Stylish Tops for Under Suits

stylish tops for under suitsWe try to keep our major shopping guides updated regularly, but sometimes they need a major overhaul — that’s been the case for our Guide to the Best Tops for Under Women’s Suits for a while now.stylish tops for under women's suits - stock photo of a young woman wearing a bow blouse under a suit I’m proud to say we’ve finally done it — you can check it out here. In the meantime, ladies, let’s talk: what are your favorite, most stylish tops for under suits?

For my $.02: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’ve always been a fan of wearing slightly fancy t-shirts under suits whenever possible, provided they’re easy to launder — I particularly like that a sleeved bottom layer means that my suit blazer can go longer without being laundered. I’d say my next favorite option is the popover blouse, like many readers have noted — much less problems with gaping! On the flip side, a cowl top is one of my least favorite things to wear under suits — they never seem to lay properly with the lapels. Similarly, wrap tops can sometimes fight the line of the lapels — and for me anything that’s too high-necked (like a crew neck or turtleneck) is usually not flattering, and requires extra thought to “lower the neckline” with a pearl necklace or something. The secretary blouse, as pictured here, has never been one of my favorites — too hard to get the tie just right — but it can be a great look (and it’s one of Selina Meyer’s favorite looks!).  Ladies, let’s hear from you — what are your favorite stylish tops for under suits? Is there anything you definitely wouldn’t wear under suits? Do you prefer to layer different tops under jardigans or cardigans, or can your closet do double duty?

Pictured: Deposit Photos / CITAlliance

Curious about some of our other major guides for workwear? Check them out here:

What are the best, most stylish tops for under suits, blazers, jardigans, and other professional-looking jackets to wear to work? Kat shared her favorite layering pieces for work, and we talked about style considerations as well as laundry considerations (after all, who wants to dryclean their interview suit all the time?).


  1. Anonymous :

    Does anyone else think that something a wee bit more formal that a tee shirt should be worn with a suit?

    • I think, based on past posts, she’s referring to nice, opaque knit or jersey tops, like the AT Easy Tee or a really crisp, simple pima tee/shell, rather than a regular ole tee shirt. But yes, not having links/details in the post doesn’t quite make that clear.

      • BigLaw Sr Assoc :

        This still doesn’t feel like something I’d wear under a suit. I can’t imagine wearing a jersey top for this purpose. MAYBE for a more casual client meeting, but in that case I would just wear a nice dress.

        • When I graduated law school, there seems to have been a bit of a “trend” of wearing suits and nice tees. But I think that’s not quite a good look anymore. I still do it on occasion but it never feels quite right or that fresh for that matter.

          I posted this yesterday on the main thread but I got these tops from uniqlo and am really happy with them for suit purposes (and they’re also machine washable):

        • Sure, I don’t think it works for everyone or every office. I think that where it does work, it certainly won’t work with all suits (some are just more formal than others, and even a nice, more formal jersey knit t would look out of place). It works in mine, but I don’t usually go that route myself.

    • MagicUnicorn :

      I think my idea of a “t-shirt” is not the same as Kat’s. To me, that is an item made by Hanes, FOTL, or Gildan, is most likely unisex sizing, and if you are talking about a fancy version you mean the kind with no tags on the back of the neck.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I have a bunch of the quality Merona Target Ts but they don’t seem to make them anymore. I wear them with suits but usually keep the jacket buttoned.

  2. Anon Attorney :

    I am finishing up my federal clerkship this week and beginning at a large law firm (not BigLaw, but Am200) next week. I will be starting as a midlevel associate (with credit for time served), but I have not been in private practice as a practicing attorney yet. As my start date approaches, I am realizing how anxious I am about the transition. Any advice on how to prepare/anything you wish you would have known?

    • Mrs. Jones :

      Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Paralegals and secretaries are very important and can be very helpful–be nice to them. Good luck!

    • Haha, credit for time served.

      Based on personal experience, this can be a blessing and a curse. The firm may be expecting you to function as a third or fourth-year associate already, which isn’t very fair to you. Find out if the firm is up or out and/or how your coming into the firm with “advanced seniority” will impact promotion in the future. It will help if your federal clerkship experience substantively relates to the work you’re doing in private practice. Depending on how busy your clerkship was, you may find that private practice moves at a much faster pace. Brush up on your time management skills.

      Finally, because I see and hear about this a lot from fellow former law clerks — forget about finding the “Answer.” You’re an advocate now. Craft an answer that helps your client achieve its goals.

      • I agree with January. On the one hand, you have had expereinces that others have not, and the firm will utilize your expertise to figure out what your judge likes and dislikes, and from there, you will be able to provide them with an edge that could make the difference in a litieagation involving your judge. That is valuable, even if you have no real litigtion experience. So go with it, and know that you have been hired b/c of your clerkship, even if you are otherwise new to sitting behind the council’s table. I kind of have both experiences. I have spent countless hours in front of the bench, so much so that I almost consider myself a law clerk for my own WC judge, since he pretty much copies and pastes my breifs into his opinions VERBOTIM, the manageing partner is very proud of that and he cites that to all of our new cleint’s! YAY!!!

    • Advice? Make friends and enjoy fellow associates, but do not trust them. Proofread and double check everything. Ask a lot of “initial questions” after you’ve gotten half way into an assignment and aren’t sure how to finish it up. It’s common for clients to forget to give you everything you need to do an assignment, and you’ll need to send them initial questions. Getting in early and staying late isn’t required, but it goes a long way when you are junior. The ramp up period is long, but once it’s over, things get better and sometimes even fun. Make allies/friends around the firm, esp in other practice areas so that you can ask other subject matter experts for help when you need it. Always be practicing how to communicate with clients. They are who matters. Not the other lawyers.

  3. BigLaw Sr Assoc :

    Secretary blouses, high-necked cap sleeve shells, button downs particularly without collars, popovers (esp. Boss – side zippers are excellent).

  4. Ginger in Tech Support :

    I am a fan of the Lands End layering t-shirts. They look polished and are thin enough that everything lays well. I also like short sleeved button down shirts, especially in the summer. They keep my suit clean but pick the style up a notch from a plain shirt.

  5. Anonymous :

    My favourite top to wear under a suit (which I don’t wear very often) is from Talbots, and it’s a fancy tee like Kat describes. It’s a thick ponte fabric and lies smoothly without showing lumps and bumps. I haven’t found anything like it since.

    I have a huge collection of sleeveless shells but I wish I had more short-sleeved tees.

  6. Dress Barn Jeans! :

    Surprise find, and I LOVE them. On the advice of this blog, I tried the Wit & Wisdom jeans from Nordstrom, but found that they have way too much stretch for me. The Dress Barn jeans are also stretchy, but provide the greater structure that I like. They are sized a bit generously, so, if you’re in-between, go down a size. I’m usually a 14 (heavy b*tt and thighs), and I have the skinnies and the bootcut in a 12. Westport signature fit. They look awesome, and I get lots of compliments.

  7. Fancy shirts are always in, but I work in office, where dress code is strict, and I use to wear neutral color blouses, one color turtlenecks and shirts. Yes, sometimes I risk by wearing bright colored designs.
    Xenia from

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