Suit of the Week: Theory’s Strategy

Theory 'Kiersten K - Strategy' JacketiconFor 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.

LOVE this Theory suit — the clean lines, the salt and pepper fabric, even the little details like the full lining and the three-quarter-length sleeves.  The jacket (Theory ‘Kiersten K – Strategy’ Jacketicon) is $355, and the skirt (Theory ‘Joanie K – Strategy’ Skirticon) is $200 (both available for pre-order at Nordstrom).

Theory 'Kiersten K - Strategy' Jacket
Theory 'Joanie K - Strategy' Skirt



  1. Anonymous K :

    Love this suit!

    Unfortunately, Theory does not work for my hourglass figured. But, this has inspired me to try to find something similar.

    • Anonymous K :


      Small typos and grammatical errors always annoy me! (On my own posts, that is. Reading them on other posts doesn’t bug me.)

    • Tell me when you find a good suiting line for hourglass ladies. I have one great DKNY suit; everything else is ill-fitting.

      • Have you tried Classiques Entier?

        Am I the only one who isn’t in love with the sleeve length on the suit posted? They look a little long to be a true 3/4 length and just look like they are too short. I think they need to be 1-2″ shorter to look intentionally 3/4 length.

        • the sleeve length would bug me – I have really long arms as it is so I would feel like this was a fit rather than style issue.
          Also, I had one very traumatizing experience trying to squeeze my curvy hips/butt into a pair of Theory pants that has me cringing at the thought of trying anything of theirs on again – despite slimming down a bit since then.

          • agh, same exact thing happened to me. Have never tried on Theory pants or skirts again.

          • I have big boobs, tiny waist, and a curvy hips/behind, and I almost exclusively wear theory!!!! I am constantly surprised by all the “theory = stick thin” talk. Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but nothing does (I look horrid in brands like Tahari or Jones NY). I would just advise all to try things on! Yes, it sucks for online shopping, but you can find such unexpected fab things! Go theory — for my curvy bod, it really is the best!

        • I agree totally, love everything about this suit except the three quarter sleeves

        • Agreed re sleeve length, it just looks like she has long arms and the suit sleeves fit badly. I do love the fabric, and the styling on the jacket though.

      • BR’s skirt suits work well for my hourglass figure. Unfortunately, the pants didn’t fit right. I would also size up.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! And would suit redheads down to a T.

  3. Preggo Angie :

    It would have been *perfect* with full-length sleeves. Still very nice. Not that I’m wearing anything that fitted these days…

    • Preggo anon :

      Seriously. I was considering buying it just so I could fantasize about the day when I’ll have my body back. Hang in there!

      • Preggo Angie :

        I’m halfway there! You in hang in there as well! :)

      • Just been there :

        I feel ya! But for my 2 cents, you might want to wait on the fantasy buying just yet. I went back to the same size pretty quickly (praise be to breastfeeding!), but found that my shape changed significantly enough that I needed to re-evaluate what brands fit me best. I had always done okay in juniors-type cuts, but now, behold! I have woman-ly hips and bust!

        Wait 2-4 months after baby is born, then get someone to watch the kid while you go treat yourself to a postpartum reward shopping trip. See if you can’t sneak a massage in there, too–trust me, you’ll deserve it!

  4. Love it!

    Threadjack right off the bat (s0rry!):
    I’m in the market for a nice classic trench coat. I’d like to get one in cotton versus wool or the nylon blend. I’d also like one that hits above the knee as I’m on the petite side and a longer coat would overwhelm my figure. I’ve got my eye on the icon trench at J.Crew and the heritage trench at Land’s End canvas.

    Does anyone have either of these? If so, thoughts? I’d also love other recommendations in the $200 to $300 price range.


    • I have a DKNY trench I love if that helps any. It’s classic and fits like it was custom made. I love it. Maybe check it out?

  5. Right! Why buy something that is specifically limited it to short-sleeved tops?!

    • I must have short arms (although I don’t think so :)) but many sleeves like this just mean a jacket fits for me w/o any alterations. So I love 3/4 sleeves! Love this suit, btw. I saw it, browsing online recently, and wondered if it would get featured — awesome pick!

      • My thoughts exactly. For petite women with shorter arms, who are constantly worrying about whether the tailor is going to do a good job, or totally ruin the jacket when she moves the buttons, this jacket looks perfect. Unfortunately my bank account is on the slim side right now, but if I was out of school, I would snatch this up in a second.

    • I still think you could wear a long black fitted silk turtleneck or Michael Starz-type tee under a three-quarter or similar sleeve. I don’t see the problem.
      Great suit, Kat.

    • Anonymous :

      I hate long sleeves! They drive me crazy and always feel like they’re in the way. So for me, this sleeve length is perfect.

  6. Threadjack Alert (I had thought about waiting for the open thread, but I am too frustrated!)

    I am in the process of losing weight. Thus far, I have lost about 9 pounds, so about one dress/pant size on my 5’2″ frame. In total, I’m looking to lose about 35 pounds, so about 4 sizes. Of course I realize that I will have to buy some transitional clothing when I’m in between sizes, but I was hoping to only have to do this once. (i.e., I am currently a 10 and hope to be a 2 when all is said and done. I was hoping to buy some 6’s when I get to that size and make my 10’s work until then, and then make the 6’s work until I (hopefully) reach my goal size. I was a 2 for a large portion of my life, even as an adult, but medical and stress issues spiraled out of control and caused me to gain some weight very quickly, so even though I know it will be an uphill battle, being a 2 is realistic and healthy for me.)

    Anyway, the issue I’m having is with making my 10’s work for now until I lose another 8-9 pounds and can fit well in to the “in-between” 6’s. I’ve had a few things taken in, but that was starting to get as pricey as buying all new clothes and I really don’t want to spend the money when (hopefully) I’ll only be this size another month or so. So far, my most effective strategy has been having my skirts taken in at the waist (since this is far cheaper/easier to do for skirts than pants) and belting tops as well as dresses. I’ve also bought a small number of basic pieces in my smaller size. I know there are some people on here who have lost weight (Shayna comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others). And, I’m guessing you ladies didn’t buy new clothes with each 10 pounds you lost. What (free or cheap) things worked for you ladies when you were trying to transition from one size to another?

    • I’m in the same boat, with 25-30 pounds to lose until I fit back into my 2s and 4s. (minus 4 pounds so far – woohooo!) I plan on having some skirts taken in, and I figure that tops will be more forgiving of the change in size. Really, I think it’s the only way to do it. And my wardrobe is just more limited with basics that I rotate more frequently right now. Boring, but I really doubt people notice.

      • “Boring, but I really doubt people notice.”

        This. Or, if they do notice, they probably realize that you are gradually shrinking and won’t be replacing your entire wardrobe with each new size.

        A coworker lost something like 14 dress sizes recently. She probably wore the same 3 outfits with each new size and no one cared.

      • M in Chicago :

        My go-to transitional pieces were primarily dresses (especially empire waist). I found that they tended to be most forgiving in terms of spanning a few sizes. Also, fitted cardigans were my friend. They tend to look less sloppy when they get to be too big, especially if you can pair them with a few inexpensive t-shirts in the proper size.

        Regardless of how long (or short) your weight loss takes, you will want at least a few items that are properly sized along the way. Buy a few pairs of inexpensive pants in your size as you drop (I liked the “dress” kind from Old Navy since they were washable, looked professional, and were basically “throwaway” at their price point). Having a fitted bottom will keep you from looking too sloppy in looser-fitting tops. Also important is buying at least a couple of bras that properly fit along the way. It is a pain, but take the time to be measured and fittend every few months. It makes a HUGE difference in looking put together.

    • Well, I did the thing with having skirts taken in. I also tended to buy more skirts as transitional pieces, with the idea that it would be easier to get them taken in later. And I bought basics on sale and just had a fairly limited wardrobe for a while, at least in terms of botoms. (Also, if you’re not already on the email lists for places you like to shop, be sure to sign up so that you get all of the discount emails.) And I did the belting too, but as I’m sure you’ve realized, that only works to a degree before it looks ridiculous. With tops, I would wear sweaters that I used to wear without anything underneath over a button-front shirt. For part of the weight loss period, I also had stuff that I had previously gotten too big for, but could then fit into again.

      I don’t know if any of that helps, but if you need new clothes now to look professional and feel good about yourself, I would go ahead and buy a few things, trying to find stuff on sale, and trying to get things that look like they are going to be easier to take in later. And I would try not to look at it as “wasting” money, because in the long run you will likely save money by being more fit because you will have fewer health problems.

    • Now, I know we’re all busy people and don’t need any suggestions of how to make ourselves busier, but do you know how to sew? I have a sewing machine at home (I spent like $70 on it) primarily for altering – my dad, sister and I sew. It was worth it for us although I can definitely see how it wouldn’t be an option for most people. You could ask to borrow someone’s machine or get a used one. I’m not an expert by any means but slimming tops and taking in waists isn’t too difficult up to a certain point.

    • Thanks for the suggestions all! I think I will continue to do what I’ve been doing and maybe check out a few consignment shops.

      Ru, I have tried to sew before and it is ugly. I swear I cannot sew in a straight line. You’d think it would be easy (and I’m willing to wager it is for most), but I just cannot do it. However, even though I am a grown adult, maybe I’ll see if my mom can take some things in for me. She’s not a professional by any means, but she sewed my Halloween costumes growing up and now sews costumes for the grandkids (my sister’s kids). She still has the same sewing machine from when she got married in 1973 and it still works well!

      • I went through something similar recently, but in the other direction – medically induced weight gain (from 00 to 4) I had not control over :( Honestly, try goodwill etc. I got some amazing stuff there that I can wear transitionally until my size stabilizes and I can update my wardrobe. Tons of the same brands I normally buy (banana, jcrew, ann taylor) for pennies on the dollar.

    • How about ebay? If you buy brands that generally fit your shape, I think you could buy a size down and eventually wear it. (I once bought an Ann Taylor suit for $30 on ebay. It turned out to be about 5lb too small for me, but if I had been loosing weight it would have been a great deal.)

    • Anonymous :

      I lost about 50lbs once, and 4 sizes (size 18 to size 12). I found that dresses normally fit me well enough to look OK even when I’d dropped 3 sizes, as did sweaters. I did buy a few pairs of slacks in an in-between size, at a cheaper store like Kohls. I found the most important thing to buy in a size that fit was a couple of good bras. Everything looks better with a good bra that fits right.

    • 40 lbs down :

      As I was “transitioning,” I borrowed and swapped a fair amount of clothing. I am friends with many women of different beautiful shapes and sizes, a few of whom were pregnant or losing weight at a different rate than I was. We did quite a bit of wardrobe passing (we don’t all work together). It still makes me happy to see a few of my things on friends who will always be a little larger than I am but who are down to their “happy weights.” I bought some really nice clothes for my formerly size 10/12 figure, and it’s great that someone can enjoy them while I build my new wardrobe of 2s.
      Best wishes on your journey down!

  7. Anon in NC :

    Consignment shops have been a great source of clothing.

    • Agreed! I’ve picked up a few transition pieces for those times when I’m an above-my-average weight and need a bit more room. Everything I’ve purchased is in great shape, from brands that already stock my closet (and a few out of my normal price range) and are completely work appropriate.

    • Anonymous :

      Also, she could sell her too-big stuff to a consignment or used clothing store and get store credit or cash to buy new stuff that fits.

  8. Great! LOVE the sleeve length

  9. Love the suit! I may wait and see if it appears at the Theory outlet near me.

    Threadjack right off the bat (s0rry!):
    I’m in the market for a nice classic trench coat. I’d like to get one in cotton versus wool or the nylon blend. I’d also like one that hits above the knee as I’m on the petite side and a longer coat would overwhelm my figure. I’ve got my eye on the icon trench at J.Crew and the heritage trench at Land’s End canvas.

    Does anyone have either of these? If so, thoughts? I’d also love other recommendations in the $200 to $300 price range.

    Thanks! And this may post twice as my first attempt got stuck in moderation.

    • Anonymous :

      Have the Canvas trench, love it, amazing quality for the priceBUT
      – I am 5’9″ and it’s a good length (bottom and sleeve wise), so it may be longer than you’re looking for
      – I am a 6/8 and the S is verging on too big, so if you’re petite in both senses of the word even a XS may be too large.

      The quality is great, though, and Lands End is incredible about returns, so you may want to order it and try it out.

    • Anonymous :

      I love my classic London Fog trench, purchased cheap at a Burlington Coat Factory and frequently mistaken for Burberry. You can’t go wrong with classic.

    • Target has one that is 60% cotton right now, in black, tan, and plaid (in a few different colors). It is by the Merona brand and costs $50. I tried it on in the store and was tempted! I think it would be short enough for you.

    • windupbird :

      i have a michael kors trench that i got on sale from bluefly for about 150, and i adore it. another option might be the banana republic trench, which i think is selling for around 200 or so. love it in navy, though i wear a khaki one.

    • Check I got a Michael Kors last year for less than $100, and I love it. Also target-NYC already mentioned it, and I second the recommendation! They just came in, so there are a ton in stock where I live.

  10. Love this suit. Gorgeous!

  11. Agree with the comments on the 3/4 length sleeves! I am getting really tired of seeing them on everything–sweaters, dresses, shirts, coats, jackets…too much! You can’t buy any investment pieces with these sleeves, as soon as they go out of style, your clothes will look dated.

    I also have really bony wrists–3/4 length sleeves and bracelet sleeves are not always a good look.

    • 3/4 sleeves go out of style? I’m in my early 30s and have been (happily) wearing them since high school. And, no I don’t still have my bangs sprayed up.

      • I agree- we’ve had bracelet/3/4 sleeves for ages. I remember wearing them when I entered the workforce 12 years ago, and probably wore them well before that but I can’t remember. 3/4 length is very practical for warmer climates.

      • BigLaw Refugee :

        I don’t really remember seeing them until a few years ago, but I they seem to be sticking around longer than a typical trend. They are comfortable and flattering (for many), not just some wacky “let’s do it this way to be different” kind of thing, so I hope they will stick around.

        That said, a 3/4 sleeve makes a jacket look much more casual. I love that for my non-matching jackets that I pair with lots of different bottoms, but for a suit that otherwise looks formal enough to be worn in court, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The sleeve length means the suit doesn’t fit into either my non-court casual workday slot, or my formal court/meeting day slot.

        • I think what you wear at your wrists can dress the 3/4 sleeve up or down. A funky cuff can give it more edge; a pearl bracelet can make it perfectly refined.

    • love hosiery :


      • love hosiery :

        This…meaning full support for wishing the 3/4 and bracelet sleeve trend would go away. OR have more full length options as well.

  12. Love the suit. Is it just more or does this particular model not have much of a figure?

    • Oh Liz, you really are asking for it by posting that way :) She doesn’t have much in the way of a CURVY figure… and the “boyish” body type is what Theory’s cuts tend to flatter best.

      • I disagree. I posted above, but I am classically curvy (boobs and hips same size, small middle in between) & I look good ONLY in Theory suits! I think a lot of people don’t like theory b/c it requires one to “up” the usual size in BR< AT< ETC., but really I cannot subscribe to the whole it's not flattering to curvy ladies thing. I am a curvy lady! And, for the record, I look like a matronly aunt in Classiques Entier.

        • I have to agree on that assessment, I’m a bit of a pear and by buying an 8 instead of 6, I have great fitting pants from theory (plus I got them at the Nordstroms rack and they were a hemmed-return that were just the right length. That said it was an adjustment to think of myself as an 8. I think I might just start cutting labels out of my clothes and ignoring sizes.

        • Anonymous K :

          Well, this certainly isn’t my problem! I am a 6 and tried on an 8. It was huge in the waist and pulled across the hips and thighs. I am a glutton for punishment, so I tried on 3 other Theory bottoms. I’ve also tried on several tops. Sigh.

        • SF Bay Associate :

          I had to go up 3 sizes in theory before I could zip comfortably, and I tried on multiple styles with the help of a Nordstrom personal shopper. It wasn’t that I had to go up so many sizes that bothered me, but that even 3 sizes up, the pants still didn’t look good. Theory is not made for my fuller hips and thighs self, but congrats to the ladies that it does flatter.

      • Theory works for me but I have long/slim legs, even though I am a 10-12 overall. Friends who are curvier in the thigh and hip, Theory doesn’t work for. For me, it’s very flattering, but I size up the jackets (large bust) and down the pants.

  13. Coupon alert: is having a 20% off friends and family sale, starting on Thursday through Sunday – code FRIEND.

    Bloomingdales is the same – 20% off starting tomorrow – code FALLFRIEND.

  14. The suit is really nice, but too rich for me right now. Maybe when it gets to the outlets.

    I am in the market for some basic black leggings and maybe some jeggings for my days off. Any brand recommendations?

    • Anonymous :

      I have leggings from Ann Taylor Loft ($15), Old Navy ($8) and Target ($6). The best, by far? Target. They are thick enough and have a really comfortable waistband. The worst? Loft. They are so thin that if I wear light-colored underwear it kind of shows through. It is nice, though, that the Loft ones come in petite sizes.

      I have a pair of Loft jeggings and I like them. They are 98% cotton/2% spandex and don’t have polyester like some brands do.

    • hue makes some nice jeggings that run around $30. called something like “skinny jeanz”.

      • Ooh, I wish I knew about these! I just bought some cute ones for about $35 at a Guess outlet — not normally a Guess fan, but these were perfect!

    • BigLaw Refugee :

      Got some from NY&Co that I like. I am a petite, but for some reason their leggings seem to be a good length even though they are not offered in a specifically “petite” length. I think they were around $10.

  15. It occurs to me that the name “Theory’s Strategy” is hilarious.

    • govvie girl :

      That’s funny…. nothing like some wordplay on a “tropical storm” DC afternoon. Ha ha!

  16. Parisienne :

    For that price, I expect a full length sleeve – in fact two sleeves. And a little more styling in the jacket. The skirt is okay though.

  17. Were I working now, I’d snatch this up. Just the right blend of trad and edge.

  18. Just bought this dress from AnneKlein & can’t wait for it to reach me…will report when I get it. Hoping it will be an office wear staple…,default,pd.html?cgid=90495055&itemNum=104&variantSizeClass=&variantColor=JJD87XX


    • I guess I would have to feel the suit to know if it were worth the price. I was recently doing some shopping at Neiman’s Last Call where I looked at some Theory pieces and I really was NOT impressed with the quality at all, especially for the price point. I was seeing pieces that event felt about the quality/weight of a Macy’s brand type suit. Maybe some Theory pieces are different or better than others, but from what I’ve seen, I just can’t justify them even as investment pieces when often they are thin, a bit flimsy, and unlined in many instances.

  19. I am very tall and LOVE 3/4 length sleeves. If I don’t buy 3/4 length sleeves than I am relegated to the tall section which, unfortunately, provides much less choice than the regular offerings. When I add 3/4 sleeve jackets to the mix I find that I have much more selection when shopping.

    • This…I was just going to chime in with this. 3/4 sleeves are so helpful for tall ladies. They are more like elbow sleeves on me, but I love them nonetheless. And I look “model-ish” in them, not slopply. I do find them odd in a heavier fabric like this though.

  20. Housecounsel :

    Re: leggings – I am currently wearing Loft leggings, but they’re awful and I would never venture out of the house in them. I wear them essentially as pajamas. I have a pair from White House Black Market that are much thicker and much better.

  21. I am pleased as punch to report (though why would anyone care?!) that I’m moment wearing this jacket’s three-button, long-sleeved cousin, purchased from Calvin Klein in the mid-’90s.

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