3 Ways to Wear a Suit Without Looking Like One

Getting ready for work just got easier (hopefully)


It’s all fun and games with this no-pants business until someone gets fired for completely refusing to acknowledge the dress code. Outfit inspiration is one thing. Needing to ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT TO WEAR is a whole other. When I did a story a few months ago called “How to Dress for a Corporate Dress Code Without Falling Asleep,” one of you actually said to me in the comments, “I love you, but you don’t understand corporate.”

I love you, too. And I don’t. You’d think I would because so many of my friends have corporate jobs. I can never send emails with curse words to these friends because their office flags them then sends us both warnings. It’s a thing we’re working on.

Another thing I’m working on is how to make a suit feel both office-appropriate and cool.

The Classic Navy

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Karoline Lang jacket, H&M pants, Rebecca Taylor floral shirt under J.Crew striped men’s shirtCecelia pumps, Smythson briefcaseIppolita earrings, Gentle Monster glasses

Keep in mind that we’ve gotta throw the MR Aesthetic in there somewhere. That said, step 1 is to find a tailored navy blazer and pants to pair. This here isn’t an actual suit but very closely-matched blues. Underneath: an oversized shirt that I pinned at the back to create a sort of skirt underneath the blazer hems. I then added a floral shirt underneath the button-down and glasses that say, “I can see you.”

So, outfit 1: How did I do?

The Casual Friday Plaid

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Altuzarra jacket and pants, J.Crew shirt, Hermès neck scarf, Manolo Blahnik shoes, Poms sunglasses

I know plaid might not be appropriate for everyday. Maybe it’s your crazy Friday look. But this one is Altuzarra, and if I worked at a truly corporate office, I would invest in one Altuzarra suit and wear it every single day for the rest of my career/life. Its pristine tailoring makes the otherwise-average suit look special. No can do on Altuzarra? Remember that you can always bring an affordable suit to a tailor. It will cost money, but it will cost less than the price you’d spend on a designer suit. Wrap a scarf around your neck and add funky glasses for the commute.

Go Gray Prematurely 

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AYR jacket and pants, Creatures of Comfort top over J.Crew striped men’s shirt, Manolo Blahnik shoesJanessa Leone hat

I’m not sure what the standard policy is on the cropped pants, please advice, but I am sure that this color feels professional yet unexpected. If you were expecting charcoal, I guess. An odd top can act as your answer to the modern waistcoat/vest, and bright blue mules — whether you actually wear them in the office or slip into them after hours — are what glass ceiling hammers are made of.

Follow our model, Kalysse Anthony, on Instagram @kalysseanthony. Styled by Amelia Diamond, accessories market by Elizabeth Tamkin, photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Shevaun

    praise be amelia for these great dang outfits.

    i start grown-up interviews for my career, like, soon, and i have no idea how to wear a suit, so this is PERFECTLY TIMED FOR MY LIFE.

  • Natasha

    Woooow. Every outfit is just brilliant. And I can’t believe how closely those navy blazer & pants match??

  • theysayshycity

    Uggggggggggggggh I wish I could wear these to work (cropped, tight and loud is a little too much for my office) – but you’re getting closer!

    • BarbieBush

      Agree. I feel like corporate dress code would TECHNICALLY allow these but there would definitely be judgement. Which in most situations who cares but in some sneaky corporations like bad judgments from the wrong people reflect on your professionalism and perceived character. I have to walk a thin line at work and think about this a lot. I want to stay true to my aesthetic, which is not as intense as MR, and it is even a struggle.

      • theysayshycity

        What would be really helpful (but also v. v. boring to anyone outside of a heavily corporate environment), is if MR went through affordable woman’s suiting and compared the fabrics to men’s suiting. My male colleagues have heavy tweeds and thick wools and subtle patterns, and I’m left trying to figure out exactly how ~ann taylor~ my poly blend looks…

        • Krusty the Kat

          Here, here! Affordable suiting that toes the unconventional line usually also screams “Clearance Rack at Marshalls!” up close.

        • Imo when we’re talking truly affordable and not “affordable”, J Crew suiting and their non suiting blazers are a great choice, especially if you’re looking for some patterns and colorways that you can wear to an office but that isn’t overly traditional. Their blazers are made of heavier wool or cotton that is a lot closer to men’s suiting in cut, fabric and fit than Ann Taylor or the like.

          A few years ago I bought a boyish navy blazer in wool from there w/ gold buttons that had a somewhat boxy but in a shrunken way cut that was awesome, and I don’t even like navy. It was just so cute in it’s “I’m wearing a cool version of a boy’s suit” way.

  • Elise

    All this nice corporate fashion comes up while everyone in my damn office wears JEANS and VANS

  • Andrea Raymer

    YES! i bought my first suit a couple of weeks ago and now i am obsessed with looking like an old British man. You read my mind Amelia.

  • love those blue manolo blahnik shoes. great article.

  • Best part of these looks is the model’s HAIR! #curlygirl


  • Julissa

    I am not this fancy at work or elsewhere but that briefcase is amazing!!!!

  • chouette

    THIS IS MORE LIKE IT YOU ARE PERFECTLY TOEING THE LINE OF PROFESH ENOUGH TO GET BY BUT CRAZY ENOUGH TO AVOID MEETINGS !!!! I think this is also a really great example of why it does pay more to spend more sometimes – that Altuzarra suit is special but the plaid is classic enough that I cannot see it being out of trend so quickly. You could wear it enough to make it a signature piece (and need I drag out the old What Not To Wear ethos that you can always break up a suit!)

  • Patty Carnevale

    this really made my day.

  • me

    Hey sis: Could you demo how you pinned the oversize blouse to get the cool skirting effect in outfit #1 ?? pretty pleeeease?

    All three are fantastic office looks! Absolutely.

  • Junglesiren

    I love all of the ensembles… If this is too wild for corporate — yikes! I’m simply happy to be an artist and dress as I like. Here are outfits I can wear to meetings… and will. I love the color of the mules but hate mules. I never actually understood them. Aesthetically they’re not pleasing IMO and practically WTF? They flap around and make clompy noise and one must walk a bit slower so as not to step out of them. But the color! Magnificent! As is your hair… and everything else in the shoot. Brava, my girl!

  • cb47

    I love every single outfit Amelia, you’re really talented. But, it bothers me that MR now uses models for these pieces. It doesn’t seem as close to real life anymore.

  • Alyce

    how timely! today I’m wearing plaid mustard & black high-waisted flares (sound awful, are amazing) and a black suit jacket. My take on the suit – two tone it! And no.. it’s not Friday, but fuck it, it’s plaid day.

    • Hellbetty666

      This sounds like my dream work outfit. LOVE.

  • I love everything about this.

  • charlottedarling

    I’ve always dreamed of owning a suit. Always.

  • Ann P

    These are great. I love the plaid suit!! I work in tech, but the corporate consultingy style tech. I would wear all these and no eyebrows would be raised. I wore crops today actually (because it’s stinking hot here). I also went back and looked at the other article, and I would wear all of those as well, in fact I tried to get my hands on the La Ligne pants, and the twinset.

    There are probably some reasons I’d be able to wear all this: I’m older, (44), I’ve built my reputation / brand (I’m not quite traditional and take no shit, so please, go ahead and tell me what I can and can’t wear….), and I’m not in NY, I’m in Australia. It’s not the same in law offices / accounting firms etc, and I did do my time in suits when I was in my 20s tbh. But I can now express myself through my clothing and do so daily, even if it’s just punch-you-in-the face red lipstick, or bright pink heels. So those of you feeling like you have to be all pumps and pencil skirts forever, take heart. It doesn’t have to be like that. And even better, at some point you’ll have the power to change it for those coming up behind you.

  • Londile Black

    All three looks would fit perfectly fine in my line of work. I tend to play around with my office look, I really don’t like looking typical or plain. So I’d definitely pair the grey suit with a pop of color just like the blue mules.

  • Eun Jung Cha

    I wish I owned a suit to begin with…

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    I’m a teacher, so I can wear business casual, and these suits make me want to buy some fabric and make one. I have patterns, so just need to find the right fabric.

  • Andrea

    as a future lawyer I am v down w this article

  • T.

    Love the second look!
    Uhmm.. I can turn up at my job in jeans (without holes) and a sweater if I want. This was even the case when I worked as a teacher. Sometimes I wish I had a job where I have to wear chic suits like those above!

  • Lanatria Brackett Ellis

    That plaid suit gave me alllll my life DO YOU HEAAR ME?!!! *rushes off to buy a suit .I am compulsive and shameless.

  • ESW

    I work in corporate America, and I could totally wear these to work without the old white dudes giving me side-eye. I GIVE YOU AN A.

  • Ally H

    Amazing. All the shoes are giving me major inspo. I also love how Molly from Insecure dresses at work – not exactly the man repeller aesthetic but so chic

  • grace

    Also, have amazing hair

  • Amelia – this is genius! This is so so so good

  • Olivia

    I’m in business school right now, and the day in our seminar class when we were told what business casual/professional clothing was ~supposed~ to look like was a v sad day for me looking at the sea of polyester greys and blacks. If only these were the example photos, I swoon!!!! would give too much to wear the top over striped button up combo