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Tue Jun 26, 2012, 08:34 PM

Why can't women find a "power suit"?

You know... the kind that says "I'm here to kick ass and take names".

I had a business meeting today (sales meeting) and the clothes really indicate your status. I was the only woman (of 7 of us) and I knew that the men (5 salesmen and 1 Manager of the Business Analysts) would be dressed in suits and ties. So, I set out to find a business suit... one that said "I'm a Senior Technical Analyst" and not "I'm the note taker". We went to Beall's, JcPenney (3 of them), Burlington Coat Factory, a Sears, and two Macy's stores. I NEVER go to Macy's because I think that they charge a ridiculous amount of money for not much. We spent 3 hours going from store to store to store and in all of these stores - the men's side had LOTS of business suits, in all shapes and sizes and colors. Burlington Coat Factory had half the men's section full of suits. Women's suits - 2 racks and half of them were petite - I'm 5'11.

I did eventually find one, at the second Macy's, but I was pretty peeved that men get to have all the "kick ass and take names" suits and women get bright pink, frilly, patterned, lacy, hideous suits.

I'm done ranting now.

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Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why can't women find a "power suit"? (Original post)
kdmorris Jun 2012 OP
Betsy Ross Jun 2012 #1
maddezmom Jun 2012 #5
kdmorris Jun 2012 #7
yardwork Jun 2012 #11
Warpy Sep 2017 #28
obamanut2012 Jun 2012 #2
Warpy Jun 2012 #3
libodem Jun 2012 #8
Warpy Jun 2012 #9
libodem Jun 2012 #15
emcalcuadrado May 2017 #23
elleng Jun 2012 #4
NV Whino Jun 2012 #6
yardwork Jun 2012 #10
JustAnotherGen Jun 2012 #12
Neoma Jun 2012 #13
LadyHawkAZ Jun 2012 #14
Gormy Cuss Jun 2012 #16
RainDog Jun 2012 #17
leung Sep 2012 #22
stevenleser Jun 2012 #18
kdmorris Jun 2012 #19
stevenleser Jun 2012 #20
Neoma Jun 2012 #21
clinton_2020 Jul 2017 #24
drmeow Sep 2017 #25
bettyellen Sep 2017 #29
raven mad Sep 2017 #26
Warpy Sep 2017 #30
raven mad Sep 2017 #31
MLAA Sep 2017 #27
forgotmylogin Sep 2017 #32
KT2000 Sep 2017 #33
LWolf Dec 2017 #34
CrispyQ Aug 2018 #36
CrispyQ Aug 2018 #35

Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 08:42 PM

1. Having been a professional for over 30 years

I have needed suits for much of my career. JC Penney's; NO. Burlington Coat Factory; NO. Sears; NO. You have a reasonable chance at Macy's; Nordstrom's would be the best. You WILL have to cough up good money to get a power suit. It's a pain to shop for, but it sounds like a must for your wardrobe.
I have gone back to being an engineering geek so I can wear anything. I don't even own a jacket any more, let alone a suit.

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Response to Betsy Ross (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 08:52 PM

5. It has been over 15 years since I've been in the market, but agree

one great suit from Nordstom will put on equal footing with everyone.

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Response to Betsy Ross (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 09:10 PM

7. I work at home, so normally I don't need power suits.

Nordstroms... I didn't think of them. I should have, I think. Yeah, cough up is about what I did.

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Response to Betsy Ross (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 10:17 PM

11. Talbot's, but it's hit or miss.

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Response to Betsy Ross (Reply #1)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 01:23 AM

28. Penney's can be good but only online and only if you're just out of college and broke

I agree about Nordstrom's for investment dressing, also, and if I hadn't been able to throw on a lab coat, I'd probably have gone there, also, and eaten beans and rice for six months to pay for the sucker.

Some of their stuff is online, but it's better to go to one of their stores and take advantage of the in store tailoring to make sure it fits you like a glove.

Or you could follow me to NM, whre black jeans are formal wear.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 08:46 PM

2. It is really difficult to find one

As you said, men have a zillion, while it's hard to find a good, conservative suit, and one that isn't trendy. I finally found some at Belk, and got a good one.

Mean also get free or cheap alterations, that are AUTOMATIC and quick. Women? Forget it.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 08:47 PM

3. The label to look for at Penney's is Worthington

While most of the suiting is in shades of grey, you can from time to time find a black pinstripe that is very nice. I often think mix & match is a better idea than a simple suit, the black pinstripe paired with a solid black skirt being the power combination I prefer.

My bugaboo is the shoes. I loathe heels.

I loathe them so much I went into nursing, the one profession that can be done in comfortable shoes.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 09:53 PM

8. big white orthopedic clods for me too

Must wear good shoes on those concrete floors or your feet, knees, hips and lower back are done for. I liked SAS brand.

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Response to libodem (Reply #8)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 10:01 PM

9. Reeboks or New Balance for me

None of the nursing shoes gave me adequate support. The last couple of years I wore z-coils, almost felt like dancing after a 12 hour shift.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #9)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 01:43 AM

15. I like both of those too

I wear nb for daily use these days. I can't work any more but I still have to protect my feet. They are awful.

I could never wear heels. I have super long toes that give me a size 11. My feet are flat. I have bunions. My foot is otherwise narrow. Awful.

Power suits make the woman the same way his clothes make a man. Nice dark shoes show a solid foundation.

A woman in pants equals a man in his Brumuda shorts, in business. A woman looks more dressed for the part in a nice dark business suit and sensible heels and higher if she can manage.

I can't dress the part cuz I have giant crooked feet. Heels would kill me. I'd have to special order from a transexual speciality shop. Only men's heels could fit me. Then I'd need Canadian crutches to walk.

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Response to libodem (Reply #15)

Wed May 31, 2017, 06:45 PM

23. Your toes

 

Super long toes make any feet beautiful! How long? have you measured your second toe?

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 08:50 PM

4. Try Brooks Brothers.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 09:02 PM

6. Pendleton usually has some good suits

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 10:15 PM

10. I know. It infuriates me.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 10:27 PM

12. Brooks brothers

I love their shirts. I also had two pants suits custom made. I went to a basic tailor, picked my fabrics and design. Voila. I do sew but I don't have time to do a project hat complicated - and I have A.S. my hands don't consistently have the strength or dexterity to pin, back stitch, use scissors etc etc

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 11:27 PM

13. So there's a market for them? Good to know!

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2012, 11:42 PM

14. For stuff like that

I will usually just shop the men's department. I'm not into frilly and the clothes from the men's dept. seem to last me longer. If I need to girly it up a little I'll go get a pretty, colorful blouse to go under the jacket. BUT I am not a businesswoman so I can't speak for how well that would go over in a business environment.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 01:05 PM

16. I used to buy one good suit each year in part because it was so much damn work to find one.

For the rest of my work outfits I just looked for good jackets with classic styling and then found coordinating dresses, skirts or pants. A good jacket goes a long way towards presenting that "power suit" attitude. I always opted for jackets with good size pockets and did not care a handbag at meetings.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 01:41 PM

17. I've thought about getting a men's suit and tie

for those occasions when I need to play that sort of dress up.

... because it's also a comment upon the whole management culture.

but so far, haven't.

however - if you're tall - you could pull it off, maybe - or substitute a collarless shirt for a men's shirt and tie.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #17)


Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 08:24 PM

18. Good Power Suits are effing expensive no matter the gender.

 

My best suggestion is to find an outlet mall like the kind they have in Ellenton, Florida or in Manchester, Vermont where they have designer stores with deep discounts. At a Hugo Boss outlet store or Armani outlet store, you can get mens and womens Hugo Boss or Armani suits at 25% of their original costs.

There are other designers of course but those are two of my favorites.

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #18)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 09:00 PM

19. Yeah, I noticed that, even with all those suits

on the men's side... there were not at all less expensive

We have a Nordstrom's Rack close to us that I might also try. Next closest is Sawgrass Mills (Sunrise, Florida) - which has a metric ton of outlet stores and is ridiculous in size and scope.

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Response to kdmorris (Reply #19)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 11:28 PM

20. I think there is some sort of rule that no matter how much money you make, the suits that are

 

appropriate and worn by most people at your level are more expensive than the salary at that level should be able to afford.

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #20)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 12:46 AM

21. That happened at my first job...

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Mon Jul 24, 2017, 11:40 AM

24. same

I too am devoid of kick butt suits and am looking for any good recommendations

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 12:57 AM

25. I have my conservative interview suit

Evan-Picone - its a grey check pattern that I consider suitable for a man's suit, pencil skirt and classic style jacket. I make it kick ass by wearing a power blouse (red silk shell, for example). But the suit I love which I consider to be a "power" suit is Tahari/Arthur S Levine. It is one of those suits where the jacket is the top (no blouse) and is cherry red linen. I love it but it is too much of a kick ass suit for an interview (I'm interviewing at hospitals - for the right IT job, maybe). I think I got them both at Macy's but it looks like Macy's doesn't carry Evan-Picone anymore. Sears and JC Penney's appears to, though.

One thing that I've found it that where you live makes a big difference in style and sizing. I actually wear a petite and can rarely find much but my mom used to complain that all the stores in Orange County, CA, had huge petite sections.

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Response to drmeow (Reply #25)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 01:58 AM

29. Banana Republic carries a lot of petite career wear

 

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 01:06 AM

26. I bitched about this for 15 years until I quit and decided on jeans.

And the worst? 1980 - 1981, MATERNITY CLOTHES when you're a professional.

Non-existent. Except for frilly puffy-sleeved "dresses"..............

I was skinny enough, I wore very loose strapless dresses with unconstructed blazers, the dresses in one color, the blazers in several.

We're STILL screwed! Try "old lady" (I'm 63) dresses/suits................

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Response to raven mad (Reply #26)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 02:02 AM

30. I live in NM where the summers are hellishly hot (although not as bad as Phoenix)

and I've taken to wearing shorts at home and light cotton jeans out with woven cotton tops made in India. Those folks know how to do hot weather fabric. I choose carefully so I don't even look like a geriatric hippie.

Acres of polyester designed by Omar the Tentmaker just weren't for me, and those are the only old lady clothes the stores seem to offer, otherwise it's pop singer inspired slutwear or sweet, simple and girlish, or banker attire. If computer shopping hadn't arisen, I'd be hooked on catalogs.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #30)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 02:22 AM

31. LOL! Warpy, I AM a geriatric hippie -

and I loved those cotton tops and long dresses!

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 01:11 AM

27. Here's my tip

Whether you splurge or find a bargain....what really makes a power suit is the fit. Get it tailored unless you are one of the blessed few where everything fits perfectly off the rack. Not always worth it to tailor casual clothes. But you will feel like a million bucks if your power suit fits to a T.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 02:26 AM

32. Is there any reason you couldn't fit a men's suit and have it tailored?

I'm by no means a fashion expert, so perhaps I don't understand. But there's no reason women shouldn't get to rock a suit and tie:



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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Fri Sep 22, 2017, 03:52 AM

33. lots of retired people

where I live. Our second hand and consignment stores always have power suits for women - good brands. Everyone here lives in jeans though.

I have a friend who always dressed "Nordstrom suits" at work. They all came from second hand stores.

When you have some time to kill go to an area with wealthy people and check out their thrift/consignment stores. For the low prices, you can afford alterations if necessary.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Sat Dec 9, 2017, 05:35 PM

34. To be honest,

I really don't like business suits, "power" or other. I don't feel more respect for a man because he's wearing a suit and tie; I tend to trust him less.

Of course, I also don't really relate, at all, to the general fashion sense and values of my species. For me, clothing is supposed to be functional, not a billboard to send a message. I like clothes that are clean, in good repair, fit decently, AND ARE FUCKING COMFORTABLE.

So, as a woman, a professional woman, I don't own any suits. I dress pretty casually for day to day work. My normal day includes both presentations, desk work, and more physical work, some indoors and some outdoors. I put up and take down displays. I rearrange furniture. I carry supplies up and down two flights of stairs. I organize outdoor activities. If the people I'm presenting to pay more attention to what I'm wearing than what I'm saying, they've got a values problem; at least, the adult portion of my audiences do.

Yet, I know that I'm an outlier. That the vast majority of the population DOES judge people in part by what they wear, and by cultural norms for fashion. I'm getting away with stepping outside that narrow little box because my experience carries weight, and because I don't care, and am confident about my performance, I have a presence that people see in spite of whether or not I wear a power suit.

Is a suit mandatory? Can you dress "professionally" in something other than a suit? Or do you just like suits?

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Response to LWolf (Reply #34)

Sun Aug 12, 2018, 06:10 PM

36. That's a good point.

I worked for a CEO who had a lot of suits, but sometimes she wore this red dress. It was fitted & she had a great figure, but it wasn't revealing at all, buttoned up to the neck, long sleeves. But it had an asymmetrical closing with big gold buttons. She said she got more things she wanted in board meetings when she wore that dress, so of course she took it on the road with her when they did their IPO tour.

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Response to kdmorris (Original post)

Sun Aug 12, 2018, 06:05 PM

35. Find a good seamstress. It will be worth it in the long run.

You will end up with pieces you love & that fit better & are of higher quality than store bought. Although finding a fabric store that has anything more than craft fabric, is a bit of a challenge these days.

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