Thursday, 28 April 2016

[Outfit post] Suits you, madam!

 Here I am, getting my Katharine Hepburn on. Yeah, the suit's new. As in, shop-new. High street. Not even repro. I'd wanted a suit for a while, and thought it would be good to have something conventionally smart in my wardrobe. When I bought this I thought the trousers would also be good for my holiday.

It's navy. Again. Sooner or later I really will have to go cold turkey on the blue.
The suit is from Next, who seem to have – without much fanfare – started doing decent ladies' suiting again. Their premium ranges are made with actual wool, and that's not something I've seen at the more affordable end of the high street in a long time. That said, this is from the regular line, it's a linen-look coarse weave, and set me back £65, which is pretty good for a smart new suit. One of the things I really like is that Next offer a range of bottoms per jacket, so while I prefer the Katharine-esque masculine 'slouch' style of trouser, if bootcuts are your thing they do those, and skinny-fit trousers, and some jacket styles come with a dress or skirt option too.

I thought about ways to make my suit a little more feminine, adding flowery tops, brooches and so on, because I worried that if I kept it plain it'd look like the sort of uniform some banks or building societies issue their staff with – you know, not the sort of suit people choose but the sort they get stuck with. Then I looked at photos of Katharine Hepburn, who wore a trouser suit like very few other ladies could, and noticed that she kept things very plain indeed, pairing hers with a white shirt and brogues.
I suspect that the Tao of HepKat would read, “When one owns a suit, one must own the suit.”

It occurred to me that half the point of Hepburn's look is the fitting/not fitting aspect. Whereas Dietrich's dinner jacket and bow tie fitted her perfectly and were clearly tailored for her, Hepburn's trousers and shirts were looser, as though cut for someone larger (though the perfectly-fitted waist and properly-hemmed length tells us that this is an illusion). Dietrich's menswear is her own, Hepburn's has a 'borrowed' quality. But Hepburn's are always well-pressed and smart, even while they're slightly large.
Inspirational as she is haven't gone for the Hepburn look, as I haven't styled my suit as severely as she wore hers. The top is from Seasalt; I love the colours and, again, I bought it with my holiday in mind as much as work. I did bling it up a little; my best Lisner brooch matched the top so well I couldn't resist popping it on the lapel.

How do (or would) you style a suit?

24 comments :

  1. whats wrong with navy? If it suits you, wear it.

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    1. Oh, I love navy. But lately, it's seemed that everything I buy is navy, and I'm dressing in my old school uniform. I need to branch out!

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  2. I think you styled it quite nicely-love the colours and pattern on the top.

    With menswear I keep it simple with the clothes (plain polo neck, or simple blouse) and then go nuts with one stand-out accessory (scarf, statement necklace, earrings, etc.). I think your brooch achieves this quite well with the suit.

    Blue is so practical-it goes with everything, and I don't blame you snapping this suit up. The price would be hard to beat.

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    1. It was an amazing price, I honestly thought it would be more. And the trousers are really comfy. I'm probably going to buy more from them.

      I really fancy a 60s-style poorboy top with this...

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  3. I had to read that twice. An actual shop purchase! I think it looks fab on you, I love the top and brooch pairing, it's just perfect.

    I am still on the lookout for the perfect suit. I have a few that aren't quite right - one vintage that has a too-short skirt, and another M&S 90s one that has a too-big jacket. I recently got rid of a boring Zara suit that I'd picked up in a charity shop. I really, really love 1940s and 1950s suits, but I've never found one in my size, in my price range. The right one might make me splurge.
    xx

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    1. You have no idea how guilty I felt buying something new. Not vintage1 Not charity shopped! Not repro! But it fits and feels nice and - confession! - I bought it with future job interviews in mind, so needed something not too personality-laden.

      I do have a couple of vintage suits, a 70s-does-40s, and one that I *think* is early 50s (it's a Printzess) though neither of them fit right now. Even so, I'm hanging onto them until I'm certain I'll never get into them again; as you say a good suit at the right price is hard to come by. And modern ones don't have the lovely details of vintage styles, though I was pleased to see this one had inside pockets, just like on men's suits.

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  4. Good old Next! I always spent my clothing allowance in there back in the day and I'm pretty sure the trouser suits were more than £65 fifteen years ago - you did well!
    Love the shape of the suit on you, the colour is perfect (way more stylish than boring black or bland grey). Your lovely top stops you looking corporate.
    One of those 1960s shell tops would look fabulous underneath - the ones with a lace front which button up at the back. I'll keep my eyes peeled. I reckon orange, chartreuse and mustard would be great colours to wear with it and give a nod to 1960s style. xxx

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    1. It's weird how downmarket they've gone as a brand. Somewhere I've still got a late 80s Next top stashed - I got it secondhand in the early 90s and was well chuffed to have something so swanky. They seem to have lost their way in recent years; here's hoping with BHS and Austin Reed going to the wall at least one British brand that isn't M&S can rediscover its momentum.

      Hehehe, I like grey. It's a good backdrop for jewellery!

      Chartreuse shell top sounds EXCELLENT. If you find them, I will buy them!

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  5. I agree with Vix, a shell top would look fab. I'm not one for suits as I'm big in the hips, long in the legs and small in the waist which is a nightmare to accommodate, far better to stick to full skirts for me xx

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    1. Hehehe, I always get small waist envy with people with your figure. It's so nice to get my suit and realise it actually looks good on my apple body. Hooray that we can all have things that look nice on our bodies, because all body types are ace!

      (I read - shouldn't have clicked on the link - one of those stupid articles on 'dressing for your body type' today. Lots of lovely photos, but the apple was in shapewear. AUGH! )

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  6. That's a really good buy Mim, and I wouldn't feel guilty if it is retail. The top is really gorgeous. I have a Seasalt dress, the only problem with it being that it needs ironing. Lots of it. Navy is a good colour and it is flattering. There's nothing wrong with it, you can combine it in so many ways. xxx

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    1. Thanks!

      I hate ironing too. I tend to wear all my clothes that need ironing, then have one marathon session where I wash and iron the lot at once.

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  7. I like the navy, it looks professional but not predictable. The untailored 'loose' menswear look is for ummmm waif like figures. Us ladies of size look better in tailored outfits. I like the pop of color of the top & brooch, not only does it look less like a uniform but it looks less severe like Hillary too.

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    1. Yeah, I've got to have some bling. What are lapels made for if not nice brooches? (And now I have a suit, I clearly need more brooches...)

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  8. What a classic, becoming new suit, Mim, and a stellar (IMO) price to boot. It looks fantastic on you!

    Suits, albeit of the skirt variety, are a mainstay in my wardrobe and seem to become such all the more as I get older. I pretty much always style them in either a 40s or 50s direction and am quite partial to wearing them with scarves, wither tucked or over my shoulders. A good dose of pearl jewelry often enters the picture for me, too. :)

    Big hugs & happy weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. You can't go wrong with pearls!

      I like suits more and more as I get older; they're an easy way to look smart.

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  9. It's a lovely suit Mim and navy suits you with your lovely red hair. I would style a trouser suit like this with a fancy (frills/ruffles/patterned) top in a very bright contrasting colour or colours; orange, fuschia pink, emerald green plus some killer jewellery e.g. statement necklace or the fab brooch you are wearing.

    I had two Next trouser suits a few years ago, bought for £5.00 each in a charity shop. I tended to wear the jackets more as the trousers were a bit tight and I only wore them as suits to things like conferences. I'm an apple shape too, and I've learned to live with it and love it!

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! My jewellery is often more interesting than my clothes - my tastes are quite minimal but I love a bit of sparkle.

      You got lucky finding suits in charity shops. Round here they tend to split them up, which is really annoying.

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  10. Oh very nice! Good purchase indeed.

    I have a problem with suits, they never seem to fit me right so I sort of gave up looking, I like the sound of all the mix and match styles in Next though I might have to check that out. Having said that these days I rebel against the suit, working in a business school where business attire is de rigueur and we have been told more than once to arrive at functions in suitable attire, I'm like stuff you, you can take your black suit and shove it, I shall be here wearing this floral flouncy frock so good day sir!

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    1. I'm the other way - we have no dress code at all at work so my smartness and diamante are a rebellion against the prevailing jeans and T-shirts.

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  11. You look lovely in navy and your blouse goes with your suit really well. There is something really cool about a well fitting suit. Think that you look very smart and cool in yours. What a bargain! I am going to steal the Tao of HepKat and paraphrase it to death. Xx

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    1. It's a really comfy suit, too. I just wish it was possible to get skirt suits with all those cool details you see on vintage Lilli Ann suits.

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  12. Oh, Mim!
    The cut, the shape, the color - you OWN that suit! :)
    Navy suits, unlike the black "uniform" or grey "blend in", navy still holds some individuality to it - and pairing it along some floral shirt and a delicate jeweler.. spot-on!
    Also, I must say: it works great with your red hair! Enhances the look of your face, gives you some "boost" so to say.
    Sadly (or not?) I've given up trying to find a suit for myself: pants NEVER fit me, blazers make an awkward shoulder-shape on my body, and I end up like a small boy in his dad's Sunday suit :)

    M.

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  13. really nice suit and I like the vintage pin. I just got a kathrine hepburn suit made by kim from time maching vintage its got leopard trim

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