The Best Women’s Suits of 2018: Affordable, Designer, and Everything In Between

Whether you're looking for a stylish interview outfit, courtroom attire, or an investment suit with that "corner office chic" look, check out our roundup of the best women's suits of 2018. We're also asking the readers what their power suits are, as well as what their favorite interview suit or work outfit is! Which are the best women’s suits of 2018, whether for a stylish interview outfit, a power suit, or some other major career event? (Or, hey: a simple, chic suit often makes a great work outfit all by itself!) We’ve recently updated The Corporette Guide to Interview Suits, but we haven’t talked about the best suits for women in ages (aww, here was one of our first discussions on suiting basics for women!) so I thought we’d do a roundup. (We’ll also be updating our guide to plus size suits, petite suits, tall suits, and more in the coming weeks as well!) Readers, which are your favorite interview suits right now? What do you consider to be your “power suit”? What are you looking for in a suit in 2018?

(June 2018 Update: Check out where to find stylish plus-size suits for work! Looking for petites? Check out our roundup for where to find stylish petite suits for women.)

First, some general tips on what to look for in a great suit:

  • Confidence is the key to interview attire and power dressing. The goal of any interview suit or other suit like this is to let your brain do the talking and let your fashion sense take a back seat — so if you feel best in a pants suit, or flats, go for that. You don’t want to be that “baby giraffe” trying to walk in uncomfortable heels that are too high for you and sitting awkwardly in your interview fussing with your jacket. Really: whatever makes you feel like a polished professional is what’s going to make you the most confident. So take the rest of these tips with a grain of salt, BUT for my $.02, here are some shopping, styling, and budget tips: 
    • If you’re hunting for a budget-friendly interview suit: go for a
      black skirt suit rather than a pants suit
      , because pants fit is by far the hardest thing to get right. In my experience a $60 skirt suit looks OK but a $60 pants suit makes you look like you come from Planet Frump. Furthermore, the skirt suit will go farther — you can wear the pencil skirt as a basic bottom in your wardrobe (but always dryclean all pieces of a suit together!), plus if you have a “dressed up” occasion, a skirt suit is always going to be the more formal option. Another pro for a simple pencil skirt: you completely avoid the issue of what length/type pants to get, which really does feel like we’re in a period of flux — for a while all you could find were ankle pants, even though they were too trendy to wear to most conservative workplaces — now that flared pants and bootcut trousers are coming back I feel like the ankle pants will look outdated pretty quickly. Other trends I’ve seen with suits: jumpsuits! culottes! short suits! You want 1) a pencil skirt + hip length jacket or 2) a fitted sheath dress + hip length jacket — these combos have been in for years and probably will be for years to come. (Here’s our guide to pantyhose, which yes, if you want to be “safe,” you should probably wear for any interview if you’re junior, particularly in more conservative areas — but go back to our first point on confidence/comfort and factor that in.)
    • If you’re shopping online, look for words such as: seasonless wool, stretch wool, tropical wool, gabardine, triacetate. Avoid words like sateen, shimmer, linen. Crepe can be really tricky — sometimes it means a polyester drapey blend for suiting and sometimes it means a bridesmaid’s dress/MOB type thing.
    • If you’re busty: traditional wisdom here is that you want more buttons on your blazer, not fewer. I’m plenty busty and have had some favorite one-button jackets over the years, though, so your mileage may vary here. Depending on trends you can sometimes find suits with as many as four or five buttons. Check out this post for more workwear style tips for busty women.
  • Treasure hunting for a suit (where you MAY or may not find something good): T.J. Maxx, Yoox, ASOS, OFF5TH, and Nordstrom Rack
  • Consider taking your suit to the tailor.  Common suiting alterations include shortening sleeves, adjusting the waist. Note that the blazer (specifically the shoulder/arms) are the hardest part to tailor, so focus on that fit when you’re shopping.
  • Please don’t forget to cut your Xs, always dryclean suiting pieces together, and — if you’re wearing the suit somewhere Very Important like an interview, make sure you use the mirror trick.
  • For other tips on buying a basic interview suit (including considerations on colors, care, accessories, layering, and more), please check out The Corporette Guide to Interview Suits. (We’re in the midst of updating our guide to what tops to wear under suits!)

Looking for older versions of this post? Here’s our roundup in 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, and (aww) 2008.

We’ll put a few handy pins at the bottom of this post for you with general prices for suiting alterations and general advice for what to wear on interviews. But first: on to our roundup of the best women’s suits of 2018!

Affordable Suits For Women

All of the suits in this tier are generally under $250 for two pieces. Note that the two big risks with a budget option will be frumpiness on one end — and “sexy secretary”/ formality problems on the other. Try to look for a material that drapes well, doesn’t wrinkle, isn’t too seasonal (such as a cotton suit — a tropical wool or triacetate will go farther) — and be wary of trendy cuts like collarless jackets, huge slits in your skirt, cropped pants, and more.

best women's suits of 2018: affordable, stylish interview outfits

Pictured above: skirt suit /  pants suit / skirt suit / pants suit / skirt suit

  • Anne Klein (separates) – Nordstrom has a few Anne Klein suits; Macy’s also carries them. They also have an exclusive line at Macy’s called “Anne Klein Executive,” but note that those are full suit sets, not separates. Pictured above: pantsuit and a skirt set from the Executive line.
  • Banana Republic Factory – Like J.Crew Factory, BR’s outlet sector has a lot of good finds for work, particularly on the more affordable, classic side of things. Note that because these pieces may be produced just for the Factory Store it may mean that there are differences in fit and quality — so keep that in mind when ordering.
  • Calvin Klein (separates) – It’s next to impossible to find a good link to one online, but Calvin Klein suiting separates are also sold at Macy’s and are pretty reliable; here’s a link to the classic two-button blazer. (Amazon also has a ton of them, many of them eligible for Prime Wardrobe (here’s Kate’s recent review of Prime Wardrobe).
  • Chadwicks – I have no experience personally with these suits, but some of the blazers are under $20 (!) and the brand offers regular, petite, plus, and tall sizes — and they have suiting separates.
  • Kasper (separates) and Tahari (separates) – Kasper used to specialize in full suit sets, but in recent years they’ve had a line of separates for sale, which is great for people who want, say, a petite-sized blazer but a regular-sized skirt. I haven’t tried them on for quality or fit, though. (Pictured at top: Tahari.)
  • Kasper / Tahari / Le Suit (not sold as separates) – You can find huge deals on these brands at places like TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Smart Bargains, and Overstock — but it’s very hard to break the pieces up and wear them as separates, at least in my experience. If you need a skirt suit for under $100 all in, though, these brands are the first places I’d look. Note that because these suits are sold as one product (rather than as separates) you usually have to pick a single size — if you’re a 10 on top and 14 on the bottom, for example, this is not going to be the way you want to go. In my experience these suits may trend towards the frumpy side, particularly as pantsuits — in a skirtsuit the fit issues will be less noticeable. (You may also want to check out our guide to suiting alterations!) Pictured above.
  • Express – If you’re a fan of their Editor/Columnist pants, do check out their matching blazers and other suiting options. As always with these brands, watch or fit — but note that Express has been stepping up their workwear game lately, so these may be a great option if you’re looking for an interview suit on a budget. Pictured above.
  • J.Crew Factory – J.Crew’s factory outlet is a great source for workwear, particularly affordable wool suiting separates — inventory comes and goes, but when it’s in stock it’s pretty great.
  • Lands’ End – Particularly if you’re looking for a washable wool blazer in a wider size range (such as tall, petite, plus or cusp sizes), Lands’ End can be a great, affordable option.
  • Loft – Sometimes you can get a basic dark suit here, although I’d be worried about wrinkling and trendiness/formality (compared to other options, like Tahari or Anne Klein)
  • Mango – Mango has really stepped up their office wear line recently, including a ton of suits and more. Pictured at very top of post.
  • Nine West (separates) – I usually think of Nine West as selling “fun” suits in classic cuts (like bright pink ones) but from time to time they have neutral suits. If you see one on the rack in a color you like but are hesitant to try because you think Nine West only sells affordable shoes, think again… Nice options in stock right now: two-button stretch and a clasp-front blazer.
  • NY & Co. – I’d be wary of the fabric and fit here, so it’s hard to recommend them online — but if you have a store near you, these are some of the most budget-friendly suits you can get. They have a line called “all-season stretch” that would be the place I’d start. Here’s a nice option.
  • White House | Black Market – Their suits tend to be more trendy than classic, but they do have a line of seasonless suiting (and in plus sizes as well!).
  • Bonus notes: Brands that regularly make “fun” suits that may occasionally have neutral suits include ASOS, H&MNine West, Topshop (also at Nordstrom), Zara. Also, a sad trombone for The Limited, which used to be one of our favorites in this space — the company went bankrupt and was sold, and while they do have inventory right now it’s mostly non-suiting pieces — and judging by the number of “everything for $11!” sales we’ve seen, they’re still working out kinks in sizing, fit and quality. Still, keep an eye on them — we’re rooting for them to come back!

Mid-Range Suits For Women

These suits are reliably under $500 for two pieces — but they’re going to be a bit higher quality than more affordable suiting options in the first tier.

best women's suits of 2018: mid-range suits for women lawyers and stylish interview outfits for the professional woman

Pictured: skirt / navy / black / gray / navy

  • Ann Taylor – Ann Taylor currently has a lot of their tropical wool blend in stock, a “lightweight wool blend and is good for any season” — they also sell a polyester blend “seasonless stretch” suiting fabric, as well as (occasionally, online only usually). Watch for sales (historically they’ve had them early June), but note that it’s hard to go wrong with Ann Taylor for your first major suit. Pictured.
  • Antonio Melani – Dillards’ line of workwear is a solid option if you like the styles or if you can find them in the store.
  • Austen Reed – This British brand has brought back their line of suits for women — I believe they were recently sold, though, so you may want to consider this a “new” brand in terms of size, fit, and quality.
  • Banana Republic – I’ve really been liking a lot of BR suits lately, and it’s great that they’ve got a ton of machine washable suits — they can be very difficult to find! Here’s a nice basic option.
  • Brooks Brothers Red Fleece – Red Fleece, Brooks Brothers’ “little sister” line, often has great options for basic wool suiting and other workwear staples — sometimes with a cheeky twist; sometimes not. Pictured.
  • Boden – I normally think of Boden for fun suits, but they do have some more traditional options as well, such as this one. (Don’t forget to check out our recent roundup of how to build a work wardrobe at Boden!)
  • J.Crew – Distressingly, J.Crew’s suits section now has a ton of dresses and very few suits. (In fact, their Super 120s suiting seems to be on the way out entirely, but you can still find a few pieces in the sale section.) Their stretch wool selection seems to be the most basic you can get, but note that at the moment they’re down to lucky sizes as well. Pictured.
  • Of Mercer – This workwear indie has a solid section of suiting section with blazers topping out around $250. Pictured.
  • Talbots has been gaining in reader popularity over the years — note that if you’re hard to fit, they often carry multiple suit separate options in regular sizes (often up to 18 or 20), tall, petite, plus sizes, and (holy grail of rareness here), plus size petites. Do check out their line of seasonless wool suiting (pictured). (Don’t forget to check out our recent roundup of how to build a work wardrobe at Talbots!)

Investment Suits For Women

I also call this category “fancy affordable” — they’re expensive, but generally worth it if you wear a suit a lot. For many women this is going to be the first “splurge” suit — two pieces will cost you more than $500, but less than $1000.

best women's suits of 2018: investment suits for corporate women -- great for courtroom attire as well as a stylish interview outfit

Pictured above: pant / skirt / pant / skirt / pant

  • Brooks Brothers – They don’t seem to have anything terribly classic in stock online at the moment, but this brand is obviously a stalwart for women’s suiting.
  • Elie Tahari – This is the parent brand to everyone’s starter suit, Tahari – the prices are much steeper but so is the quality and the cut. They have a lot of stores in malls, but you can also find the brand at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks.
  • The Fold London – I mostly think of this brand for their gorgeous origami-like top, but they make a lot of neutral suiting and other tailored pieces, so if you’re looking for something different (or happen to be in London), keep the brand in mind.
  • Hobbs – This British brand has a few locations stateside, and carries a lot of gorgeous workwear, including some nice basic suits. Note that Bloomingdale’s also carries the brand. (Another general note if you’re looking for washable clothes — many, many of Hobbs’s dresses and suiting separates are washable.)
  • Hugo Boss – My admiration for this brand has only grown the more I’ve done this blog — everything they do is beautiful quality, extremely classic and stylish. They have stand alone stores, but you can also find that at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
  • Lafayette 148 New York – If you’ve got curves or are in need of cusp sizes (16, occasionally even 18), take a look at Lafayette 148 New York — the quality is lovely but the cuts are much more forgiving.  Their suiting pants are incredibly highly rated at Nordstrom, as well. You can also find the brand often on deep discount at Last Call and OFF5TH.
  • LK Bennett – This British brand has a ton of tweed suits and feminine suiting options, but they also carry neutrals — if your goal in your interview is to feel like a super confident Kate Middleton, this is where I’d go.
  • MM.LaFleur – This brand nearly went in the above tier, but two pieces would be around $600, so technically it’s in this one — particularly since the odds are slim for finding MM LaFleur’s pieces on sale (although you may be able to find them used for less money). The independent maker of the reader-favorite jardigan as well as some of our favorite sheath dresses just launched a suiting section. Pictured.
  • Reiss – This British brand is always droolworthy for me — they specialize in classic takes on modern styles. Note that their fits can be a bit body conscious. Note that Bloomingdale’s also carries the brand; also that the sale/outlet section on their site has some amazing deals. Here are two nice options (pictured).
  • Ted Baker – Another British brand that is fabulous if you want a slightly feminine take on a basic suit. They have a lot of mall stores as well, but you can also find the brand at Nordstrom.
  • Theory – The classic — but be warned, if you have curves you may have to size up here. Their traditional blazer is still available, but you may also want to look at the “clean” blazer or the “modern” blazer.  If you’re confused about the differences between the Theory fabrics or the cut of different jackets or pants, take a look at this post. Note that you can also find the brand at a lot of spots, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks.  Pictured.
  • Sportmax – This brand is hard to find online, but if you happen to see a store, do pop in — the fabrics and cuts are amazing, and a suit should run you less than $1000. (The brand is owned by the same company that owns Max Mara.)
  • Fun, trendy brands that might have a suitable interview suit: Rebecca Taylor, Tibi, Trina Turk

Designer Suits for Women

best women's suits of 2018: designer suits for women to drool over - corner office chic

Pictured: DolceMax Mara / Burberry / Akris / Escada

All of these brands are classics for designer workwear — when you win the lottery (or, hey, make partner after a ton of hard work!), stop here first. (I’d also call this “corner office chic”!) Brands in this tier who might have a classic, simple suit: Altuzarra, Akris, Armani, Dolce & GabbanaEscadaJosephMax Mara, Michael Kors, The Row, Saint LaurentSt. John,   Keep an eye on designer stores for newer brands with designer suits, such as Farfetch, Matches, My Theresa, Net a Porter (as well as sister site The Outnet) as well as the upscale department stores like Barneys, Neiman Marcus, and Saks.

(Stay tuned for an update to Part II where we look at the best suiting brands for plus size suits, petites, and tall women!)

Ladies, what are your favorite suiting brands for basic, classic interview suits? For those of you who’ve bought suits for women across the different price ranges, what differences have you noticed in quality? What pieces are the most worthy to stalk at sales and on eBay? 

suiting alterations for women

 

Comments

  1. Lana Del Raygun :

    I’m so here for the death of ankle pants.

  2. Two Cents :

    My favorite suit purchase last year was a J Crew stretch wool navy blue skirt suit. Really flattering, better than some higher end suits I have. Sad to see they seem to be getting rid of it.

  3. What is the deal with J. Crew getting rid of their petite suits? Where in the heck are petites supposed to buy suits?

    • Anonymous :

      Have you tried Ann Taylor’s petites line? Or Theory with some tailoring? Those might be good options if you liked J. Crew.

  4. I’m ready for the return of full length pants as well. My short legs need all the lengthening tricks available. And they are much easier to select the right hem length for with a tailor.

  5. Away Game :

    I just replaced my basic navy suit and had no idea how to hem the pants; we are all over the place on “proper” length, correct? I went with ankle bone length since I own other suits in a longer, trouser style, but still! I am so confused.

  6. Anonymous :

    Thoughts from someone who wears a suit every day, and has options from most of the price points above:

    For really inexpensive suiting, I’ve been super happy with my Merona suit from Target (I think they just rebranded it as “A New Day” but the cuts seem to be the same). Way better quality than you would expect for the price point. I also love my Calvin Klein skirt suit separates and J Crew Factory wool suiting in the budget category, also good quality for the price.

    For the next step up, my go-to interview suit is the Ann Taylor seasonless stretch in black. I love that they offer tall lengths, and the fabric is really easy to deal with and breathes well and doesn’t wrinkle easily. Banana Republic’s new washable suiting was a real let-down for me, their old lightweight wool suiting wasn’t great but it was much better quality than the new line.

    For nicer suits, I’ve been really bummed with the quality of my Theory suiting and have a hard time with Reiss suits because sometimes the skirts cut really short. I LOVE Hugo Boss, and just bought my third suit from that brand.

    • I appreciate the insight! I’m disappointed with my Theory suit and I’ve been looking at Reiss but I’m on the leggy end of the spectrum.

      • Anonymous :

        Yes, I love my Reiss suits but I’m 5’4″ and the skirts sometimes need to be taken down an inch or two for me.

        • Thanks for the heads up, I’m a bit shorter and struggle to find petite sizing so this would be great for me

    • Linda from HR :

      I just bought some stuff from A New Day! A skirt, shirt, and a purse. However, I didn’t like the one basic black blazer I saw, it was super long and had one button that hit low on my torso, which looked goofy on me.

    • Second Hugo Boss suiting. Granted, my thunder thighs can’t squeeze in their pants, but skirts and dresses are quite flattering

  7. If anyone is looking for an affordable summer suit, I highly recommend the Anne Klein separates at Macy’s. I got a blazer and pants last summer during some July Black Friday event for around $100 for both, and it is the best summer-weight suit I have. The pants are actually cooler than wearing pantyhose! Great suit for an August jury trial.

  8. I go to court on a regular basis but do not need to wear suits to the office. The options for budget friendly suits are dismal lately with the quality of Ann Taylor, Banana and J. Crew decreasing year over year. I recently bought a Talbots suit and am satisfied. It was the only option where I could walk into a store and buy the suit off the rack with a decent selection of mix and match sizing. The skirt was better than the pants, which were ever so slightly frumpish. My colleague with wife at top accounting firm said that is where she now buys suits too. Agree that for a step up Hugo Boss is nice option and the one I see most on European colleagues who regularly wear suits. I would be interested to hear if anyone has had luck with Boden suits as I regularly hear endorsements on the consistent quality of their goods as compared to other brands at similar level.

    • Anonymous :

      I haven’t had luck with Boden’s suiting, but I love their ponte and British tweed blazers as separates. I bought matching skirts to both types of blazers, but I didn’t like the way the items looked together when worn as a full suit. They seem intended to be mixed and matched.

    • Boden’s suiting quality is good, but they don’t carry tall blazers (only pants), and only a few suits come with skirts. Their pants are not cut for those with hips–almost all of their pant styles are very straight. So if that’s not your body type, their suits won’t work for you.

  9. Anonymous :

    Could this dress in navy work for a formal/black tie optional summer wedding?
    Would wear some pretty fancy accessories to dress it up some: https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/gal-meets-glam-collection-jane-tie-waist-midi-dress-nordstrom-exclusive/4935417?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=HYDRANGEA

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I really like it but it does not feel that formal to me – maybe the length seems a bit more day dress. That being said with sparkly jewels and fabulous shoes I do not think it would be super out of place.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I think it would be fine with fancy accessories. Pretty dress!

    • I think it depends on where it is and how well you know the couple/other attendees. I think you could dress it up to cocktail attire, not black tie.

  10. Rainbow Hair :

    I’m surprised by the advice to wear more buttons if you’re busty… I have a strong preference for one button — I feel like it functions like a V neck, drawing attention to my smaller waist and making me look hourglassy. Lots of buttons lead to me feeling the same way I do in a turtleneck, like ack too much fabric on my chest!

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      I agree! That surprised me too.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I love the differences among us. I am a busty hourglass and always feel like one button jackets just gape open screaming “she cannot do up things with more buttons because uuuuge bewbs!”.

    • I’m very average and love more buttons generally. When I was nursing I had to switch to one button styles because all the buttons made me look super blocky up top.

    • Aquae Sulis :

      Same! I look better with one.

  11. Does the Ann Taylor suiting ever go on sale?

    • Anonymous :

      Yes! They’re often excluded from the regular percentage-off promotions, but are part of the sales a few times a year (plus when they’re marked down end of season). If memory serves, one of the full-price suiting sales is usually in June, so I’d keep an eye out for the next few weeks if you’re on the hunt.

  12. I had a quick question regarding suit fit. I am a relatively petite woman, usually wearing around a size 2, but have very broad shoulders, making it really hard to find a suit that fits properly. So far I’ve bought suits off the rack and had them tailored down, but they never look that great. I usually have to buy something around a size 6 to get it to fit across the shoulders and then there is only so much the tailor can do to bring it in and still have it lay nicely. Does anyone know of a good suit for people with broad shoulders?

  13. If you live anywhere near a Theory outlet definitely try there! I got my first good suit there last year and it was definitely less than $400, may have been just under $300. They always have black, navy, and grey and they don’t change the fabric often so you can add pieces. In black and in navy they had three jacket styles, three pants, two skirts, and a dress. They didn’t have quite as many in gray, I think maybe two jackets, two pants, one or two skirts and one dress.

    Quality probably isn’t as high as normal Theory (haven’t tried that), but it is MUCH higher than at the regular Banana Republic or Ann Taylor stores I’d tried on before. I have had a dozen women ask me where I got mine, it definitely looks more expensive than it was!

    I think holiday weekends usually have the best sales there, I got mine over 4th of July. They had the full range of sizes too. Clearly, I couldn’t be happier – – I promise I’m not a stooge or paid, just happy with a purchase I had stressed about :)

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