Friday, 10 February 2012

Waiting to suit up

The only suit I've ever owned was one I had to buy for a government job about ten years ago. I was in a hurry, and I ended up with a basic, cheap, black blazer-and-skirt combo from Zara. The sleeves of the blazer were a little bit too short, the nipped-in waist fell a little bit too high, but I didn't have the time or the money to look for anything else. The worst thing was that I had to settle for the skirt because the trousers that matched the blazer were too short. I still remember putting that suit on at home for the first time. I had always had a soft spot for menswear-inspired clothing, I had always liked the look of a woman in a well-tailored trouser-suit, and I had always admired female celebrities who wore tuxedos on the red carpet when other women chose to wear flashy evening gowns. And there I was, in that ill-fitting blazer, that horrible below-the-knee skirt, and a pair of black ballet flats.

For the past couple of weeks I've been keeping an eye out for tailored clothing. I can't seem to shake the idea that I might want to invest in a nice blazer, a pair of well-cut, slim-fit trousers, or even a 3-piece suit. I think enough time has passed from my first suit-related experience. I might just as well give it another go. And this time, I won't settle.

I went thrifting the other day, with the intent of looking for that nice blazer. I was really disappointed in the stuff I found; there were dozens and dozens of really ugly and cheaply-made women's blazers, and dozens and dozens of horribly dated but well-made suits. After I didn't find anything that would do, I jumped online. (I know my 2012 shopping rules forbid me from shopping online, but one can look, right?) The amount of blazers out there is astounding. I spent hours, literally, flicking through what Etsy and eBay had to offer, but I couldn't find anything suitable (pun inteded!). I guess I'm just picky. I don't want anything double-breasted, and I don't want shoulder pads. I have a specific colour scheme in mind (navy, black or gray). I want full-length sleeves, a good fit (not the type where the shoulder seam hovers close to the elbow), preferably a one-button low fastening, and nothing too short. The biggest obstacle, though, is that I can't wear anything that is clearly cut for a woman - those nipped-in waists are just hopeless for my figure. I learned that the first time around.

Perhaps I was overly optimistic about being able to find a second hand blazer that would work. It seems that a lot of older tailored items of clothing look very dated. I have more or less resigned to the fact that I might have to buy my blazer new, and well-tailored blazers don't come cheap. I might have to consider having one made. I'll keep looking until the right one comes along. In the meantime, I'll just have to be happy with what I've got: I can always team up some of my nice trousers with man shoes and grandpa cardigans for that menswear-inspired feel.

I'm wearing a thrifted Marimekko tee and thrifted Ril's trousers with a super old cardigan and Fluevog Beat Cassadys.


Roberta said...

I had a pantsuit made seven years ago, and I'm still wearing it regularly. It's a deep brown menswear fabric, three button jacket, slightly bootcut trousers. It was expensive, but worth every dollar. This is the company that made it - - they come around to larger cities, show you fabrics, measure you, and collect your check. A few weeks later the suit arrives in the mail. They're based out of Bangkok.

The best thing about the suit is that since it is made like menswear, it is easy to alter if you gain or lose a few pounds (I've gone in both directions since I've owned the suit). Men know this. :-)

I'm not really a shill for the company - but the suits in the stores are often just as expensive and aren't made all that well.

Sunjo said...

Love the Marimekko shirt! What great luck with thrifting!

Anonymous said...

I currently own two suits. One has a long stone-colored jacket and matching trousers--in silk. The other is a grey knit, with a different sort of collar, peter pan, and it buttons up close to the neck. I rarely wear either of them. Are you looking for work?

Shey said...

Unfortunately I think it's going to be rather hard to find a good citing 3 piece suit at the thrift store, just because like you said, most of the suits they have there are ill fitting and bad quality, I think you should not settle for less, the thing is, how long are you willing to wait? maybe skip over to another great thing you have in mind and wait a bit to see if the perfect suit comes along, I would suggest not buying online, since it's so hard to guess if it will fit correctly, even with the measurements,you know how sometimes the sellers don't measure their merchandise accurately. I hope you find it though. =)

coffeeaddict said...

My first real grownup suit is a black skirt/jacket suit by Max Mara.
I spent 8 hours in the shopping centre, tried more than 20 different suits.
In the end I went back to the suit I tried on first but was reluctant to buy because of the price tag.
It's one of the few things in my life I ever bought for a full price too. After 4 years I can honestly say it was money well spent and the experience has made me change my perspective on shopping on sales.

jesse.anne.o said...

Suiting is so hard. I really love the look as well but due to my body type, I never seem to be able to pull it off with the severity I admire in others. Thankfully for work, even for external meetings, I can get away with a blazer over a top/skirt.

I did just find a fitted blazer at the thrift but it's a kids' school uniform (lucky I'm small). The buttons are a horrible fake gold but I just unearthed a set of gray faux boi vintage buttons from my stash that I plan to have the tailor swap out.

Good luck in your search.

The Waves said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

Roberta - I am seriously considering having something made. Good to know that you've had a good experience doing so!

Sunjo - indeed! Your Marimekko-post inspired me to look for my Marimekko pieces, some of which have been hiding at the back of my closet.

Terri - no, I'm not looking for a job, I just thought that since I am inspired by menswear, I might just as well invest in some nicely tailored stuff. But come to think of it, if I do need a "job interview suit" later on, it wouldn't hurt to have one in my closet! :)

Shey - yes, I agree with everything you said. I've seen some great blazers online today, but I don't dare buy them in case the seller measured them wrong. Returning stuff is always such a hassle, and with tailored clothing, fit is everything. But I guess the good thing is that I can wait. I don't need a suit for a specific occasion, which is good!

coffeeaddict - I think you are right; when it comes to these types of clothes, it is worth it to make the investment.

jesse.anne.o - I have pretty much given up looking for something thrifted. I think you and I are sort of in the opposite ends when it comes to difficulties with fit; you're petite and I'm tall, and ready-to-wear clothing is never made for the extremes like us. :) Can't wait to see your school uniform blazer!

Franca said...

I also dream of a wellfitting suit. i have just one, from h&m, which is ok, but not brilliant. i only wear it for interviews and when I meet the minister. I always feel a bit out of place in a suit.

Madeline Quaint said...

I have an idea - why don't you try and make one yourself? I know suits are probably the most difficult things to sew... Have you ever tried? :)

gina said...

I love suits! I used to have a job where I had to wear suits daily, and I had a collection of about 2 dozen. Then I changed jobs and gained some weight. I don't have to wear suits daily, but I do wear them occassionally, so I had to build my suit collection all over again.

Amazingly enough, every suit I own now is from a thrift store (except for the 2 vintage suits from a vintage store). The Goodwills in the Chicago area have really had a great collection of suits lately. After my first 2 trips finding great suits, I saw a billboard on 90/94 for Goodwill promoting their selection of suits. Don't know if the same will apply to thrift stores in your area. Also, I'm average height, so I don't have too much trouble with pant and sleeve length. But just wanted to chime in saying I have had amazing luck lately finding quality well-fitting suits at thrift stores: Theory, BCBG, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Jones New York, and various unknown/older 80's-90's brands.