What to Pair With a Woman's Suit Jacket

by Stacey Kole
A classic white button-down shirt is a timeless look under a suit jacket.

A classic white button-down shirt is a timeless look under a suit jacket.

Whether you’re heading to the office, a business meeting or a nice dinner out, you simply can’t go wrong by wearing a suit jacket. While bottom-half options are simple and straightforward, what you wear underneath the jacket depends on both the event and your personal style. From a basic button-down collar shirt to more elaborate statement blouses, all it takes is a bit of planning to pull a polished look together.

Classic Approach

A first-time job interview -- particularly for a traditional corporate job in such fields as finance or law -- demands that you keep your look conservative. Always in good taste, a white, ivory or pale blue button-down shirt with a collar is sure to score professional points. A variation on the typical cotton shirt is a soft, silk button-down. If your suit jacket is black or charcoal, a burgundy or green collared blouse looks both polished and vibrant. A lighter hued suit jacket, like beige or ivory, keeps a tailored appearance by adding a navy or black button-down shirt underneath.

Blouse Styles

For regular work-week attire or a business lunch where your jacket is likely to come off, you can easily introduce some style into your look with a variety of blouse types. Experiment with scoop-neck, V-neck, crewneck and turtleneck styles in such fabrics as silk, cashmere and rayon. To extend the number of times you can wear your jacket without it requiring cleaning, opt for a shirt with sleeves. You can also add extra fashion flair to your look by opting for a blouse with details, such as a tie front or embroidery across the neckline.

Casual Alternatives

If you’re going for a more casual, easy-going style, a simple sleeveless shell, tank top or tissue-thin T-shirt will dress down your look, while still preserving the polish that naturally comes from wearing a suit jacket. Use jewelry strategically to create a contrast. For example, a casual scoop or V-neck tank top worn with a statement or Y-shaped necklace looks chic and trendy; a pair of pearl, crystal or diamond earrings keeps the overall appearance elegant.

Bottom Half

A suit jacket is typically worn with a skirt or trousers, but a stylish shorts suit is a trendy choice for spring and summer -- especially if your workplace is less structured or you're heading to brunch or an afternoon wedding. Or, for a decidedly different take, wear your suit jacket over dress. A simple, sleeveless sheath that fits close to the body is instantly made work-appropriate or boardroom-ready with the addition of a well-cut jacket. If the event you’re heading to is formal or professional, keep the color neutral -- think a gray sheath with a black jacket or a navy dress with an ivory jacket. If the environment you’re in is more creative, wear a bold color like red or cobalt, or reach for a black-and-white print or a vibrant floral dress and top with a tailored black blazer.

About the Author

Stacey Kole worked for five years as managing editor of the style and pop-culture magazine Savvy, where she traveled coast-to-coast covering all things fashion and beauty. In addition to daily writing and editing duties, she interviewed and penned cover stories on such celebrities as Avril Lavigne, Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens. Stacey holds a Master's Degree in Education and currently writes for a number of online publications.

Photo Credits

  • Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images