Suit of the Week: Donna Karan

For busy working women, the suit is often the easiest outfit to throw on in the morning. In general, this feature is not about interview suits, which should be as classic and basic as you get — instead, this feature is about the slightly different suit that is fashionable, yet professional.

sheryl sandbergs suit for TED talkLove, love, love this Donna Karan suit — if only it weren’t quite so low cut. First, the good: love the flattering, feminine look — the cinched waist, the suit-but-not-a-suit look to it, and even the brown-on-gray color scheme (with the belt). The bad: we’d probably advise going up a size (or three) in order to make sure that jacket crosses at a high enough point — we’re just not sure we could work a camisole beneath it. Still: gorgeous suit. The jacket (Belted Cascade Jacket) is $1295, and the skirt (Drape Back Pencil Skirt) is $650, both available at Bergdorf Goodman.

Psst: I’m 99% sure this is the suit Sheryl Sandberg wore for her famous TED talk!



  1. Very odd – can’t think of any way I could make this work.

    • Legally Brunette :

      Agreed. Very very odd.

    • Agree… not as bad as the infamous “mermaid” suit, but between the extreme v-neck, extra fabric across the stomach in a look-at-me manner… oy

      Oh, and the price tag of over $1K!

    • This strikes me as too editorial for the real world. And I say that as a tall, statuesque A-cup….

  2. You betta WERK! Luv luv luv!

  3. Love everything except the buckle on the belt.

  4. I would wear this with a turtleneck/cowl neck underneath. I don’t think it would work in my office otherwise and I think a crew/ballet neck shell would look weird since there isn’t a collar to the jacket.

    • I also think a thin bateau shirt might work here.

      • Or a high, straighth across simple camisole. No lace, obvi. I would do black or dark brown, maybe complimentary gray.

        • Yes, I was thinking a plain cami too. Maybe in a fine silk knit.

          • Or I would actually wear a V neck tee below to mimic the V neckline of the suit while raising the neckline simultaneously. Again in a nice fabric.

  5. This jacket exemplifies a comment I wanted to make earlier about the wrap dress posted this morning. There was discussion about whether the v-neck was too deep and some opinion that the size of your breasts made a difference.

    As this picture clearly shows (at least to me), it does not matter whether you are a D cup or an A cup like this model – there are parts of your body that should not be visible.

    • Except that of course this is way lower cut than the dress featured this morning.

      • @Kimbo – true, but goes to the same point. Smaller-chested women may be able to wear slightly lower-cut garments because with a smaller chest comes the tell-tale “cleavage” line that starting lower on the body. This jacket, IMO, is way over the “appropriate” line for the office regardless of chest size.

        Regardless of size, my rule of thumb is that whatever skin I can touch directly in the office, it should NOT feel like I am touching my chest. There’s a pretty distinct dividing line.

        • I think that size matters, unfair as it may be. Someone with skinnier legs can get away with a somewhat shorter skirt, whereas someone with a curvier, fuller leg will look less appropriate and have the same length skirt ride up more upon sitting.
          Same with cleavage. Obviously nothing this low cut would work in any office (unless you’re the stripper pretending to be the executive) but the morning dress looked fine to me on the model pictured. Same would go for other items like, say, a white turtleneck — which (see pics of the Citibank lawsuit lady) is much more suggestive on the chesty & totally fine on the not.

    • Old Lawyer Lady :

      Holy Crap! Who stole her brea$ts?????

    • I said this on the other thread, but I’ll say it again in the hopes of sparking discussion. It’s not just about showing cleavage, it’s just unprofessional to show too much skin. As a general rule, I’d say that you shouldn’t wear a neckline any lower in the front than would be appropriate in the back (does that make any sense?).

      There was a good post on here linking a blog that showed a video of Michele Bachman on some news show (presumably Fox). She was wearing a sleeveless top while the man she was debating had on a suit. The blogger pointed out, rightly in my opinion, that she looked like she was ready for a night out while he looked like he was going to work. There is nothing particularly sexual about showing skin on most areas of your body, but it’s still not appropriate for a professional workplace because bare skin looks fun and relaxed rather than professional and authoritative. There’s a reason why “buttoned-up” is a euphemism for conservative.

  6. I think tall, thin, AA/A-cup size gals could pull this off right as the model is wearing it. I’m thinking gals who would show the same or less cleavage than this model. To cover up the excess skin from being shocking you could wear it with a very chunky necklace that moved the eye towards your face rather than the V of the cleavage.

    • Also note that the jacket appears to have been folded to make the V more pronounced. I don’t think it goes as low as it shows here.

    • lawDJ, do you mean that they could pull of this look at work?

      if I saw a coworker wearing this I would probably lose my inner monologue and just ask her if she’d forgotten her shirt. this is ridiculous.

      • anon - chi :

        I would do a moderate amount of probably not-so-subtle gawking. I have a hard time believing anyone would wear this to any office the way it is styled here. I could see it (on someone with the model’s body type) as a LBD alternative at a swanky dinner, maybe in New York.

    • It doesn’t matter how flat you are – no way is that much skin appropriate in the office!

    • I think it would be risque, but I could also see a partner at a law firm wearing this, especially in corporate or a private client group.

      Again, I think it could come up higher (as it seems to me that the jacket has been styled on the model to be as low as possible, where even at this size there’s enough fabric to move the neckline 1-2″ higher) and possibly with a necklace of this type:

      • If a female partner wore this, it would generate a lot of “I guess we know how she made partner” comments. Sorry, double standard or whatever, but very true.

  7. A dark cami or shell is required with this jacket, IMHO. V-neck down to your navel is never cute.

  8. Needs a cami and also a small bust if you are going to make it work for work, and it would need to be a non-conservative office. Otherwise it looks kind of like an evening suit.

    Side note – has anyone seen Selling New York? I watched it yesterday and the broker with red hair had some very pretty sheath dresses which were definitely work-appropriate!!!

    • love that show! it makes me want to find a job that makes me lots and lots of money so i can live in one of those apartments. i agree with your statement about the broker with the red hair; i also have a hard time not laughing at some of the other firm’s (the family one) clothing choices. watching them try to navigate connecticut landscaping with 4 inch heels was amusing.

  9. Sigh. loove the suit. Hate the price. Or more precisely, my budgetary constraints.

  10. If I had to wear a suit *this* would be exactly what I would choose. Just enough “edge” for my field.

  11. I just can’t imagine an office in which that suit would ever be appropriate without a blouse. Even on the very thin model, you can see way too much skin and if she didn’t have her shoulders pulled back, you’d practically see her whole breast. I’ve gotten some great suit ideas on this blog, but I can’t agree on this one.

  12. Chicago K :

    I absolutely love this. Could I (or would I) wear it to work – no way, it seems way too sexy for work. But if I could afford a $2,000 dollar suit and had a place to go in a sex bomb suit, this would be the one.

    Not entirely sure where this would be appropriate, I am thinking a gallery opening or a party where you are not around your work collegues and want to sex it up and be a little daring. Or maybe just out to dinner with my S/O.

    Love love love.

    • Totally agree with you. This suit is stunning and I wish I had the life (and budget) to wear it!

      I’m afraid Kat is right about putting a top underneath. A horizontal cami-line would ruin the beautiful line of the v, a high-necked shell seems too conservative, and a blouse… no. And buying the jacket too big in order to have more material to wrap around just sounds like it would throw all the proportions off (not to mention needing some serious tailoring around the arm size…)

  13. It constantly amazes me what designers think is appropriate for offices. I am sorry, I am a grown up working at a grown up profession. I don’t want to look like I am going clubbing, a teenager or a hooker. Please provide clothes that are appropriate for my age and profession. And in something other than grey and dark blue. Thank you.

    • Honestly, I don’t think that this is something that was designed with an office in mind. This should more than likely be looked at as a cocktail or dinner suit. But, with a blouse or sweater underneath-this is perfectly acceptable for those in less conservative fields. I could totally see someone like Anna Wintour wearing this to work.

    • I think this would prefectly fine with something under. Hardly says club or hooker in my opinion. I think the issue may be more with how clothes are styled in magazines/online shopping sites. I don’t see anyone blinking an eye (other than in appreciation of how great I look) if I wore this with the appropriate top underneath.

    • We can trace it back to the casualization of America. Retailers that make nice business appropriate clothing are going out of business and everyone is adjusting their clothing styles to appeal to the business casual masses. It brings a lot of confusion in the workplace and challenges for professionals like yourself that are looking for work appropriate clothing.

  14. love love love. can’t afford it, but love. sigh.

  15. My new mantra with these questionable outfits is: “What would Debrahlee Lorenzana do?” If she’d wear it, I wouldn’t (at work)….

    • Chicago K :

      Ha, since I work at a bank my first thought was, “Gee, I’d be the next Debrahlee Lorenzana if I wore that to work!”

  16. I could see this with a super thin (not see-through thin, just super light)turtleneck, in the right field. It’s got a gorgeous line to it, but no one needs to see the pale white of the bottom of my sternum.

  17. LOVE this and think it would be totally appropriate at my ginormous law firm (without a cami/blouse underneath), depending on how it fit. I am small-busted so think I could probably get away with it. If only my checkbook could get away with it…

  18. Also, love love LOVE! I am trying not to clap at my computer screan looking at this beauty. It screams high-fashion, fabulous woman! Although its styled w/o a blouse for the shoot (and with the collar turned down if you notice), I think the office necessitates a camisole. I would love to wear this (assuming, that is, that I could spend over 1,000 on a suit in the first instance…which I cannot).

  19. Can’t imagine anyone seriously thinking this is ok to wear to work without a tee under it.

    General rule: if you need flashtape on a suit, wear something under it.

  20. Stunning suit. I would need a wardrobe consultant to find me a top that worked underneath the jacket, but the suit itself is gorgeous.

  21. I love this one. I don’t think it would be at all inappropriate with a thin top underneath. I have a medium chest and think it would probably be fine if I took out the fold, but the price is just too high to make it happen.

  22. Chicago S :

    Interesting suit, but not for work unless you are in a very creative field.

  23. Worn as the model is wearing it, it’s inappropriate for the average workplace. It a very deep V and my bra would definitely show. (Going braless just doesn’t work for my 40 year old DDs). You need to have something on with it. I think it would work with the right silk cami or shell. That said, it is a beautiful suit. I could see wearing it to an upscale wedding or event.

  24. Wait… No avalanche of complaints that this $2000+ suit is not made of all natural fabrics?! Viscose, rayon, spandex — Corporette Heresy!! ;-)

  25. Esquirette :

    Fierce. A cowl-neck top of fine, thin material would be lovely under this jacket — no hard straight line across the chest and not too much volume to detract from the sleek lines of the jacket, and you could still add a necklace if you wanted.

  26. legalicious07 :

    WOW! This is stunning! I love it! Even though I have the chest and frame for it, I wish I were (a) taller and (b) not a newly minted law student with mounds of debt so that I could pull this off. I agree that it’d need some adjusting to be office appropriate, but the lines are fantastic. I’d definitely invest in this if I were 6 or 7 years into my career!

    • 1L (Summer) NYC :

      I know this is so amazing. I agree with the styling points above — i.e. bateau neck thin shirt underneath, maybe in dark colors like maroon.

  27. Would love to know where you have to work for this to be appropriate!

    Re: how low is too low – my rule (posted earlier as well) is that you neckline’s lowest point should be at or above the top of your armpit when you have your arms down and are looking in the mirror. Easy, to the point, and fail-safe in terms of does-this-look-slutty

  28. YOU GUYS.

    I just graduated and am working at an internship for the summer. I was promised a performance and salary review in August to talk about bringing me on as a full time hire. I was ready for this, browsing Craigslist, sort of dreading the coming job search, and really unsure if I would get the job – I have no doubts about my work product, but the main portion of my job involves a project for the company that is kind of an experiment, and upper management is pretty split on whether that project is a worthwhile venture.

    Today after a meeting, my boss goes, “Hey, just some feedback,” and my heart sank. I was like, oh crap, I did something wrong but I had my notebook out and was ready. And he was like “I just want you to know, I think you’re doing a great job, we are 100% bringing you on in the fall.”


    Now, this is not *official* and they still have to make it so (and my boss is going out of town for a month so it may be a while before that happens) — but I am so happy! At the very least, I have employment.

    • Congratulations!

    • I hate reading these stories, and I know that is 100% selfish and awful of me. And I don’t begrudge you your success, I just get such pangs of jealousy and get so anxious!

      That said, it is nice to have a place where we can support each other, and I am happy for you. Just had to share that I had a physical reaction to this post, I think it was the capital letters, and I know that is my own problem and fears.

    • Congratulations! Word of advice – don’t count on this as a guarantee of employment. I was promised a job in a similar manner once, and then it turned out they hired someone else. Needless to say this left me in a very bad place, especially b/c I had stopped looking. So keep up your job search until you have a firm offer in hand.

    • Congratulations!

      I would agree with Erin that you should still be cautious with this type of offer. I’ve been let down by that type of situation once and ended up wasting 4 months on a job that ended up going to an internal candidate who was never sent the job advertisement. I know others who had similar experiences, unfortunately.

    • Congratulations!!! Keep up the awesome-ness!

  29. This dress is gorgeous, but perfect for a very slim lady.

    Clearance! 90% Off on Louis Vuitton handbags at Buy 100 get 100 free.

    • ooooh, goody!

      please stop. (1), you keep emphasizing how skinny everyone needs to be — not polite/helpful. (2) your comments are spam. (3) it is probably better for your site, whatever it is (because I’m certainly not clicking through) for you to stop “promoting” it here.

    • Someone posted that this site is spam, they clicked it and it their spyware went crazy.

      Also I have a feeling it might be some sort of program? The words and sentences are always off, it could be that english isn’t the first language but because of the added link, I think its some sort of robot thing. (Can you tell I don’t know much about computers? :)

    • Personally, I love that they are trying to sell us TWO HUNDRED (200) knock-off LV bags. Just what I needed!

  30. I dunno. This seems kind of Cruella de Vil/Morticia Addams to me. I don’t really see it working in a conservative (or even not-so-conservative) office. It would make a great costume for someone on True Blood though!

    • Yes, I can see “Sophie-Ann” looking amazing in this… but then again she’s supposed to be a permanently 15-year-old vampire

  31. Fascinating that the reactions to this suit are either “Love it!” or “Totally not appropriate!” No one said, “Meh.”

    Good job, Kat!

  32. I could totally wear that if I had the $$$$$$$..

    but how can you advocate going up a few sizes in that jacket?? wearing a fitted cami under is a much better option than spending a lot of money on a beautifully cut suit jacket and intentionally buying it too big so it won’t fit properly!

  33. Ouch on the second picture above– either her hip is sticking out at a horrible angle, or it is over-photoshopped.

    On the store website, the first, large picture where the model is standing straight makes the suit work. It will need a shirt under it and I wouldn’t go up a size– it won’t hang right on your body.

  34. I’m in the “love it” crowd – but with a high, high neckline needed underneath. The idea of wearing it like the model is doing is crazy.

  35. Whoah. This, I love.

  36. I just need to comment again. This is great. Makeup, hair, and monochromatic head-to-toe — Awesome.

    • Based on your username I’m unsurprised that monochromatic head to toe appeals to you. :) The model does look fantastic!

  37. Am I the only one that thinks this suit has way too much going on?

  38. Gorgeous!

  39. Why has no one pointed out that going UP a size would have the opposite effect of the one intended? Going up in size would increase the depth of the V, as there would be more distance between where it crosses and the shoulders. Maybe the post’s author meant go down a size? Either way, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to buy an outfit this expensive in the wrong size–wear a plain, black, tight-fitting, straight-across cami.

    • I think the idea was that going up a size would mean extra fabric and one could wrap it farther over to the side, creating a higher neckline.

  40. Along the lines of suits… Where does BCBGeneration think women work? Honestly. I have BCBG stuff (wearing a shirt now, actually), but the Generation line is terrifying.
    Example A:
    And I quote “polished and professional”.
    Example B:
    How is that sophisticated?

    Rant over.

  41. Never. Great for the movies, maybe – the female lead in the next George Clooney ‘office’ thing – but NEVER to be worn in a serious professional setting, regardless of cup size, build, hair color or anything else. Camisole and all that be damned, just start with the right suit for the job. This isn’t. Even Miranda Priestley at 35 could not pull this off. But it’s fun too look at.

  42. Just sayin' :

    It there some seriously bad Photoshop going on with her lower half, or is it just me?

  43. Liz (continental Europe) :

    Can I just voice my distaste over how anorexic the model appears to be?

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