Improving the Suit: How to Get a Great Fitting Suit on a Budget

I am going to start a series of articles on getting a great suit on a budget for women.  Today we are going to kick it off with fit.

I work in healthcare, which means we have people that now have to wear suits who used to wear scrubs all day.  Many of these people are committed to the idea of sets.  They buy the two piece pant set and the pants are never quite the right length for their shoes.  They either have high waters or they are dragging the hem across the floor.  If their jacket buttons, they usually have too much left up top – it looks like they need some football shoulder pads to fill it out.  There are also those that the jacket clearly won’t button, but the top part fits great.  Either way, the whole look says I have to wear a suit, but nobody said I had to care how it looked.

Buy Separates.  This is a good rule for a couple of reasons.  First, you can get the right length.  I like heels, and the regular size in pants is too short for that – so I always order longs. Second, you can buy both pants and a skirt which give you more options for changing the look. (which will be next week’s article)

Buy what Fits YOU.  Don’t shop for what your girlfriend wears, if you aren’t built the same.  Go and try on suits until you find a brand and style that works best for you.  I am a rectangle shape, so Ann Taylor and Theory suits both fit me well.  I actually don’t need their jackets altered, which is a win for me.  You should buy things that make you look good.

Money Saving Tip: First, buy during a big sale like the Nordstrom semi-annual sale.  I replaced my charcoal Ann Taylor pants and jacket during their 40% of storewide sale that they ran the week before Black Friday.  I then waited for their after Christmas sale, and bought the matching skirt at 75% off.  The key is to pick a fabric and material that they always carry. 

I actually find it ironic, that when men go to buy a suit having it tailored is the norm.  However, as women we think we should be able to just buy something off the rack and have it fit.  I don’t know about you – but I find that most of what I buy doesn’t fit quite the way I would like it to off the rack.

Get a tailor.  Use social media and your colleagues to find one.  We have a social media site for our neighborhood, and that is how I find mine.  As I mentioned above, I always order the pants in a long and have them shortened. When wearing heels your trouser pants should be 1” from the floor and with flats they should be ½” to 1” (personal preference).

Shop Consignment.  I am currently loving ThredUp ( They have a new with tags section, and I bought a new with tags pair of Theory pants and Jacket for under $100.00.  I have a friend, who shops the local thrift stores, and she has bought some great suits that were hardly worn and has had them altered.  She has a gorgeous Ralph Lauren charcoal pinstripe that she bought for $25.00 and then spent $25.00 to get it altered to fit and $10.00 to dry clean it.  So $60.00 for a suit that looked like it was only worn 2-3 times that fits perfectly is a steal.

As always, please send your questions, comments, concerns, or issues to

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