When You Need to Wear a Suit Jacket

The world of business is becoming more casual and informal. The formal, stiff, 2 or 3 button suit is going out of fashion for all but the more conservative professions and organisations. And even those are loosening up. The power suit can date a woman and give the impression of ‘stuck-in-the-past’ thinking and attitudes.

So the question comes up! What do you wear when you are speaking, being a Master of Ceremonies, receiving an award or attending a more formal networking event? A jacket is called for but what do you choose so that you look a modern 21st century woman.

Here are my 3 tips for you – a Baby Boomer or Over 40 professional or business woman. Let’s apply some modern dressing skills to the formal suit jacket.

Add a Belt

This is a simple solution for those classic suit jackets that are still in your wardrobe.

Stop worrying that your waist has expanded over the years. Wear your belt comfortable but not tight.

Butterick Jacket 5687 with black beltIt is your choice whether you wear a narrow, medium or wide belt. The only way to find out which looks best on you is to experiment. Try it in privacy at home or wear the suit jacket to a store and try on different belt widths in the privacy of a change room.

Butterick Jacket 5720 & black beltThe second consideration is whether to wear a matching or contrasting colour. The best coloured belts for classic suit jackets are black, brown or beige. Red belts are for extroverts. The example on the left (Butterick jacket pattern 5687) is a black, medium-width belt which matches the black shoes and stockings.

On the right is one of the variations of Butterick jacket 5720. The model is wearing a narrow black belt over a patterned, frilled-neck jacket. The classic belt allows the model to be formal while still retaining her femininity.

Modern Jacket Closures

Kwiksew suit 3889 with hook & eye closureJacqui E Purple Hook& eye JacketIf you are looking for a new modern suit or a versatile modern jacket, look at a jacket that has a hook and eye closure at the waist. This keeps the formal look with a modern edge. On the left is Kwiksew 3889 and on the right is a jacket from Jacqui E, Australia) A rounded or pointed hemline also keeps the jacket from looking dated.

Simplicity jacket 1784 - zip frontJacqui E zip suit jacketAn alternative to a waistline hook and eye is a jacket with a zip closure that goes from collar to waist. On the left is one variation of Simplicity jacket 1784. On the right is a diagonal zip jacket from Jacqui E with uneven-sized half collars.

Simplicity jacket 1784 with buttons & loopsA third alternative is a half-revere collared jacket with an odd number of button and loop closures to the waist only.  On the left is another variation of Simplicity jacket 1784 with this design. For a formal occasion, I would look for something witout contrasting zip pockets.

All three styles create a smooth slimming colour across your upper body. They are modern because they all meet in the middle rather than crossing over.




Soft Folds

My W.Lane Red Knit JacketMcCall soft drape jacket 6611Buttonless, draping jackets are today’s modern classic style. For occasions when a suit jacket is required, buy one in a thicker weave material. Also choose ones that create a lapel effect whether from the neckline As in my W. Lane red Jacket) or from just below the collarbone (as in McCall pattern jacket 6611 on the right).

It’s your choice whether the edges meet, are slightly apart or drape down your princess line. Go for whatever looks best on you.

Choose a hem shape that flatters you – either straight or angled. Tip – angled makes your hips look smaller. Keep the length to a normal suit jacket length (wrist length if you are petite or medium height; fingertip length if you are tall).

Last Words

The modern suit jacket can be worn over a dress or with a knee-length skirt or tapered pants.

It’s always handy to have one in the wardrobe for those important invitations. Practise modern jacket dressing skills and know you can choose a belt, a modern closure or soft folds. Out you go now and shine confidently.

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