Just like midi skirts and flared jeans, the suit has been dragged from the outfit nightmares of my childhood and thrust, once again into the realms of ‘fashion’. Just like with the midi skirt, I have been unable to resist giving it a go (read more about my adventures with a style of skirt I vowed as an adolescent that I would never try because I didn’t want to look like my 87 year old librarian. Spoiler alert, I’m converted, hooked, obsessed.)
Last week I bought my first suit. It wasn’t until it arrived that I realised that I had balls ten times too small to even ~think~ about rocking one of these bad boys in public.
As a self-employed lady, and a very-chilled-office type before that, the suit has never been something featured in the catalogue of my life, prior to this, there has only been one.
In the summer of 2010 I was preparing to do my first stint of work experience, it was on a news desk and I was bricking it because not only did I not feel even close to brilliant enough to even attempt such a feat, but I was required to be dressed properly smartly.
My mum had sent me off to go and buy a suit for the occasion, with hindsight she should have come with me, was I sensible enough at 16 to make the right decision? I was not. I came home with a mini skirt and a blazer (bloody Zara) that I had bought because I was big into Devil Wears Prada back then and I could just imagine Miranda Priestly’s reaction had she seen me in the shin touching skirts on offer.
I got home, offered mum my measly explanation, she lost of her shit but it was too late anyway because work started the next day and it was too late to exchange it.
I spent a week in a too-short shirt that showed my bum cheeks every time I so much as sneezed and became blindingly aware that I was not nearly cool or sophisticated enough to pull off anything as sexy and grown up; thus, I put myself off suits for life.
Although, admittedly, the photos of my mum rocking the life out of shoulder padded suits to work in the eighties was enough to evoke the tiniest pang of envy for times gone by, I have long since concluded that I will never have the confidence nor the opportunity to wear a suit.
As a self employed writer, who spends most of her day looking perpetually scruffy and desperately frantic, the idea of peeling off my jeans (aka MY IDENTITY) and slipping into something ten million times less comfortable is daft, not least of all because 88% of my life is spent in my house, 10% in the park with my dog and a mere 2% doing anything that requires shoes on.
Ah well, here Instagram comes in. Thanks to the ‘gram and the fact that ~everyone~ is a fashion blogger these day (yes even me, who has taken to tagging outfits as if anyone gives a shit), ballsy as hell garments have been welcomed back into the mix.
The pavements are our office corridors now, cafes are our meeting rooms, all of a sudden, we are well within our rights to look the part all the time, we don’t need an excuse to dress well.
The idea that ‘you can never be overdressed’ is basically rule number one of Instagram existence.
And I’ve seized the opportunity with both hands. I’ve parted, in a move that has surprised punters the world over (lol not really but hey), with my trademark ‘jeans and a nice top’ and am embracing every weird and wonderful trend the world sends my way.
So here I am, with a suit.
Already I’m beginning to see the perks.
- It’s as smart as a dress but you DON’T HAVE TO SHAVE YOUR LEGS OR UNDER ARMS TO WEAR IT.
- You don’t need the ‘do I need to be wearing tights or will I be alright???’ panic in every month that isn’t August.
- You don’t have to worry about accessorising or whatever because HEY you’re wearing a suit what more could anyone possibly want from you?
- You can be bloated or full of burgers and no one will know because you’re wearing a suit and suits don’t show that shit.
- You automatically look trendy af and like you know what life means because YOU’RE WEARING A FUCKING SUIT.
So I’ve sold you on the ~idea~ of a suit, you’re on board now.
So what of the next bit? Of the bit when it arrives at your house and you think: oh holy shit fuck who the hell do I think I am ordering something like this there is no way on earth that I can pull this off?? What do we do about that bit?
How do you rock a suit when you haven’t got remotely enough confidence to rock a suit???
It doesn’t have to be all sharp edges and monochrome
When I think of suits I literally think of the TV show, more specifically of Megan Markle (literal princess) in a sharp, tailored suit paired with completely inconvenient heels (if you’re going to be walking anywhere further than to the loo) and shirts that air just on the right side of revealing.
It never occurred to me that in this new wave of do-whatever-the-hell-you-want fashion that not only did you not need the heels (Londoner’s can’t do heels like that), you don’t even need the shirt (if your breasts are bigger than a DD then it’s just not safe).
You can get a bright suit and dress it the hell down – put it with a pair of trainers and a light jumper and you still look about ten million times cooler than you ever did in jeans, without having to commit to discomfort or risk either a bum cheek or a breast making an untimely break for freedom.
A suit can be smart casual, it just so happens that it’s a little bit more smart than it is caj, which is fine because I’ve got about 20 years of making up to do anyway.
You know that feeling that you get when you wear a new skirt out for the first time and everything is great until you get about 200ft away from your front door and it occurs to you that it may be WAY too short? Or the one you get when you wear white trousers for the first time and it is only when you walk onto a packed underground platform you realise that they might just be TOTALLY see through? Yeh, that’s what wearing a suit for the first time felt like.
Thoughts of ‘what do I think I’m doing’ ricochet around my brain at break neck speed which is why I was SO relieved to have my sister with me for the first outing.
Go somewhere that you know you like to go and go there with friends. If you are prone to being a little self-conscious and able to utterly convince yourself that everyone in the world is staring at you right now, then this is critical. If you feel uncomfortable in something that will probably show so head out the door with someone that you know and that way when all the insane worries rush over you, you’ve got someone to tell you that no, you haven’t got a big rip in the bumhole and that yes, you ARE plenty cool enough to wear this outfit out the house.
Confidence is key
Yes thank you em, once again, for pointing out the bloody obvious. If I had the confidence I wouldn’t need to be reading this article. Yes, dear friend, I understand, but there are ways around this particular shortcoming. My top tips are as follows:
- Channel your inner Janice. (Mean Girls Janice, not Friends Janice) – that girl was so ahead of her time wearing a suit to her ‘prom’. Now admittedly I’m sure the writers of MG did it as a nod to her sexual orientation and the stereotype that comes with it but she looked fucking awesome. Who says women can’t wear what men wear? Who says we have to wear skirts? Wear your suit with the knowledge that you look just as smart as, if not smarter, than every man in the room.
- Would the you of 10 years ago be impressed? The me of 10 years ago would. In fact, the me of 10 years ago was such a bloody sheep that she was unwilling to try anything unless ten of her friends had done it first, she dreamed of having the confidence to, for once, be the first to give something ago. When I wear funky shit now, I do it with her in mind.
- What would you think if you saw someone else at the pub or in the office or at a party wearing a suit? Either a) she looks great or b) that’s a nice suit or c) I wish I could wear that or d) nothing at all. Those are the four things people will think of when they look at you in a suit
There’s more than one kind of suit
My super smart, super badass, super impressive friend was hanging out at my house yesterday and she showed me one of the outfits that she wears to work and it BLEW MY MIND. It’s a suit, but it’s also a jumpsuit and it was amazing. (We actually talked for hours about work and outfits and how hard it is for women to dress in the office, not least of all because it is SO expensive – this has inspired a big blog post so keep your eyes peeled for that one in the coming weeks.)
Not all suits are either black and boring or black and ‘sexy secretary’ these days, there are so many out there (including this green one that I’m wearing but I understand if you don’t want to take that to work with you).
Dress for the job that you want
Dress for the job that you want, not the one that you have. That’s what I’ve been told.
Even if you don’t have to wear a suit to work (hey me), there is something EMPOWERING about wearing one (to my mind anyway). I like the idea of wearing what the men wear and playing grownups and being smart and appearing to have my shit together, in truth that’s probably why I love them so much,
If you do have to wear a suit to work and at the moment they are doing nothing for your confidence, I guess the trick is to work out what you want from it. Very rich men have very rich suits, they go and pay very old and experienced men to fondle their balls and create a masterpiece, when they wear the masterpiece they feel like a masterpiece. We are well within our rights to get in on a bit of that action.
Here’s to wearing suits and feeling like masterpieces.
Don’t worry, be happy
At the end of the day, as with anything, it’s just a suit. I’ve stopped myself every other line whilst writing this to think ‘does this really merit a bloody blog post?’ but then I thought of all the times I have stopped myself from wearing those shoes or that shirt or whatever simply because of what other people might think of me.
I cared about how flattering it was, about how it looked, what people would say, how it would photograph and what I was left with was a wardrobe that did nothing for my figure or my confidence. I was permanently in jumpers and jeans, I always felt underdressed everywhere that I went, I was tired of never being complimented on anything I wore because it was all so nondescript that people could rarely find anything to compliment and it did nothing, ultimately for my self worth.
It was only as I started having more fun with my fashion that I had more fun with my body, daft as that sounds, I stand by it.
So getting a suit WAS a big deal for me, I felt like one of the big kids, the cool kids and I really, really liked it. It’s made me happy. So of course, that’s the advice I have to finish with, the blindingly obvious and oh-so predictable: be happy.
Three cheers Em for coming up with something SO revolutionary to end on.