What to Wear Beneath a Suit Jacket

what-to-wear-beneath-suit-jacketsReader E wonders what blouses, shirts, and tops you can wear beneath suits…

I’m wondering if you can give some advice on the best shirts to wear with suits. I have to wear a suit every day for work, but I often take off the jacket at my desk, so I need shirts that (a) work under a suit but (b) are not sleeveless and (c) don’t come untucked (which is unfortunately the case for most button-up shirts I’ve found). Do women need to wear button-up shirts like men? If not, what is the best type of shirt? Are sweaters too informal?

Views differ on this, so make sure you observe others in your office to suss out the dress code.  Personally, I think almost anything goes under a suit, provided that doesn’t show skin. Still, some of the tops I’ve found that don’t work well under suit jackets include:

  • Cowl necks of any kind. They look lovely by themselves, but the cowlneck just never seems to sit right with the lapels of the blazer.
  • Sleeveless. Reader E mentions this one, and I agree with it, if only because I will do anything to avoid frequent trips to the drycleaner — in addition to being expensive, it’s bad for the environment, bad for the garment, and doesn’t always get rid of odors and stains (and sometimes seems to magically set them). Wearing short sleeves beneath blazers and suit jackets helps prolong the number of wears before you need to visit the drycleaner.
  • Tank tops. I know, this is Hollywood’s favorite thing to layer beneath suits — a skintight camisole. But in addition to being sleeveless (see above), they’re just a leeeetle bit too sexy for the office if you take your jacket off. Never, ever wear something under a suit jacket that you can’t take off — even if you have no intention of taking your jacket off during the day. Temperatures vary, and sometimes heavy lifting is required (particularly if, say, you’re a litigator reviewing boxes of documents for doc review).
  • This is a caveat that I’m throwing in based on the picture above:  I would not wear anything that hits below the hips.  I’m sure someone out there has successfully worn, beneath a blazer, a scarf top (like the one pictured), a tunic, or even done the dress-on-top-of-pants look that comes and goes out of fashion, but ultimately: if you’re working in a conservative office, stick to hip-length tops.  (If, however, you’re more adventurous than I, you can purchase the scarf top seen above at Bloomingdale’s for $195.)

I know one friend who considers square-necked sweaters to be the ideal thing to wear under suits; I’ve worn anything from scoop necks, boat necks, V-necks, crewnecks, and turtlenecks, in every fabric from plain t-shirt jersey, silk, merino wool, cashmere, rayon, and beyond. Personally, I don’t feel the need to tuck tops in — in fact, I almost only do so if I’m wearing an unfitted button-down shirt.  (We’ve actually had a conversation before about whether you must tuck a blouse in with a jacket.) And while button-up shirts can look crisp and clean (and certainly can be worn under suits), I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they need to be worn under suits. After all, they often gape (showing skin and breaking the cardinal rule), and ultimately are more difficult to care for than a simple silk sweater or t-shirt. In fact, if I had to choose one thing to wear under a suit jacket, it would probably be a silk sweater, whether short-sleeved or long-sleeved.

Readers, what say you? What do you consider the perfect thing to wear under a suit jacket? What do you avoid wearing?

Psst: Check out our Guide to the Best Tops under Suits!



  1. Lefty lawyer :

    My preference is a woven silk t with a round (crew) neck with short or long sleeves, but I can no longer find. Does anyone know of a source?

    • How about this?


      I have a couple similar ones that I got at Loft a few months ago, too.

    • I’m obsessed with these:


      Wish they came in more colors…

  2. Can no longer see this site at work, I’m getting a 403 error. Anyone else? Is this permanent?

    • The site has been loading very slow on Firefox and the comments won’t load at all. Very frustrating!

      • Kady, are you on IE8? I need to figure out wtf is wrong with some cache settings — need to keep them tight until Friday but things shouldn’t be *this* bad. Grumble.

        • I’m having trouble on google chrome.

          • I’m on google chrome (and I tried on firefox too) and I couldn’t see any of the posts from yesterday — all day! It was sad.

        • I’m not seeing the above problem, but the issue I am seeing (on Firefox) is that when I go to the website, I see the last post from Monday, but if I hit the home tab, today’s posts load, with comments. Its been happening on and off for me since Thursday?Friday? when everyone else started having issues too.

          • yep, definitely the cache settings. i’m going to read some more documentation tonight and figure out if there are easier ways to fix this — just trying to keep the website up and running in the event of a traffic spike. (i was expecting it last thurs., but it may be this thursday — if it doesn’t happen then I’m turning off the cache settings til I know how to use them!)

          • just karen :

            I am having exactly the same problem on Chrome

        • having this prob on a windows machine, in IE7, IE8, Firefox AND Chrome

      • Ruthy Sue :

        Some posts/comments seem to be available on the plain htt://corp… site, but not when you add the www. I’m using firefox.

  3. I agree with pretty much all that Kat said (I only ever wear sleeveless under a blazer if I know that the blazer is going to the cleaners before another wear.) I read somewhere that studies have shown that people take women more seriously when they have a collared shirt- which makes sense, I guess; we tend to associate the collar with high-powered people, so I usually wear one when I want to look extra-polished. I’m comfortable with them if I’m wearing my blazer, but hate the look of a tucked in button down on its own on me (I think I’m short waisted or something? No matter how low-slung my pants are, I always feel like I’m in “mom-jeans”), so if I think I might take the jacket off, I usually aim for a sweater. I’ll note that, as a member of the A-cup squad, gaping isn’t a big issue for me with button-downs.

    I think the best thing, though, as always, is to just try things on together. I’ve had plenty of shirts that I thought wouldn’t work with a suit, but did, and ones that I thought should be no problem, but wound up looking weird.

  4. “This is a caveat that I’m throwing in based on the picture above: I would not wear anything that hits below the hips. I’m sure someone out there has successfully worn, beneath a blazer, a scarf top (like the one pictured), a tunic, or even done the dress-on-top-of-pants look that comes and goes out of fashion, but ultimately: if you’re working in a conservative office, stick to hip-length tops.”

    I would add to this that it is imperative to avoid wearing things that are going to look like a big horizontal stripe right across your butt after you put the jacket on, which is what happens when people pair a shorter jacket with a longer top. I see girls do this occasionally and I have yet to see someone on whom it looks good. Maybe if you are exceptionally tall and thin, it would be fine. But if you are even slightly bootylicious, it draws attention to the one area of your body that doesn’t need additional highlighting. The jacket – then wide stripe of random fabric- then pant effect is very jarring and unflattering. Before wearing that trendy layered look out the door, check the rear view.

    As for what I wear under suits – mostly short-sleeve silk knit tees/sweaters. Jones New York has my favorite ones; they’re available in white and black at Macy’s. Wintersilks also makes good ones.

  5. my personal preference is anything with sleeves that is not a button-up shirt, but on the rare occassion I wear a button-up my husband is convinced I look loads more professional.
    I like non-sheer sleeved silk or silk/cotton blend blouses in the spring and summer. in my experience, these are easier to find in patterned fabrics which doesn’t bother me — generally geometric or abstract florals, which always pop nicely with a navy suit.
    for fall/winter i prefer wool/cashmere sleeved sweaters – have several solid colored ones from banana republic.
    I’m also a fan of tory burch silk jersey button-up blouses, they don’t get messy at the collar or untucked at the waist and they also don’t gap at the chest because the silk jersey has so much weight to it. i’ve only ever seen patterned versions, but some prints are not too loud. i have 3 total – 2 very demure tonal prints and 1 very loud fun print and i’m very pleased with them and would buy more if the right print popped up.

    • with the tory blouses, i’m referring to ones like this one:
      but mine don’t have patch pockets at the chest

      • AM I the only one who thinks it’s criminal to charge that much money for a top?!

        • i agree with you – i would never pay full price for one of these (despite my recommendation) i always buy them on super sale, if you join the tory burch e-mail list you get an invite to a private end of season sale every few months where prices are about 75% off…

          • quantjockette :

            I bought a very similar silk button-up shirt from Ann Taylor a few years ago, and there’s no way I paid more than $80-90, tops. It’s held up beautifully. I wish I had bought one in every color, but alas…

          • Again, I was singing Zara’s praises in another thread… but I just got two similar blouses there for $30 and $40.

  6. My favorite top to wear under a suit jacket is a silk blend knit, square neck, short sleeve top from Tahari at Macy’s. I bought it for $30 or so, and I see versions of if all the time in the suit section there (couldn’t find a link). It travels very well, doesn’t make me sweaty, and it doesn’t need to be tucked in. I have one in black, one in egg shell, and I’m looking for one in cranberry. Ann Taylor sells similar tops. Silk blend knits lay nicely under jackets and don’t bulk up either.

  7. I generally don’t like wearing button-down shirts. They never look right on me.

    I usually prefer wearing a sweater in the winter or a lighter weight t-shirt of sorts (professional looking, of course) in the summer.

  8. A cowl neck under a jacket can look good, if the neckline is not too dramatic. I have a dusty-purple cowl-neck sweater I got in the fall from Ann Taylor that looks great with a gray pantsuit I wear.

    For projecting a powerful image (i.e., not necessarily every day), nothing beats a well-fitting button-down collared shirt, particularly one with a covered placket (wouldn’t that mostly fix the gaping issue some people have?).

    • I also have a couple non-bulky cowl necks that look fine with suit jackets or blazers. I think the trick is that the fabric needs to be thin, so that it doesn’t look bulky under the lapels.

    • Agreed – I also wear cowl necks under suit jackets, although usually with those that have more curved lapels that flow gracefully with the lines of the top.

  9. I wear cowl necks under suits all the time – in fact, it is one of my more preferred looks. I am very busty, however, and the cowls expose enough of my neck that I don’t look like a stuffed sausage, and I think, frame my face so I don’t just look like a big pair of boobs struggling to escape from a jacket. I wear a small lapel pin instead of a necklace. I admit, it’s a little awkward with the collar, but I get tons of compliments. The key is that the cowl can’t be very thick or of heavy material, and the jacket tends to look better open. I also don’t appear in court, and most of my suit-wearing is for presentations or networking functions where I can be a little more dressy than conservative. H&M makes great, thin cowls (cami required) for under suits. I also do t-shirts of nice material (not thin cotton but something with heft, also often from H&M). With a necklace, no one realizes it’s just a tee.

  10. Old Navy’s Ruched V-Neck Tees. I wait for a sales and buy every color. I wear them under suits, sweaters, cardigans, wrap dresses, you name it, and by themselves on the weekend. I just wish they made in them in prints.


    • How low cut are those? I’ve been looking to get more v-neck tees, but I have trouble finding ones that aren’t too low cut.

      • Sorry if this is TMI, but I think it helps to know when talking about whther something shows clevage or not – I’m a size 12/14, 34D and hourglass shaped. I get these in a large and have never once felt that the V went too low. I actually find that the neckline is wider than it is deeper and ends up looking like a hybrid scoop/v-neck. The ruching also gives a little extra boob room without turning the whole shirt into a sack. With regular straight cut tees, I end up in a sack if I fit to my chest, or with sausage chest if I fit to my waist, so I’m a big fan of the ruching. The material is thin but it’s soft and doesn’t add bulk, which is another reason why I love these tees.

    • I second this recommendation. I love these, in the long-sleeved version. On me, the neck is a perfect non-cleavage V. I also love that they come in tall. I recommended them on a similar post a couple of weeks ago.

    • I own several of these because they go on sale a lot and are comfy and great for traveling. I would never wear them under a suit because I am rather large chested and they show far too much cleavage. I also think the material is quite thin.

  11. I very much like the look of a collared shirt with a jacket, but I personally hate all button-down shirts, because I’m apple-shaped and they never EVER fit me properly. So bye-bye collared shirts; I stick with nice tee-shirts or short-sleeved sweaters (or long-sleeved, in theory, but I’m always hot, so I’m often uncomfortable with long sleeves under a jacket). What I love is all the tops with interesting neckline details that are popular these days – shirring or lace or ruffles or the like; I think they add some nice interest when paired with a suit. You do have to check to make sure the shapes of the two necklines work together, though (and over the top ruffles or beading probably wouldn’t work in a lot of offices). I also really like tucking a scarf in the neckline of a jacket, which can dress up a plain tee shirt.

    However, while I get the dry cleaning issue, I also very much like sleeveless tops with suits. I have broad shoulders and large-ish upper arms, and sleeves under jackets tend to bunch up and bind and annoy the crap out of me. I find sleeveless tops MUCH more comfortable, enough that I’ll put up with extra dry cleaning.

    • Me too! I was feeling a little awkward since I usually wear sleeveless tops, unless it’s really cold. I’m just uncomfortable with sleeves under a jacket. But I never take my jacket off.

  12. I see a lot of “I hate button downs” comments here and I have to say, I do, too, except that I really love the way they look!

    The only solution I found is, oddly enough, from VS.

    They make a bodysuit (I know, so 90’s!) button front shirt, which looks classic and awesome & comes in lots of colors. A friend who always looked very polished & never “untucked/rumpled” in her button fronts turned me on to them in law school. I have a white and blue that have both held up well, though, admittedly, this was a few years ago and maybe quality has taken a hit. Anyway, at $38 they seem a great deal.


    • AnonInfinity :

      Do you have to iron it? I hate ironing :(

      • I do iron but I also iron non-iron shirts. It’s not particularly cumbersome (at least to me).

    • I’ve been eyeing those for years on the keeps it tucked in theory, but afraid they would look odd (and yes, I had the bodysuits, with the little snap crotches, in the 90’s! I wore them with my tight-rolled jeans and scrunchies.). I’m glad to see the VS ones recommended.

      • AnonInfinity :

        My sharpest outfit was, at one time, a yellow body suit with a pair of tapered black jeans. If I wanted to look like I just didn’t care, I’d throw on an unbuttoned flannel shirt and some Docs.

      • Honestly, I don’t think anyone can tell. It only looks odd with pants that are too thin to tuck into anyway (VPL — but then again, those pants are also going to show the bunching of any shirt that’s tucked in so . . . )

        And, I also was fond of bodysuits back in the day. The “in” thing to do, I remember, was to have a bit of skin showing so everyone would know you were wearing a bodysuit. So wrong!

  13. When not wearing button down shirts under suits, I tend to wear thin cowl neck tops or scoop neck tops (usually a stretchy jersey material) or silk blend tops – I prefer long sleeves or 3/4 sleeves under suit jackets, but that’s just me (i.e. I’d rather wear a thin long-sleeve top in summer under a suit jacket because the AC will make my office very cold). I love all the suggestions commenters are giving so am adding ideas to my shopping list :)

  14. The comments (and findings) on women in collared shirts are very interesting! I have always felt magically competent in a button-down, as if POOF! This collar means suddenly I know what I’m talking about! I own almost every color of button-down imaginable for this reason–during a confidence-shaking period, I need to be able to wear one every single day, for weeks! But I always thought it was just me :)

    As to what top to wear with a suit, I have a cautionary note on the suit-buying side: I find it incredibly annoying to have a jacket whose buttons come up too high. I realized too late that one of my go-to suits is like this. Almost no top other than a button-down works with it, because the lapels are so high that it makes it look like I’m not wearing anything underneath unless there is a collar sticking out. I wish I had thought about tops when buying the suit–lesson learned.

  15. My problem is related, but different. Here in Fla, hi temps are already around 80. I love the dress & jacket combo, but can never seem to figure it out for myself. For example, when I looked at all the death dresses in yesterday’s post, I didnt have a clue wc would work with what kind of jacket. I’m in a somewhat more creative field, so bare arms are OK, as long as it’s more of a polished shell and is not a lingerie look. Can anyone give guidelines on picking dresses to wear with jackets?

    • Corporate Tool :

      Sheath dresses look great with jackets, I wear my plain black one with a grey and black pinstripe which has black trim. The cropped straight jackets (e.g. http://www.talbots.com/online/browse/product_details.jsp?id=prdi25901&rootCategory=cat70008&catId=cat80008&sortKey=Default&section=Regular&conceptIdUnderSale=cat70008) can look great with a sheath

      The best thing you can do is wear the dress out shopping and try on a bunch of jackets at different places. I find that for unmatched jackets, Loehmann’s can do pretty well.

    • As I understand, the dress&jacket combo discussed here is a sheath dress paired with a blazer made of the same material and in the same color:



      Still, I’m likewise in a more relaxed field and have found pairing a solid jersey dress (knee length) with jackets of complimenting colors. Sometimes I fold the jacket sleeves up so the lining accents the look as a ‘contract cuff’ helps spice it up, so to speak. I often pair a dark purple jersey dress with a taupe BR suit jacket (one-button). Just tie the color palette together with shoes (focus on color) and accessories :)

      oh, I also think that mixing and matching colors in the sheath dress+jacket combo works much like you’d mix/match with a skirt/slacks and a jacket. I tend to prefer the jacket to be the lighter color, but that might just be me.

    • Just had to laugh (not at you) … “looked at all the death dresses.” Gotta love auto-correcting spell check!

      My advice is that they should either match (as in part of a set) or be obviously different (e.g. boucle jacket with gaberdine dress, silk faille dress with wool jacket).

  16. How apropros, I was just discussing on the other threads how I wear dresses with suits. Obviously, my case is different but I’m ok with the way it looks. I just have to own it and strut it =).

    With respect to wearing dresses and jackets, I’ve found that you really need a jacket that works with your body type. For me, jackets that end above my hip and don’t have lapels are the winners. I have only one jacket with a lapel and comes down to my hip that works with my frame but I think that’s because it really nips in at the waist.

    • Anonymous Poser :

      Yes! Both body shape and owning your look are key!

      I am so late to the style/image game. Corporettes are a big help.

      Has anyone else heard that the new name for the “pear” shape is “triangle”? There are so many variables in determining body shape…I’m having trouble figuring out what mine is. It seems I can nip my waist in with a fitted sweater or jacket, but a belt just make me look larger than I am. ??

  17. Alias Terry :

    I have a question related to this: why won’t the tacky “sexy secretary/librarian” look die?

    Just this past weekend I turned to face a woman in a great jacket…with the top of her bright pink lacy push up bra peaking and her cleavage heaving over the top. Totally killed what otherwise would have been a great look. This was not at club at night but in the grocers in the day.

  18. Anonymous Poser :

    I like button-up shirts, and find they go well with nice, dark jeans (mine are from Ann Taylor), but have recently noticed that they are too much for me under a suit. Even one with small lapels. I am ample of bust, and adding a button-up shirt underneath a jacket tips the scale.

    Good topic! I’m glad to see the recommendations for places to buy appropriate short-sleeved shirts to wear with suits, since it seems I am in the market for a few…

  19. I generally shy away from the button-down shirts as well. My shoulders are broad, and I think I look like a linebacker in a button-down, especially if I wear it under a jacket.

    I found some very light-weight, long-sleeved shirts at Ann Taylor Loft over the winter. They have a nice drape on the front, and I love to wear those under jackets. They are very soft and appropriate without the jacket and require few accessories. But the material is very thin, so I wear a cami underneath, especially for the white one. Unfortunately I can’t find a link to them.

    • Me too. Broad shoulders + big boobs + narrow waist = button-downs are pretty much completely out for me. I hate the way I look in even the most fitted ones, and always feel uncomfortable in them (too much fabric around the waist – I’m also a non-tucker).

      My go-to under suit pieces are short-sleeved knits in warmer weather and turtleneck or other long-sleeved sweaters when it’s colder (my office is always cold, plus I’m what my mom refers to as a “freeze baby”). The Ann Taylor Loft shirts sound perfect – I will have to check them out!

    • I’ve been wearing some AT twist-neck tees that work well under suits. Wearing one today, actually. They work well under suits.



  20. Echo all the comments about not liking button-ups; they don’t stay tucked- when I wear them it’s under v-necked sweaters or such. Which does work well in a cooler climate and you don’t have to tuck.

  21. I understand the idea of not wearing something sleeveless under a suit for cleaning purposes, but I’m MUCH more comfortable in a classy shell (not a tight tank top or anything) than short sleeves. I bring a cardigan to wear if I need/want to take off my jacket.

    • Agree! At least 70% of the shirts I wear under suits are sleeveless. If it is ever an emergency and I have to take off my jacket, I don’t think anyone is going to have a heart attack from seeing my arms. If it is so hot or I am lifting something that is so heavy I need to remove my jacket, I think any reasonable person in the same environment will understand why I have removed my jacket.

      • love.clothes :

        I find myself wearing sleeveless more often times than not, also. I’ve started wearing the dress protectors that were recommended on this site, especially if I know my day will be longer than usual.

        My favorite sleeveless cami is from Anne Klein – I own every color it comes in. I think a V neck (this one isn’t too low, and I have a big chest) can be very slimming.


    • I totally agree. I’m athletic with broad shoulders and semi-buff arms so I love sleeveless under a blazer. It’s the only way I can wear woven blouses/shells. Otherwise I have fit problems through the shoulders and upper arms, which leads to bunching under the blazer sleeve. It’s uncomfortable and looks awkward.

      However, I will note that I work in health care administration, not law, so no one is going to have a panic attack if I take off my jacket and they see OMG ARMS! Also, those new “clinical strength” antiperspirants are a must.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who hates the Hollywood “tight camisole under a blazer look”. It just doesn’t convey authority in any way, shape or form.

  22. ElevenElle :

    What about print vs. solids under a suit?

    • AnonInfinity :

      I love prints under suits! It adds so much more interest.

      • Ditto! I have a blouse with purple big polka dots on it that looks awesome with suits. :)

        • love.clothes :

          Will you ever wear a print under a pinstriped suit? Or is it too much pattern?

          • I love prints under a suit. I prefer a large, colorful print under conservative suits, including pinstripe, navy, etc.
            http://www.anntaylorloft.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=31013&N=1200005&pCategoryId=3359&categoryId=204&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_204&loc=TN&gridSize=sm&showAll=true&defaultColor=Raspberry Ice&defaultSizeType=Regular

            I also like ruffles under a jacket instead of print. Because I have a large chest, I generally do not wear shirts that have ruffles around the chest only, but I would wear something like this under a khaki suit:
            http://www.anntaylorloft.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=31001&N=1200005&pCategoryId=3359&categoryId=204&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_204&loc=TN&gridSize=sm&showAll=true&defaultColor=Strawberry Red&defaultSizeType=Regular

            I am very happy to see the trend of printed cardigans and particularly like them over a sheath:

          • AnonInfinity :

            Yes. I treat a pinstripe as a neutral that I can wear anything with. But all of the pinstripes I own are very subtle.

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  23. this thread is so full of great tips that i am bookmarking it! You ladies rock!!

  24. I bought a light yellow tee shirt to wear with my charcoal suit on Kat’s suggestion of pairing yellow with gray. I’m wearing it today, and love the spring look, so thanks for the idea!

    This is the shirt: http://www.thelimited.com/detail/basic-scoopneck-tee/5051358 I have it in a couple of colors now. It’s a little thin, but not too see-through if you’re wearing neutral-color underthings. Probably won’t last through too many seasons of heavy wear, but for the price, that’s okay–it allows me to update my colors with the trends anyway. They seem to reinvent this particular shirt in the season’s colors every few months.

  25. I wear all sorts of things under suits… blouses, button downs, etc.

    I try to stay away from matchy-matchy colors. So grey suit, no grey looking (even blue grey) tops. I also stay away from wrap tops. Although wrap dresses/tops look good on me, it sometimes looks weird with a jacket.

    some folks in my area actually don’t wear anything under suit jackets, and I think that’s totally weird.

  26. I’m about to graduate and start working, and I was wondering how many tops, on average, you all own! I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing the same thing all the time, but I’m also going to have limited closet space…

    • Hmmm… 8 sweater-ish tops, maybe 12-15 blouses? Plus some work-appropriate t-shirts… definitely more than I need :)
      Don’t sweat it. Start with maybe 5 and build your collection over time. Ann Taylor and Banana Republic sale racks are a great place to start building a collection – you can often get tops for around $20.

    • Lefty lawyer :

      When I started out I had 5 work outfits, and it was fine. If the tops require dry cleaning, you’ll probably need a couple more. I have no idea how many tops I have now, over 30 years later.

    • Don’t build a total wardrobe before you start. Your particular office culture will inform you over time what you need, and it’s almost impossible to know that beforehand.

      • I agree about not buying a ton before you start. I would also try to stay pretty neutral for the first few tops because they will give you more flexibility in the beginning-maybe a white, ivory, black, pastel blue, etc. Vibrant colors can be fairly memorable, so people may notice if you wear the same red shirt every week. If you love the shirt and want people to notice, then it’s fine. If you are trying to fly a little below the radar before showing your style, neutrals are best.

    • yes 5 for winter/colder seasons, and 5 for summer/warmer seasons should be fine. i agree — keep with the neutrals until you are ready to start asserting your personality. which might take a long time! one of the hardest things will be seeing awesome stuff you can’t “wear to work” and having no time to do much else. it gets hard to justify spending a lot of money on “play” clothes. as a result, many women wind up looking pretty frumpy on the weekends. it’s a constant battle of identities and expenditures.

  27. Ditto to not liking button up shirts under suits. I am busty, and all that material ends up feeling and looking bulky. When I expressed this to a Brooks Brothers associate, she basically argued with me about it and insisted that it was what I *should* be wearing as an attorney. Um no. I like short sleeve, slightly fitted (square neck is good too) shells that I dont have to tuck in, so they hit about hip high. Surprisingly hard to find good ones!

    Does anyone remember Casual Corner (faux) silk button down shirts? I loved those back in the day.

    • So funny that you ask about Casual Corner. Last week I wore a black jacket from Petite Sophisicate, and I received so many compliments. It made me miss those stores.

    • yes – and i know it sounds stupid but check in with places like “dress barn” once in a while. i’m an attorney also and i have picked up some funky suits with a peplum or other odd detail that captures a jury and shakes up the courtroom doldrums of navy, black, and gray. but use this advice in moderation!

  28. I wear short sleeve silk or wool sweaters and a nice silk scarf to add color and to look more professional and pulled together. I also wear button up shirts, but only fitted ones that I don’t have to tuck in. Thomas Pink have beautiful, fitted button up shirts.

  29. Chico’s makes great half- and 3/4-sleeve solid color t-shirts to wear under suits. I always feel funny shopping there, because I’m in my 20s and the store is really not aimed at me, but the t-shirts are the best I’ve found for under suits: conservative, flattering, and thick enough that bras don’t show even under the light colors. They’re also very comfortable.

  30. kate is right on – Macy’s has a square neck Tahari cap-sleeve “sweater” that is perfect. Can’t find it online but just bought one there a couple of weeks ago in the suit section. I do not like silk – i get sweaty in silk. This is a perpetual pain in the neck problem. I am so glad to see I am not alone with this dilemma.

  31. The suit jackets are so tailored these days, I’m just not comfortable wearing sleeves underneath because they restrict my movement. A simple scoop-neck tank top is pretty much all I ever wear. Like this one: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/majestic-knit-tank/3216253?origin=category&resultback=154