Thanks to sharp lines, bold colours and the resurgence of the wide pant leg, business suits have made a triumphant comeback that goes so far as to trump their days completing Romy and Michelle’s “businesswoman special”. However, in order to prevent the over-the-top Working Girl feel, there’s some tricks of the trade to keep you on this end of 2011 and as powerful as ever.
Stark and minimalist may be the name of spring 2011’s game, but in order to prevent you from looking monochromatic, it’s important to dress up your suits through accessories so you can add personality and dimension to an ensemble that could otherwise lack both. Michael Kors’ neutral two-piece could easily have been khaki overboard, but thanks to a simple belt worn around the jacket, the shade was broken up and given personality. The same can be said for necklaces or even a scarf: provided the accessory makes a statement, regardless of size or colour, it can save you from looking too uniformed.
Power suits may be stereotypically recognized as a jacket-with-pants combination, but thanks to designers like Jason Wu, you can get away with wearing corresponding shorts and still create a dynamic pioneered by the likes of 1980-something Sigourney Weaver. Thus, provided the shorts are well tailored and of business-appropriate length, you can rock your favourite button-up blouse underneath an open blazer and embellish with a belt, brooch or open-toed shoes – or even wear a contrasting tone to capitalize on colour blocking.
The beauty of spring 2011 is the fact that unlike similar trends of the 1980s and 90s, it’s possible to combine a couple looks into one outfit to create an ensemble reflective of the season’s favourites. Marc Jacob’s commitment to the 1970s mimics Mary Tyler Moore’s trademark aesthetic, while Calvin Klein’s minimalist palette combines the pajama trend with power suits appropriate for office wear. Of course, it’s important not to go overboard: while combining trends into the ultimate ensemble may seem inspired, embracing too many trends will overwhelm you.
While “power suits” may seem limited to a neutral, monochromatic look, designers like Karen Walker and Jil Sander helped prove that what’s business appropriate for 2011 is personality and lots of it. Shorter, high-waisted trousers can be paired with a blazer just as easily as a trouser with a 1970’s leg, while a tailored Chanel jacket can make just as much of an impact as a boxier, masculine cut. Make sure to take risks and to maintain eclecticism, and remember that just because power suits once dictated “same old”, doesn’t mean they still have to.