10 August 2007

Suitin' up DC's most beloved breasts

I am interviewing, and have a second interview coming up. At the first one, I wore a relatively conservative DvF wrap dress (Justin style, I believe, with 3/4 sleeves, knee-length hem, and collar) in green, black, and white, with a black camisole and sky-high black Michael Kors pumps. I could get away with this as the office where I interviewed was business casual and I am in a creative role (marketing/advertising). Also, I have no suits I can wear. At all. None. Got rid of my old J.Crew and AT Loft crap from my first job ages ago, and the suit I wore to my interview for my current position was cream wool and got dry-cleaned into oblivion, with sagging linings and shrunken pants legs.

Ah, but now I need a great, slightly casual interview suit, slightly edgy, that can be mixed up with cool, colorful tops and accessories as needed. Something not too heavy, as I am prone to a nervous sweat. I'm thinking a black or charcoal gray pants suit in a year-round fabric, but am open to suggestions... I am pretty tall and curvy, 5'8", size 10, with a 34D rack and juicy bah'um, and you know my coloring. As this is certainly an "investment" - but one I'll rarely haul out, in all likelihood - I'd like to spend $200 to $500.

Though I've built a reputation on this site for railing against suits, I'm not ignorant to the reality that in some offices and in some situations - a critical second interview, for example - having at your disposal a well-tailored dark suit is just as important as a face-framing professional coif.

And honestly, because this reader is one of my besties and permitted me to write very early on in our friendship a post dedicated to her "34D rack," there's no way I wouldn't take the time to help give this fellow fashionista some wardrobe-staple guidance.

Since this is an investment piece, clearly we don't want to shortsightedly go for too trendy a silhouette. The last thing you want to do is to plunk down $500 now, love it for a year, year and a half, and then experience a delayed brand of buyer's remorse one early Winter 2009 morning. To avoid this, I'm thinking we should opt for something classic, something structured to hold in the girls up-top (and the juiciness down-below), something well-fitted and clean-lined with a touch of attention-grabbing detail in the jacket.

I want you to be able to wear the jacket independent of its matching pant with jeans and other formal skirts and trousers, so it's important to pick something unique, something that ends at and accentuates your natural waist (i.e. sorry busty lady, but no trapeze or swing styles for you) and above all, something that is very much aligned with your particular tastes -- in other words, something that will elicit "K, that is so you" comments.

As for trousers, I think you'd look best in a pair that hits a bit higher than your natural waistline. Not the very "right now" super high-waisted variety, but also not the more casual low-rise I see in places like The Limited, Ann Taylor, J. Crew and on way too many young women in this city. A way-below-the-bellybutton waist-tab is for jeans and on-the-town pants, not interview trousers. A slim - not skinny but slim - leg is also a much more professional silhouette than the god-awful bootleg cut I often see in the aforementioned stores that successfully, to their discredit, woo the impressionable just-out-of-college co-eds through their doors by dangling in their window displays that familiar, "younger" bellbottom-y cuff. Now I know many women believe a slim leg pant is flattering only on a size-2 frame, but I beg to differ. As long as the material skims your waist and stems just so, believe me, you'll feel much more confident than if your legs were intentionally hiding amidst two to three inches of excess wool-gaberdine.

For color, I think you're spot-on to pursue a black or dark charcoal -- both are versatile, year-round and undeniably take-me-seriously hues. White is lovely but too seasonal and runs the risk of garnering that "other kind" of attention when worn by a woman with a J. Lo-esque lady hump; navy just isn't as fabulous as black (on a man, yes, but on a woman not so much); and grey heather, unless it's of an extremely high-quality fabric and cut, often looks cheap. I'm most inclined toward black, but then again, dark grey trousers have definitely been tapped as one of my for-Fall wardrobe essentials.

I should also mention, if you already have a pair of trousers you love and that drapes well over your frame, skip the suit purchase and invest the money - all of it - in a fantastic, showpiece jacket (Rebecca Taylor, Anna Sui, Milly and Diane von Furstenberg would be my top contenders). But then again, I should admit up front I'm a jacket-phile and this advice is clearly prejudiced by that fact.

A challenge I encountered in putting together the small collection below was that online suit options were not particularly bountiful. As such, I switched search modes to look mostly for suit-separates (essentially, trousers and jackets) and gleaned from these which shapes, cuts and of-interest detailing might work best on K's curvy body.

On a final note, I think it goes without saying that just like jeans, perfume or lipstick, a suit or suit-separates purchase, especially one this expensive and meaningful, should involve an in-person trial run before the credit card is unsheathed. Because keep in mind, "final sale" really does mean "final sale."

My silhouette recommendations for K's impress-the-hell-out-of-'em interview suit/suit separates:

Straight leg pants by Eileen Fisher ($198 at norstrom.com)*
Crepe pants by Radika ($218 at saks.com)
Taylor silk pants by Ya-Ya ($125 at activeendeavors.com)
Avignon trousers by L.A.M.B. ($124.99 at bluefly.com)
Scotland Yard coat by Nanette Lepore ($215 at saks.com)
Knit suit by Kay Unger ($399 at neimanmarcus.com)*
Jacket with belt by Tahari ASL ($84 at macys.com)
Lining out jacket by Minden Chan ($410 at ronherman.com)

*your editrix's top pairing


K said...

These are fantastic guidelines! I feel like I just got the ultimate (and chic-er) What Not to Wear treatment, and it's time for me to strike out on my own, rules in hand, to get that perfect slim pant and breast-holstering tailored jacket.

If only I had the free $5,000 visa check card and NYC stores...

Thank you!

Johanna said...


You're more than welcome!

And by "free $5,000 Visa check card," do you mean me feeding you Carvel cake while we oogle LC's wardrobe on "The Hills" premiere on Monday night?

Done and done.


etcetera said...

i bet that LAMB jacket would look great on you, K.

manhattan_darling said...

Do you do any professional styling? You're good enough, and I think you should set up shop!