The Return of the Pantsuit & Jewelry for the Polished Professional Woman

Its first notice on the fashion scene may have been the announcement in the December 28, 2009 issue of People magazine: “The Return of the Pantsuit: Brace yourself, this ever-so-sensible ensemble is making a comeback.” Indeed, five popular celebrities are shown wearing coordinated jackets or blazers with pants, all entirely office-appropriate except perhaps for some of the footwear and Jenny McCarthy’s version that showcases her cleavage.

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By March, 2010, Glamour was touting the style: “Everyone’s Wearing Hillary’s Pantsuit!” referencing Hillary Clinton, of course, and unabashedly proclaiming “Love it!” Again, five popular celebrities (with a repeat appearance by Ashley Greene) model the look.

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I expect that professional women everywhere will endorse this trend. Why is the pantsuit perennially popular with professional women? Among other reasons:

1. A pantsuit is comfortable.
2. Accessorized appropriately, it looks professional and authoritative.
3. It works on a woman of any size, from petite to plus.
4. It looks good with flats or the new lower heels as well as with stilettos or platforms.
5. It has tremendous versatility. It can be dressed up to go from office to evening with a change of blouses and accessories; it can also be sassed up for a more playful look with accessories such as a menswear-inspired hat, tie or braces (suspenders).
6. It effectively eliminates the issue whether to wear hosiery, which has not been in style these last few years, or whether to go bare-legged, which is not an attractive look on many women.
7. It gives a woman a long, sleek vertical line of color from shoulders to ankles.

One of the best fashion spreads highlighting the return of the pantsuit appears in the Spring Fashion issue of New York magazine (Feb. 22 – Mar. 1, 2010). The copy headline reads “The Pantsuit Became a Wardrobe Fundamental. Again.” and adds: “But that doesn’t mean it has to be dull.” Four ensembles are pictured:

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The runway looks pictured in New York magazine are fairly devoid of accessories except for the structured handbag carried by the model for Giorgio Armani and, of course, an interesting selection of footwear. The one exception pictured is by Ralph Lauren, who takes a more literal menswear approach to the pantsuit with a necktie, pocket handkerchief and cap along with spectator shoes and a prominent double-looped pocket watch chain (but no visible pocket watch).

Another great fashion spread focusing on the pantsuit that also introduces jewelry to the mix appears in the January 2010 issue of Elle magazine featuring “the season’s sharpest menswear-inspired looks.”

In this illustration from Elle, the model wears a single gold bangle bracelet by Links of London (barely visible on her left wrist) with her Ralph Lauren Collection pantsuit, denim shirt, tie and spectator brogues.

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In this second illustration from Elle, the model’s tweed pantsuit is accessorized with a yellow gold watch with alligator band from Breguet.

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A couple of great ads that recently appeared in Vogue magazine highlight the trend. From March, a vest and pants ensemble from Boss by Hugo Boss:

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From February, here is an ad featuring a chic winter pantsuit with taupe blouse by Chloe. Notice the gold rectangular pinky ring, which adds power and pizzazz to the ensemble and also relates to the model’s angular face:

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The April 2010 issue of Lucky magazine includes one editor’s picks: “Smart, tailored items project the nonchalant charm of Lauren Hutton.” Notice the picks include a vest, hat, belt, spectator-style oxfords and a Bulova watch, the latter with the comment: “There’s no improving on a classic.”

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The chic businesswoman can add to the perception of her powerfulness with some strategizing of her jewelry. This is the time to be wearing real gold and jewelry of sufficient size and scale to be a noticeable part of a professional ensemble. The best choices are:

• Short necklaces (no fussy fragile chains – think bold, classic elegance);
• Earrings not larger than one to 1 ½ inches in size (nothing that dangles or distracts);
• Sizeable rings (all-metal choices or cabochon gemstone rings are excellent);
• Bangle bracelets (worn singly to avoid jangling) and
• Classic wristwatches (women’s or men’s styles with a strap are optimal).

For a more creative look, a woman might wear a brooch on her lapel (again here, an all-metal choice would be excellent) or a pocket watch (or at least a pocket watch chain). A pocket watch might also be suspended from a brooch and pinned to a jacket, or worn as a pendant on a chain.

Remember that the styles should relate to the features and personality of the woman wearing them – jewelry is never one-size-fits-all. At the same time, jewelry designs appropriate for the pantsuit are expensive-looking and elegant. I am excited to see where jewelry designers will take this trend.