Ask Allie: Styling a Suit into Separates

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Recently, I bought a black suit from Ann Taylor (the Rosemonde tropical wool jacket with their Signature pants). I no longer need a black suit mainly for work; thus, I need help knowing how to accessorize my suit in such a way that I look fashionable rather than stuffy.

You made a wise purchase – a black pantsuit is a classic wardrobe staple, and tropical wool means it is versatile, can be worn most of the year and dresses up and down with ease. Here’s some ways to style the suit as separates to get more wear and versatility from the separates.

ann taylor rosemonde jacket

A black blazer of this style is extremely versatile because it has a feminine, tailored fit. As you know, it works great with pants, but it can also work with skirts of varying silhouettes. For this ensemble, I paired it with a drop-pleat skirt so the volume is below the jacket, keeping the figure streamlined. A striped tee keeps this from looking too stuffy, and a pair of structured flats gives a French flair to the ensemble without being too casual for the office. A statement necklace pulls the ensemble together and keeps it looking modern.

ann taylor signature pants tropical wool

With such crisp and tailored trousers, you can easily carry off an untucked sweater. I chose this one because it has a trendy silhouette and isn’t bulky. Lighter-weight knits look more professional and give a sleeker silhouette. A medallion necklace adds interest and elongates the frame; a printed shoe keeps the look from being boring.

rosemonde jacket ann taylor

A suit jacket is a great way to make a sleeveless dress look office-appropriate. If the fabric is relatively substantial and not an obviously evening fabric (satin, sequins, etc.), a blazer and dress is a wonderful work ensemble. Not only that, it makes for easy day-to-play dressing.  To keep the black and green from looking too severe, I added a leopard-print calfhair belt and chunky gold bracelet. The belt could be switched out for a statement necklace, which would accomplish the same thing. I made this a winter ensemble with opaque tights and wedge booties, but they could easily be switched for pumps or even tall boots.

ann taylor signature trouser

Sometimes the difference between stuffy and stylish is the use of color. This is a pretty traditional work ensemble with trousers, but the use of bold colors adds interest and a trendy touch. I used the same leopard belt from the dress ensemble to show how it can work for so many different looks – the leopard keeps the strong colors from looking too graphic. You could easily switch this instead to leopard shoes for the same effect. A bit of shine at the wrist takes these separates and makes them an ensemble. I chose a sensible black pump as the shoe, but you could easily switch it to flats, booties, or a wedge.

rosemonde blazer ann taylor

A blazer like this can make casual Friday denim days still look professional. While this jacket would be great with a pair of dark crisp denim and a knit and pair of flats, I decided to jazz it up with colored denim in a not-quite denim fabric so it could even work for other weekdays in a more liberal office. A silky blouse in a print will add polish and a sophisticated vibe; tall boots keep the outfit from being denim overload, and gold jewelry adds a luxe and fashionable touch.

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A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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