Business Attire – Section 3: Jackets

Your jacket gives formality to your appearance. Look for a classic, tailored, clean cut jacket.

Women’s suit jackets come in a variety of lengths. Generally, it’s best to go for a classic length that finishes about hallway down your derriere. You can adjust the jacket length to accentuate or minimize different parts of your body. To minimize your hips, purchase a jacket that falls just below or above your hips. For petite women, a cropped jacket that will just cover the hips can strike a good balance. For shorter women, longer jackets can make you look taller.

If you are full chested, the best cut of a jacket is the full princess seam. A full princess seam is a seam that goes from the shoulder through the bust and to the waist on the front and back of the jacket. Buttoning the jacket will balance it on your body, so it’s important that the jacket fits properly when buttoned. Only the middle button should be buttoned on a three-button jacket, and only the top on a two-button jacket. For full chested women, three-button jackets generally work better.

The sleeve of your jacket should be just long enough to allow at least one quarter to one half inch of your shirt cuff to show. The seam where the shirt cuff joins the shirt sleeve should never be visible. Similarly, the jacket sleeve should never hide the shirt sleeve entirely. At least a small band of shirt cuff should always be visible.

Clothing Guides

General Guidelines

  • Ensure the jacket fits properly when buttoned.
  • Look for midsized lapels that are not too wide or too narrow.
  • Lapels should lay nice and flat across the chest.
  • The sleeve seam should fall along the shoulder.
  • Your shoulder should not be visible in the sleeve.
  • Padding should not slide off the shoulder or create any bulging.
  • Buttons should fasten without causing fabric to pull on the opposite end.
  • Full length sleeves have one to five cuff buttons, four is traditional.

To Be Avoided

  • Jackets that fit too tight or lose around the torso when buttoned.
  • Improper sleeve lengths that fall too long or short on the cuffs.
  • Jackets with overly colorful, shiny or contrasting buttons that are distracting.
  • Elaborate fabric patterns, colors or geometric shapes.
  • Worn or scuffed cuffs or missing or broken buttons.

Here are some examples of conservative, professional women’s jackets that do and don’t follow these guidelines.

Skirt Suits (Proper Examples)

Skirt Suits (Poor Examples)