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.
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.
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.
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.
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.