfort at the meeting in AC and still remains bearable when you have to walk a couple of blogs for the luncheon with the group.
Try Out Everything with Everything
Keep your eyes open and get inspired. Sometimes an outfit idea just occurs by accident. Here an example from my own experience. This skirt is the one I bought at Nordstrom Rack in Boulder where I met with Ana from Mrs American Made. It was a real bargain. See my tips and hacks for shopping at Nordstrom Rack.
By accident when hanging my new skirt back into my closet, I saw that the tweed has about similar colors and the same size of structure than my tweed motorcycle jacket. Well, a fake skirt suit was born. I had this outfit in mind for a couple of days and when a meeting was on my work schedule I finally wore it.
#StyleTip Try out everything with everything. Go for what looks the best wrong. Click To Tweet
My take-home message for you: Don’t stop at the obvious. Try out everything with everything and go for what the wrongest way looks right. Or should I say, the rightest way wrong.
Outfits look great and are head turning when they look right, but are unexpected. Of course, its a balance act. Styling is all about balance, gals. 😉 Even when you wear a real ensemble, you have to pay attention to how to wear a suit and not look old.
Athleisure Pants and Blazer
The next example works for Casual Friday in a casual work environment. It features the athleisure trend, and builds on the black and white trend color-wise. The heels and the classic combination of hounds tooth blazer with turtleneck sweater make the look office appropriate. More on styling the athleisure trend in the linked guide.
Further Reading on How to Style an Unmatched Suit
If your work dress code requires a real suit, you may be interested in reading how to have corporate style without looking boring.
Short suits are having a moment. Learn how to style an unmatched suit with shorts.
When you want to jump the leather suit band wagon you may love this superb leather suit look.
What do you wear to an important meeting at the office in winter? What are your challenges to not look old fashioned/conservative when you have to dress up at work? Let me know, I am curious.
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