Not every working women has a need for a suit these days.  However, many women find that they need to have at least one in their wardrobes for things like interviewing, conferences, big meetings, and more.  For these occasions, they are happy to have a suit on hand, but rarely find much of a reason to break it out beyond these few instances.  I think we all have things like this in our wardrobe, like a go-to cocktail dress for the few weddings or affairs that show up in our calendars or that holiday sweater that comes out only for festive gatherings.  One could say that, for many women, a suit falls into this category, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

I got to thinking about this when I was chatting with a client last week.  she told me that she needed to have one suit in her wardrobe for the few times throughout the year where she would have to wear one.  I thought about this one suit, hanging there collecting dust, that would only get worn a few times, and wondered if there was an alternative way to ensure that her investment of this suit would be of more value to her.  After all, suits can be expensive and it seems like a waste that it would only see the light of day a handful of times.  Then I thought about how much more use the suit would get if my client were to break it apart for the more business casual work days so she could get even more use from it.  Below, I took one suit and broke it apart to show that the suit you own for just a few wears a year can get a lot more mileage.  Take a look for ideas how you can more wear from one suit.

How to Get More Wear from One Suit

Outfit #1- The suited look

more wear from a suit

In this outfit I am starting with a suited look using this suit from Reiss (link to jacket and link to skirt). For this more corporate look, I added this blush shell from White House Black Market, Sole Society pumps in tan and long station necklace from Julie Aylward.

Outfit #2- Pair the jacket with separate pants

how to get more wear from one suit

The first way to get more wear from one suit is to take the jacket and style it with colored pants, like I am here using the jacket of the suit with a pair of red pants from J. Crew.  Suit jackets make excellent separate blazers and are great finishing pieces if you plan on branching out and adding colorful bottoms to your work wardrobe.  The outfit is finished in a business casual manner using this sleeveless georgette top from Theory, heeled sandals from Steve Madden, layered necklace from Stella & Dot and tortoise bracelet from Bauble Bar.

Outfit #3- Use the skirt as a separate pencil skirt

more wear from one suit

Instead of of buying a bunch of separate pencil skirts, try using the skirt from a suit instead.  You can also do this with the pants of a suit too if skirts aren’t your thing.  You can style this skirt or a pair of pants with a different jacket, more casually with a knit top, or like I did here using this printed top from Boden and ivory cardigan from Ted Baker.  The outfit is finished using the same pumps and necklace as the first look.

Outfit #4- Layer the jacket over a dress

more wear from one suit

Once the weather gets warmer you will likely have a lot of sleeveless dresses in your wardrobe.  If you have been looking for the right thing to cover your bare arms, consider taking the jacket of your basic suit and using that.  Your basic, barely worn, suit is probably in a neutral color like navy, black or grey, making it very versatile.  Here, I layered the suit jacket over a printed dress from Rebecca Taylor, added these coral pumps from Donald J Pliner and finished the outfit with these blue studs from Kate Spade.

Outfit #5- Make denim work appropriate

more wear from one suit

Lastly, try creating a more professional  denim look by styling the jacket of your suit with a pair of jeans.  I styled this chic look using a pair of dark wash skinny jeans from Lucky Brand, a striped basic shirt from Banana Republic, a pair of purple flats from Shoes of Prey, scarf from Lauren Ralph Lauren and earrings from Evelyn Knight.

Of course, I could go on creating more looks using the suit, but you get the general idea of how you can get more wear from suit.  Don’t limit its use simply because it is a suit.  Break it apart.  Before you do, however, be sure to keep these additional tips in mind.

  • Always dry clean your suit pieces together: Even if you wear the jacket more times than the skirt, or vice versa, always dry clean your suit pieces at the same time to avoid any fading or color changes to one piece of the suit and, therefore, ruin its abilities to be worn together.
  • Try breaking a suit apart for travel: When you are hitting the road for your next business trip and need one suit, use the suit as the base of your capsule and then break it apart to create additional business causal looks.  You’ll create more outfits while packing less.  Read more on packing for a business trip here.
  • Build a work capsule by starting with a suit: Building your business wardrobe from scratch?  Start with a suit and build more from there.  Read more on this here.
  • You can’t work backwards: If having little need for a suit has kept you from actually purchasing one, remember, you can’t fake a suit by taking a separate pair of pants and/or and jacket and then forcing it to look like a suit.  It never works.