Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.
It’s almost time for thousands of law students and MBA students around the planet: interview week! We of course have the Guide to Women’s Suits for general advice, and we pick an interesting women’s suit once a week — but we haven’t rounded up interview suits in a while (charcoal suits in 2013, navy suits in 2012). There are, of course, a few Hall of Famers to note in this category: Banana Republic’s lightweight wool suiting, Ann Taylor’s triacetate suiting, J.Crew’s Super 120s suiting, Theory’s stretch wool suiting — in addition to those classics, below are the first six suits I’d try if I were looking to buy a classic, basic interview suit in today’s market.
Readers, do you have any favorite suits that are classic enough for interviewing? What’s your favorite budget suiting line — and your favorite splurge suiting line?
- If you’re really on a budget, I’d try the well-reviewed suiting line at Chadwicks. With a matching sleeveless sheath dress, pants, and skirt, there are a lot of options, and I like that the suit comes in regular, petite, and plus sizes. I’d stick with black, navy, or gray for interviewing, but it’s also available in khaki, white, and a pinstriped blue. The blazer is $35-$55, the pants are $39.99, the skirt is $19-$40, and the sheath is $40. Suiting Separates
- This highly-rated jacket from The Limited has a matching skirt and three matching pants (bootcut and flare) — nice! I also like that the suit is available in regular and petite, in navy, gray, and khaki. Selected pieces are on sale, so the jacket is $49.99-$94.80, the skirt is $59.90, and the pants are $39.99-$79.95 — use code NIGHT to take 50% off everything (and get free shipping). Navy Collection Slanted Pocket Suit
- I’m increasingly impressed by Nordstrom’s affordable Halogen brand, even for suiting. This basic suit, available in black and navy, looks like a great possibility for interviews, and I like that it’s available in regular and petite in sizes 0-16. The blazer is part of the Anniversary Sale (see my workwear picks here), and is currently marked to $84.90 — it’ll go back up to $128 after the sale. The matching pencil skirt is on sale for $41.40, and the matching pants are on sale for $47-$49. Halogen Suit Separates
- Gray is a less popular color for interview suits than black or navy, but it’s been gaining ground in recent years. This dark gray set is from one of my favorite affordable lines, Anne Klein at Macy’s. There’s also a petite version of the same suit, and matching pants. The blazer is $129, and the pants are $99. Gray Suit Separates Collection
- This stretch suit jacket and pencil skirt from Classiques Entier create that rare suit: classic enough to wear to an interview, but with enough interesting details to make everyone else jealous. I love the diagonal seams and slit on the skirt (make sure you do the mirror test before your interview!), and all the seaming on the jacket. I also like that many of the pieces are available in sizes 2-16. (There is a matching fit and flare dress and zippered ankle pants, neither of which I would wear to an interview in a conservative industry, but that’s me — they’d be great to have for more casual suit situations.) The jacket is $298, and the skirt is $188. Black “Jolie” Suit
- Maybe it’s me, but I feel like there are a million Hugo Boss stores everywhere I go in NYC — and I’m always swooning over the beautiful fabrics, cuts, and intricate details. If I were upgrading from a previous interview suit, or had some money to spend (and knew I’d wear it for a few years), their black tropical wool suiting would be my first pick. The jacket is $595, and the matching pants and skirt are both $250. Also in this price range: this lovely black suiting from Reiss (with the, er, helpful suggestions from Bloomingdale’s to wear it with strappy sandals and a clutch “big enough to hold your tablet for the big presentation.” Pictured: Black Tropical Wool Suit
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