How To Wear A Pantsuit When You’re Over 40

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There’s no denying the fact that women’s pant suits are undergoing somewhat of a renaissance, thanks to the badass lady politicians who have made them popular in the past few years. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum the options for women’s pantsuits are better than ever, so right now is definitely the time to check the choices if you’re in the market for a new suit or two. Here’s how to wear a pantsuit when you’re over 40.

How To Wear A Pantsuit

How do you decide which pantsuits are best for you? Unlike men’s suits which can be pretty standardized (sorry guys), suits for women vary widely. Everything from strictly tailored menswear-styled herringbone or pinstripe suits to candy-colored Chanel-inspired collarless jackets are available for women. Suits range from tweeds to downright sexy evening looks that involve wearing a fitted pantsuit and well, not much else.

One thing to note is with women’s suiting in general, the good stuff tends to be pricey. Often it is worth the splurge, because a cheap suit pretty much always does just look like exactly that – a cheap suit. However, deals can be had if you shop the major sales and sometimes suits from places like Zara can look surprisingly high end with a little tailoring.

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Rebecca Taylor Tailored Stretch Modern Suiting Jacket, $395 and pants, $250

Go Neutral

Black, white, camel, and gray are probably some of the easiest pantsuits to work into your wardrobe, and it’s always good to have a basic pantsuit on hand in case an occasion springs up. This black suit by Rebecca Taylor is pretty elegant and the double-breasted style makes it a little different. Plus that nipped-in waist is super flattering. 

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Saint Laurent Double-breasted Metallic Pinstriped Wool-blend Twill Blazer, $2,990 and pants $1,190

Pinstripe Suit

Pinstripes are a major trend for this spring, which means there are some fabulous pinstripe suits on the racks at the moment. This pantsuit by Saint Laurent is absolutely impeccable (because of course – it’s YSL), but there are pinstripe options available at all price points right now.

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Zadig & Voltaire Palmy Pinstripe Pants, $328

What’s more, if you don’t want to go with a full-on pinstripe suit, pinstripe pants always look great – whether you do the wide legged look with a blouse or fitted top a la Katherine Hepburn or something funkier and fitted with a graphic tee, pinstripe pants can be a surprising wardrobe workhorse. We’re fans of these cargo-style pants from Zadig & Voltaire for the latter – they are slightly unexpected and could be dressed up with a blouse and heels or down with a tee and sneakers, and would work equally well both ways.

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French Connection Adisa Sundae Suiting Jacket, $268 and pants, $168 | Express Red Ankle Columnist Pant Suit Notch Collar One Button Blazer, $76.80 and pants $47.94

Go Bold

If you already have a basic or neutral pantsuit, then you might want to branch out into colors or patterns. For example, this lemon yellow suit from French Connection is perfect if you want to channel your inner Iris Apfel This bright red pantsuit from Express is a little more of a statement but still classic. Bright colors are where you can go a little cheaper. After all, you’ll probably wear them less often and may get tired of trendy shades or prints after a season or two. 

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Stuart Weitzman Nearlynude Block-Heel Metallic Leather Sandals, $398

It’s All About The Shoes

When you’re wearing a pantsuit, your shoes matter the most. Whether you want to add height with a pair of stilettos or block heels or go for a trendy streetwear style by pairing your pantsuit with sneakers, the shoes make the outfit. We love high heels with cropped or ankle pants – you can do block heels to be more comfortable – but there is something to be said for an elegant pair of sandals or pumps like these barely there Stuart Weitzman heels.

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Nadri Pavé Hoop Earrings, $65

And The Accessories

The jewelry you wear with a pantsuit can totally change the look – pearls might be too old-fashioned or preppy for your tastes, but a statement necklace or major earrings can change the look completely. We love the look of a big hoop earring with a classic women’s pantsuit, like these pavé hoops from Nadri.

Scarves paired with pantsuits can be tricky, since they can quickly veer into old lady territory in a negative way. Silk scarves can be tough, but more modern or unexpected styles worn open – just tossed over the shoulders – can be amazing. That said, we will always love Hermes scarves in pretty much any way, shape, or form. But consider tying it around the handle of your bag instead of on your neck or shoulders if you’re wearing a pantsuit. 

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Cuyana Silk Tee, $155

Underpinnings For A Pantsuit

The top that you wear underneath your suit definitely matters, even if you can only see a sliver of it. Gone are the days of silk shells or boring basic blouses. You can and should rock anything you want under your pantsuit, from a printed tee to a lacy lingerie-inspired camisole.

A crisp button down can be great for daytime when paired with a pantsuit, but not all of us have the time or inclination to iron or maintain these types of skirts. And they can get terribly wrinkled which doesn’t look great if you decide to remove your jacket.

Which is why that one key thing we suggest is to always make sure that the top underneath your suit still works well if you take off the jacket. It should still be a cohesive outfit if you get hot or otherwise decide to ditch a layer! Silk tees and tanks are great for this reason, and we’re fans of Cuyana’s silk tees, camis and other layering pieces.

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Treasure & Bond Knit Blazer, $99 | J. Crew Frankie Pant in Everyday Wool, $123.99

Mix And Match With Suit Separates

One of the best things about a great pantsuit is that you can mix up the pieces with other parts of your wardrobe. Try wearing the pants paired with a different jacket or top, or the jacket over a dress. However, breaking up a pantsuit is easier said than done. Suit separates are the solution for this. Pieces with different colors and textures that echo the formality of a suit, but can still be separated and mixed with other items in your wardrobe.

For example, this rust-colored Treasure & Bond knit blazer would be perfect paired with jeans or black pants or white pants, while the aptly-named J.Crew Frankie Everyday pant would work well with nearly anything. Both pieces could go to the office or out to dinner easily.

One of the many reasons that we love pantsuits and suit separates is that they can go from day to night with ease. Depending on the suit itself, it could work for both an office or a formal event like a wedding paired with different accessories.

Even if you don’t work in a business formal environment or otherwise need to wear a suit on a regular basis, having a great pantsuit in your closet can be super handy! Besides, there is something to be said for that all-around badass unstoppable feeling that you get when you’re wearing an awesome suit.

Do you have a go-to pantsuit or killer suit?

Shop Pantsuits For Women Over 40

–Jacqueline Zenn

You may like to read more of Jacqueline’s styling posts for women over 40 like Here Are The Best Swimwear Trends to Rock Over 40 and 7 Of The Best Resort 2020 Trends You Can Wear Now.

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