Dress for Success: Suit Shells

I was recently watching an episode of The New Girl and there was a scene where Julia, a lawyer, was representing the quirky and colorful Jess (Zooey Deschanel) for an LA traffic ticket. Julia was wearing a blank pantsuit with a burgundy cotton tank top and I commented out loud (to myself) not only how boring a cotton shirt looks under a suit but also how unprofessional it can be. (Luckily, Jess felt the same way and during an emotional rant to Julia commented on how her outfit could be just a little bit cuter.)

T-shirts and cotton tanks are wardrobe staples but should never be paired with your suit. T-shirts come across not only as lazy but sometimes a bit sleazy.  A girl I used to work with always wore a tight white t-shirt under her black skirt suit and I always felt she should be working at Maxim where a suit is more kitschy choice than professional uniform. A simple shell is as easy to throw on as a t-shirt and is appropriate for the office and the courtroom. A shell is another term women’s top, generally sleeveless.  When looking for suit shells, opt for richer textures, like satin or silk, and stay away from thin and gauzy materials. The colors should compliment or ad some pop under your suit.  A few classic combinations include cream under navy, pink under black, and aubergine under white. If you have a larger chest avoid shells with a high neckline as they can make you look larger. Cowl-necks are a flattering choice on everyone.

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