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Suggestions for high quality office clothes for women?

IHaveNoNiceClothes

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The whole women’s business suit thing sort of baffles me as it seems the goal is to look like a traditional men’s business suit without looking like a traditional men’s business suit. To me, and it’s probably just me, they therefore have a bit of awkwardness about the design as they aren’t sure if their fish or fowl and try to be a bit of both. Male and traditional and yet still feminine.
Believe me, it baffles me too - if you ever google or pinterest "women's professional attire," the results you'll get are completely confusing. I would say it breaks down to:
- 40% clearly streetwear and not professional attire at all
- 30% ridiculous "sexy secretary"
- 10% mother-of-the-bride/fancy garden tea party
- 10% prep school
- 9% "English Manor Horsey Outfit"

What women actually wear in the office seems like a combination of what older teachers and secretaries stereotypically wear (think Chicos), Pam's bland outfits in "The Office," or once in awhile, a gorgeous business suit that looks feminine and powerful and conservative at the same time (the coveted 1%)
 
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jaxenro

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I think you are on your way to the 1%

I could probably help more if I actually went into the office to see what women are wearing but I try to limit that to once or twice a year
 

jaxenro

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So I was thinking about the BB Loro Piana Wool Blazer. Since it is a feminine take on the men's version, which itself traces it's roots to the naval officers uniform, why not wear it in a similar manner?

Pair it with a white silk blouse, mid gray slacks, black pumps, a thin black belt with a gold buckle, and some discrete gold jewelry to accent the gold in the buttons and I think it would look quite sharp, feminine, and professional. For an additional touch maybe a colorful silk scarf around the neck under the jacket in place of the traditional men's tie plus to break up the monochrome look the outfit would have.
 

IHaveNoNiceClothes

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Over the weekend, I visited both Kate Spade and Tory Burch stores next to each other, as well as a boutique with a good selection of Equipment, so I would take the opportunity to review some silk blouses. The women's professional clothing blogs like corporette put these three brands together in the bucket of "upgrading some items," two steps above Zara and H&M, one step above mall stores like Ann Taylor and BR, and one step below "getting fancy" (in which they put Hugo Boss, St. John and Armani into one category :eek:! - and no mention of my beloved Paul Stuart - but I digress).

I tried charmeuse, crepe de chine, and silk twill from Equipment, Kate Spade and Tory Burch. These silks are very different, and not all were offered, so it's a little bit like apples to oranges.

Equipment (not shown because the retail lady was constantly checking on me - I think I was underdressed for the store) was good quality. I tried their "essential tie neck shirt." The silk was thick and luxurious like charmeuse is supposed to be (think thick shiny liquidy silk like satin). Good seams. The main problem was that the charmeuse stuck to me in ripples like glue and was super staticky. I tried two different camisoles underneath (100% cotton and one a nylon/spandex blend) and neither of it made much of a difference. Too bad because the fabric was really heavy and lux.

Next - Kate Spade, which only had crepe de chine silk. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the quality/construction of the piece. Decent seems, no loose ends, the black floral stuff was attached with tiny even impressive stitches. All of KSNY's blouses seem to be thin, slightly sheer crepe de chine fabric, no other types of silk options available. This one happened to be on sale, and over all it was good for the sale price, and exceeded my expectations for KS. I was wearing a nude camisole underneath so it worked for me, but I would never wear it with just a bra due to the sheerness, and also I was a little concerned it would be very chilly in my office. Silk felt like it could have been silk or a really nice polyester.

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IHaveNoNiceClothes

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Tory Burch - They did not have any charmese but did have a crepe de chine "Jess" blouse and the silk twill blouse shown below (can't remember the name). The crepe de chine "Jess" blouse (not shown) was same in retail price as the kate spade blouse, same finishing, fabric similarly thin and transparent (it wasn't on sale). I wasn't blown away but maybe I just dislike crepe de chine.

This other blouse shown below however did blow me away. Maybe because it's the first time I've worn silk twill before. This weave gave it the perfect thickness and slight stiffness to make the dress shirt work, while still maintaining the drape and feel of silk. The construction was also superior to any kind of blouse I've ever worn before. Particularly the way they did the double layer in the front for the button up - I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but the buttons don't show because there is an additional layer on top, and there was a strip along under the buttons to reinforce that. It's a wonderful feature on women's button up shirts because we tend to have the boob-stretch problem. Unfortunately this this particular shirt was too damn loud. However, I was so impressed I ordered a plain ivory silk twill Tory Burch online.

Also, as a side note, I tried the Tory Burch Kendra cardigan and I was also blown away by the quality - first time I've ever tried a cardigan that had both facing and interior lining (and perhaps even interfacing inside the lining). Unfortunately it didn't fit my chest area right, but I was so impressed. The prices were higher than KS and Equipment but damn.


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IHaveNoNiceClothes

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My worries with the slightly-sheer crepe de chine blouse also reminded me of this "women's work wear advice" article: https://www.xojane.com/clothes/do-dont-wear-shear-shirt-work

"Don't wear completely sheer clothes to work" says the author who wore a see through Isabel Marant top to work with black bra and tux. No shit sherlock. I am a little depressed that this needed to be said. Such is the status of the general confusion re: women's professional attire though.
 

jaxenro

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It’s just the sexy secretary look I remember one who at least twice a week wore a blouse where the bra showed through but none of us men complained

A bit sad isn’t it?
 

eremita

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Hi all, like the original poster I too am constantly on the hunt for office-appropriate womenswear that is constructed as well as some of the gorgeous menswear out there. I struggle especially because my office is like an igloo and I’m not comfortable in skirts or dresses. Last year I had a suit made by Masciangelo - expensive (mostly due to my fabric choice) but it’s held up very well and I get a lot of compliments on it. Trouble is I had the blazer made a little too close fitting and I’ve gotten a bit bigger and so it’s not in heavy rotation right now. I’m a few months pregnant and am starting to panic about what I’m going to do about the clothes. Seems a lot of women do the dress thing for comfort and because it’s easier. I’d welcome any suggestions if you’ve got them!
 

theparody

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This is such a wonderful thread because I too have noticed that my wife has slowly begun to ask me more and more questions about professional work wear. Unfortunately, she cannot find the same level of fabrics or craftsmanship in women's work attire as in men's. I was surprised by the amount synthetic fibers used in "quality" women's wear. Currently, she is on the hunt for natural-waisted pants but is having a very difficult time finding them. I recommended we design a pair on luxire.com. She has yet to take up the offer.
 

eremita

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This is such a wonderful thread because I too have noticed that my wife has slowly begun to ask me more and more questions about professional work wear. Unfortunately, she cannot find the same level of fabrics or craftsmanship in women's work attire as in men's. I was surprised by the amount synthetic fibers used in "quality" women's wear. Currently, she is on the hunt for natural-waisted pants but is having a very difficult time finding them. I recommended we design a pair on luxire.com. She has yet to take up the offer.
Oooh those wool cashmere blazers from Luxire are gorgeous! I’m not familiar with this service - they will make women’s pieces?
 

theparody

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Oooh those wool cashmere blazers from Luxire are gorgeous! I’m not familiar with this service - they will make women’s pieces?
I am not aware if they make women's blazers, however, they are receptive to email questions despite being shutdown right now.
 

Panama

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Come on Marc, where are your petticoat pics?
 

Phileas Fogg

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@Marc327 , please comment on stylistic and points of supreme elegance when compared to Fredericks of Hollywood. Much obliged.
 

Paris-62

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Why don’t you try to buy second hand chothes ? It’s easy to find excellent quality for a small fraction of the retail price and if it dose not suit you, you just resell them.
 

Panama

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Why don’t you try to buy second hand chothes ? It’s easy to find excellent quality for a small fraction of the retail price and if it dose not suit you, you just resell them.
I believe my local crematorium sells preloved clothes....
 

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