Fall 2012 Trends: Pantsuits

Posted on March 26, 2012

Ah, the much-maligned pantsuit. We never quite got why people put it down so readily. If you ask us, the average pantsuit is a far less egregious fashion crime than the average jumpsuit. And it’s one of the most adaptable of a woman’s clothing options. Of course, like so many things, the pantsuit can go wrong rather easily, which is probably why so many look down on it. Decades of badly fitted polyester versions in questionable prints and colors have left it with quite the image problem among fashion snobs.

And while we think there are at least a few here – the more wildly patterned and proportioned ones – that aren’t ever really going to trickle down to the masses, there are a number of pantsuits in the fall collections that demonstrate just how chic, sexy, and dressed-up a well-made and well-styled one can be.


Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Rochas

Elie Saab, Ralph Lauren, Emilio Pucci

Stella McCartney, Reed Krakoff, Jason Wu

Yves Saint Laurent, Rachel Zoe, Bottega Veneta


So, ladies, after looking at the above and mentally trying them on for yourselves, we’d like to know:

The Pantsuit: Yea or Nay?



[Photo Credit: elle.com]

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  • Yea…only if I get to wear it with a pussy bow blouse.

    • @kimmeister:disqus My Classmate’s aunt Makes $76 every hour on the computer. She has been unemployed for 5 Months but last Month her pay was $18597 Just workıng on the computer for a few hours. Read more on thıs sıte..MakeCash2.com

  • Kate4queen

    I like a nice pant suit so yea!

    • JosephLamour

      Yea as long as the suit doesn’t scream “jive turkey” like some of these.

  • ccm800

    Ummm. nay…in the final outcome for me its like a matched living room suite – it lacks creativity on the part of the wearer. Yes you can mix and max, but that is not the point of the paint suit.  

    • So that’s just a nay on suits in general, then, isn’t it? Some of us have to wear a suit for career purposes. I WISH I could get away with some of the more flamboyant ones, but alas, a lawyer to be cannot. But I’d die for the Jason Wu, Rachel Zoe, and maybe even the Elie Saab. But if I’d have my way, I’d have the Rochas, Pucci, Ralph Lauren, and Reed Krakoff too. 

      • P M

         And wouldn’t you love to wear that detail on the Bottega Veneta? I sure would!

        • I love the coat, but in that instance I just want the coat more than wanting the whole suit. 

      • ccm800

         Yes, I find them uninspired. Generally.

  • VioletFem

    YEAH to Elie Saab, Emilio Pucci, Jason Wu, YSL, and Rachel Zoe. It’s all in the fit.

    • I agree completely!  Short of an utterly wacky/hideous print, what really makes or breaks a pantsuit is fit.

    • P M


  • Nicolette Allen

    i would kill for that elie saab and i LOVE the ysl

  • out for a walk

    yea to some pantsuits for some women, but nay for me… or maybe it’s just that the idea of finding matching pants and jacket that BOTH fit me seems about as likely as a jackalope.

  • Oh, the Elie Saab and Jason Wu…*hearts*

    I also sort of love the Rochas and Ralph Lauren. Would I ever wear them as-is? God no. But they’re kind of awesome all the same.

  • prettybigkitty

    Yea for lady pantsuits.  Classic.

  • muzan-e

    Holy crap, but does the Elie Saab model look like a younger Mila!


    Well, sure. Jumpsuits are death for people like me. Long waist, stumpy legs. Wide hips, tiny waist.  Broad, small shoulders, tiny chest. At best, I’m a troll wearing a belted sack. An inexplicably well-patterned sack.  But pantsuits? With straight legs and well-fitted jackets? These are my uniform of choice.

    I’ll take the Zoe, the Wu and the Saab, please. 

    • luciaphile

       What you said. Yay for me.

    • kimmeister

      I have the exact same build as you.  I also probably have 20 pantsuits!

    •  This too funny. We all seem to like the same ones. Great minds apparently think alike…and follow TLo.

      • muzan-e

        Evidently so! Can i hire you as my Ass Kicking Adviser for days when my great mind’s not so great? *g*

    • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

      Muz, I had a really hard day.  Thank you for making me laugh so hard that I had to change clothes.  xoxoxoxoxo

  • formerlyAnon

    YEA, YEA, a thousand times YEA.

    If you’re smart enough to go with a cut that suits you rather than the current craze, only the very curviest and shortest can’t find a flattering pantsuit – and even they can if they can find someone to do alterations.

    Of course, the fact that I love jackets madly and deeply helps, since every pantsuit has one!

    • Warmheartedgirl Seattle

      Being one of those curvy AND short people, I don’t think I could wear even one of these.  Which is fine by me!  🙂

    • Me too! I look ridiculous in cardigans, like a small child whose mother dressed her for Sunday Mass, but I loooove jackets. I just wish they weren’t so much more expensive!

  • vanjar

    I’ve got nothing against a good pantsuit, but these examples aren’t doing it for me (awful prints/proportions/choice of fabric).

    • giiiirrrr

      Totally.  These are just not good.  I kind of like the 90s version of the pantsuit, with the lower-slung pant and the button down shirt tucked into it.  Corporate and a little androgynous.  But mostly I just like separates.

  • I’ve never really understood the American term “pantsuit” – is it just a suit that has trousers not a skirt?

    • formerlyAnon


    • giiiirrrr

       I would just call it a suit.  Maybe it’s generational?  Pantsuit to me evokes a jumpsuit.

      • I thought jumpsuit too. Thanks for clarifying, everyone!

    • BrooklynBomber

      Yep, but when it came first along, it was called a pantsuit because it was unusual for a woman to wear pants to work. Pants were casual wear only. The pantsuit was a way for pants to be work-appropriate. It was kind of a big deal.

  • AlexisPayne


  • Monabel

    Oh, yes, indeedy.

  • MoHub

    I’d love to be able to get away with the puple striped number.

  • Rebecca Johnson

    “…the average pantsuit is a far less egregious fashion crime than the average jumpsuit…” Boy is THAT damning with faint praise!!

    • Lori

      I had the exact same thought. A style can be better than a jumpsuit and while still being a long way from good.

  • Yea – I’ll take the Jason Wu and the Bottega Veneta. I love the Miu Miu, but I just don’t think I could carry that off with the necessary elan.

  • TheLaurenJean

    I love them all, with the exception of the plaid one. But these are GORGEOUS!

  • hughman

    It’s interesting to me the difference between a “pantsuit” and just a regular “suit” (unless anything where a woman wears pants immediately has it’s own name). I always thought the difference was whether the jacket was worn open or closed and what one wore as a blouse/shirt with it. The Miu Miu with the tie is just a “suit” to me whereas the Bottega Venetta reads more “pantsuit”. 

    • MoHub

      For many decades, a “suit” for a woman meant a matching jacket and skirt. When office dress codes loosened up in th elate ’60s, and pants were permitted in business settings, the “pantsuit” came about to distinguish it from the version with a skirt. Of course, pioneers like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn were wearing pantsuits 30 years before they became acceptable “real women’s” wear.

      And late in the 19th century, the National/Rational Dress Society in the UK tried to promote the comfort of pants for women.

      • hughman

        thanks! that makes sense! 

        • MoHub

          Well, I’m old enough to have lived through it. The ’60s, not the ’30s, that is!

      • BrooklynBomber

        I just posted something like that, above, but I see you beat me to it. 
        BTW, in 6th or 7th grade we protested to try to get permission to wear pants to school. It was a big megilla. These young whippersnappers who grew up always wearing pants everywhere don’t realize that women did NOT wear pants to work, and girls did NOT wear pants to school.

        • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

          Oh don’t I remember that!  So then we had to wear shorts under our little dresses.  And then there was the advent of the Skort.  And then there were Gauchos.  OMG.

          • BrooklynBomber

            Oh, yes, the Gaucho. In high school one girl was brave enough to wear them and was teased mercilessly. 

            By h.s. we could wear pants. In elementary, it was once a year, on Play Day. In 5th grade one boy – a real class clown – said that if the girls can wear pants, the boys should be allowed to wear skirts. Made a big fuss about it, and don’t you know: he wore a skirt on Play Day. It was all for laughs, a big joke. 

    • It’s understandable that a man would automatically consider a woman’s outfit with a pair of pants and matching jacket a suit, the same as a man’s suit. But women have the additional option of a skirt with a matching jacket, thereby 

  • Emily Rook-Koepsel

    absolutely yea the pants suit is fabulous.

  • Gener1c

    Absolutely yea!  But I am waiting on bar exam results … so there’s that.

    • alyce1213

      Good luck!

    • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

      oh lord.  get a gin and tonic.  best of luck.

  • Warmheartedgirl Seattle

    No.  Nay.  Never.  The one that made me laugh is the YSL with Big Bird silhouette – I thought, well that’s too bad, they sent her down the runway with a big ole stain on her hip.  Then I saw the one on her leg, and all the rest of them.  Hilarious!

    • RebeccaKW

      All I see on the YSL is a bird…*ahem* marking his territory.  Yuck.

  • mozzer0906

    I like a pant suit for the right occasion, far better than jumpsuits.  The Rachel Zoe one is super hot too!

  • gdougs

    The Elie Saab. Stunning. BUT I don’t have thousands of dollars therefore, I probably won’t ever look that fabulous in a pantsuit. 

  • RebeccaKW

     a lot of these are great.  Exception: top row middle.  all i see is austin powers.

    I would wear some of these-the navy velvet one (3rd row, right), the off-white (2nd row. left). 

  • I would agree with other commenters that say, yea, if I could find a jacket and pants that match AND fit.  Perhaps spending a bit more gives you to option to buy separately.  I avoid at all costs, regardless.  When you’re tall, pants and jackets are a struggle in themselves to find that fit properly.  That being said, I do love the majority of the suits shown here, but you’d have to have a great sense of style to bust out in a crazy patterned one.  I can see my colleagues looking at me now when I walked in in that YSL with birds on it……what was she smoking?

  • janetjb

    The Jason Wu has been calling me since the ERW post

  • AC

    Yea! I wish I had more opportunities to wear them 🙁

  • Beth G

    If I had the body, I’d wear that Ralph Lauren plaid every day, all day, for every single fricken occasion I could think of… including lunch at my kid’s school.  That is beyond fabulous.

  • yea.  I think it’s awesome.

  • granddelusion

    I’ll take the pantsuit over the jumpsuit.

  • TieDye64

    Yea, IF the fit is perfect and style is classic, chic.

  • yeah, baby!

  • hellkell

    I would wear that Miu Miu one–vertical stripes are everyone’s friend! Especially in some different colors.

  • I *love* pantsuits. When I wear one for a meeting or presentation, for some reason I feel powerful and confident in a way that I don’t when I’m wearing a skirt suit. I also have really long legs, so I think it works better for me than it might for others.

    The key is that I wear pant suits with subtle feminine detailing, like a black “power suit” with pale pink pinstripes, a fuchsia silk blouse, or killa emerald green patent leather pumps with an all-black pantsuit.

    But as our fairy godfathers TLo would say… FIT. IS. EVERYTHING.

  • Jessi03

    YEA!  Love the Miu Miu, the Elie Saab, and the Rachel Zoe.  So cute!

  • another_laura

    Oh abso-freaking-lutely YEA to the pantsuit!  I would wear without much modification numbers 3, 4, 6, 8, and the entire bottom row.  I’m turning down the Stella McCartney only because that’s too much of that print even for me, who likes blue.

  • sherrietee

    I wear them all the time.  Usually Ann Taylor.  For these, I’ll take Rochas, Elie Saab, Reed Krakoff, Jason Wu, YSL and Rachel Zoe.

  • Kristy Evans

    The Elie Saab is to DIE. I like the Jason Wu as well. I love a lady in a pantsuit. 

  • So I guess tragic eye makeup is in, too?

    •  I think it’s absolutely required! :]

  • alyce1213

    I love a good pantsuit, the operative word being “good.”  
    Fit-fit-fit! Cut-cut-cut! Don’t want to look boxy or butch.
    Most of these are glorious; some not so hot: LV, Miu-Miu (Austin Powers!), Stella.

  • ballerinawithagun

    Yea! I wear pantsuits all the time.

  • lalahartma


  • BrooklynBomber

    Yea, and yay. Not all the ones shown here, but philosophically, definite yea.

  • mjude

    i say YEA, even tho i could never wear one damnit

  • BrooklynBomber

    Whose is the in the thumbnail? 

    • TobiannReinhard

      Prada Fall 2012 – I had to look it up here because I am coveting the shoes and bag!

      • BrooklynBomber

        Thanks – I thought it was Prada but I wasn’t sure. 

  • guestela


  • Beverly Nash

    I don’t like them unless the cut and /or proportions are very different like the dark blue pictured last. Otherwise they just look boring and uncomfortable.

  • Yea – but only the ones that aren’t cracked out! For example, Elie Saab, Reed Krakoff, Jason Wu and Rachel Zoe are all eminently wearable by real people. The Saab one in particular makes me swoon! The rest are just too over the top for wearability, but some of the jackets would work with less extreme pants (I’m looking at you, Ralph!).

  • SewingSiren

    Remember the zip front hip length tunic type pantsuits all the teachers wore in the 70’s ? Made of polyester double knit? How uncomfortable those must have been in the +100 degree heat of an un-airconditioned class room in South Texas. But space age stylish to be sure.

  • miagain

    When does a suit becomes a pant suit?  Because in my mind they are two entirely different things.  
    My idea of a pant suit is a dress-like, tunic top, in the same fabric as the pants.  Not merely matching pants and jackets.

  • j_anson

    As someone who regularly has to wear one for, you know, work… yea? They’re de rigeur for working women in many sectors. I’m actually not crazy about a lot of these, though; the white one in the third row is sleek (though I’d never wear all-white) and I think the Rochas and Ralph Lauren are fun though impractical (I actually used to have a Ralph Lauren suit that was fairly similar but in a MUCH more toned-down tweed). But many of these are trying too hard to add busy frills onto not-actually-very-flattering silhouettes. A woman’s pantsuit, like a man’s pantsuit, should in most cases aim for a sense of sleek, understated power; a woman’s pantsuit, unlike a man’s pantsuit, should be tailored in a way that takes curves into account. A lot of these are failing on goal 1, and a number of them are failing on goal 2.

    That Emilio Pucci is just… awful. Turtlenecks under suits always tend to look bulky, and when it’s a bland turtleneck under a horribly saggy suit with padded shoulders and pants cut at the perfect length to stumpify your legs – yech. (The model is giving a perfect demonstration of why padded shoulders don’t actually work in practice even IF you like the silhouette – as soon as you have to carry a bag, they go all lop-sided and you look like you have serious back problems.)

  • mhleta

    Look at the variety of gorgeosity here. How could anyone say ‘nay’?

  • Yea!  And, may I please have the Pucci?

  • BuffaloBarbara

    Ew.  Some part of my head wants to start singing YMCA and hanging up mirror balls.  NOT a good association.

  • greyhoundgirl

    I have no problem with pantsuits and some of these are beautiful but I keep picturing the jackets with black pants or a black pencil skirt and boots.

  • Sunshine16

    Yea.  In fact, I’ll take the Ellie Saab, the Emilio Pucci & the Jason Wu to start.  I also need to have that Ralph L blazer (you can throw in the matching pants if you must).
    I cannot guarantee that I won’t wear them all as separates though, darlings!

  • Yea, if I suddenly morphed into Evan Rachel Wood.

  • Laura Valentine

    I LOVE the ones that are different scales of the same print, and I would wear that orange and purple striped one allll day long.  But I’m the kind of person who wears things like orange pants with bright purple and green tops, so no one should take fashion advice from me.

  • chitowndg

    I LOVE pantsuits.  I covet the Rochas to wear to a party or on a date, although I admit I would wear that jacket with classic black pants to the office.

  • Call me Bee

    Always yea.  I think pantsuits got a bad rap when Miss Hillary started wearing them–and she is just not built for them.  They always seemed a bit baggy  and short in the leg, so they made her look stumpy and broad.  So the rest of the country just stayed away.  But I’ve always loved them, and had MTM in mind when wearing them.  But then, I’m almost 6 feet tall, so they’re ok for me. 

  • MilaXX

    I pretty much like all of these.  Exceptions: the Vuitton is just ugly, I dislike the hem length on the Pucci and the pattern on the YSL would take a Cate or a Swinton to pull off effectively.
    YEA for me.

  • Judy_J

    I do like some of these pantsuits, but having lived through the polyester pantsuits of the early ’70’s, I can’t see myself wearing them again.  However, if the young women like them, I say YEA.  Fashionable and comfortable, and you never have to worry about flashing your hoo-hah.

  • CatherineRhodes

    YEA. I really love them.

  • snarkykitten

    pants suits work exclusively for skinny, long legged amazons

    much like the rest of fashion, so I don’t get why everyone bitches about them.

    So I can’t wear one. whoopee.

    Can’t wear 99.9% of anything anyway without looking like a moron

  • lesmaha

    these are yummy–Yea!!

  • Sara__B

    A pantsuit often looks best with the pants and the jacket worn separately, especially if there are strong prints involved. So YEA to a pantsuit as wearable separates, but mostly NAY to them worn as a matched set.



  • Scarlet39

    The Elie Saab, Reed Krakoff, or even Rachel Zoe?  yes!

    The others?  NO!

  • kirkyo

    Definite yea to the Rochas one. I like the use of both the big and small print.

  • erinbinek

    I say Elie Saab and Jason Wu yay, all the rest…hell, nay.

  • ryaddictive

    oooo.  so many of those are SO TILDA.

  • youngkat1

    T&L, I love the long skirt/jacket combos on downton abby – will they ever be “in” again?

  • jilly_d

    Elie Saab = WANT WANT WANT.

  • Zippypie

    I LOVE pantsuits.  Give me MORE!

  • Rrroza

    I was ready to say nay until I actually saw these, which are almost all pretty fab. Rochas! And Saab in a diff color for me

    I don’t understand the YSL print. Looks like a stain?

  • sleepycat

    the YSL looks like someone had sex on it. Sorry for the image but that is what it looks like.

  • saanrio

    Yea for some of those, nay for others… but that plaid!  OMG!  Amazing.

  • Bozhi

    I love them, and they can also be worn as separates.

  • Anathema_Device

    I’ll vote yea, but I think the print ones are harder to pull off for the average woman.  I also think so many of us have veered away from being “too matchy” in recent years, so it is hard to wear one fabric head to toe.

    Many of these are just fantastic. My favorites are those by Rochas, Saab, Pucci, and YSL.

  • Nonnah


  • BrightsideSusan

    Mostly yes – the top under the jacket can make or break the look.

  • jjfg

    Maybe the white (but not in white) in the third row – otherwise, hell to the naw.

  • Lisa

    Yaaay!!  I like all of them, to be honest – they have the range from being totally sophisticated to funky and very fun.  

  • YEA but it’s so dependent on the cut and colour.

  • PeaceBang

    Lauren Hutton in the Reed Krakoff. My world is complete. YAY. 

  • Lynn Landry

    I want the Miu Miu one.

  • tinyredlocks


  • gabbilevy

    I want that Elie Saab right. now. 

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    Yes!  I always thought a well-cut pantsuit was a good item in my wardrobe, and I’ll definitely take it over the jumpsuit.

  • Yea! I need a Rochas, an Elie Saab and a Jason Wu too! Seems to be a trend among the minions. I do wish however that there were more that were cut like the Rochas or even the Rachel Zoe – a little edgier; more casual and less dressy. There are several that are cartoonish (talking to you Louis Vuitton) and some great red carpet-worthy looks (Miu Miu or McCartney) but I love the simplicity of a throwing on a chic suit for every day.

  • I have to admit, I like the simpler pantsuits. The ones with the crazy patterns just look gimmicky to me.

  • CostumeChic

    Ralph Lauren’s is to DIE for! Plaid and tiger baby.

  • DominoEstella

    The first one is my favorite and I LOVE those purple shoes.  If I was younger, thinner and had a paying job I would totally wear that pantsuit and rock it.

  • R. L.

    Some are Yea, some are Nay.  I like the YSL, Rochas, Rachel Zoe, Pucci, Stella McCartney and Krakoff the most.  I think the Louis Vuitton and the Miu Miu are ugly.    The Jason Wu seems kind of bland.  The Bottega Veneta is growing on me.  I would wear the Rochas.

  • YEA! Now I’ll take the Miu Miu, Elie Saab, and Jason Wu please.

  • DeTrop

    Good grief.  Here we go again.  After all this time wearing separates and nothing matchy, matchy we’re back to the pant suit. Having gotten that off my chest, I like the Elie Saab and Rachel Zoe.  Does anyone remember the Nehru jacket?
    I had a pant suit with a Nehru jacket back in the day.  I have to say the jacket length was perfect and it made me look slim.   (No easy thing I can tell you).   

    • MoHub

      I’ loved my Nehru jacketed suits in the late ’60s. As you say, they made one look taller and slimmer, and with the mandarin collar, it wasn’t necessary to wear a blouse underneath if one didn’t plan on opening the jacket. The Nehru also had an ageless quality and looked age-appropriate on everyone from young adults to the middle-aged.

  • Yay.

  • P M

    In the financial industry, the pantsuit is de rigeur. They’d look at you funny if you suggested that there are other options for workwear.

  • ErinSara5

    I like it, but it looks good (fashiony) on so few!

  • Line forms behind me for the Bottega Veneta

  • Love the Jason Wu and the YSL suits.

  • DCSheehan

    Yes if they look like the Miu Miu suit. Wow!

    But I don’t think the ‘someone peed on my suit’ look will take off YSL…

  • cmb92191

    I love the Saab, Pucci, Krakoff, Wu (only if I lost a some boob),  and Zoe.  The YSL is interesting but those splotches look like a bad dye accident.   I’d wear that Krakoff right now to Target.

  • PhillipWilde

    The right pantsuit on the right gal, YEA.  You just have to be careful with the pairing.

  • minnye

    My professional life demands jeans and boots much of the time, but I love a smart blazer.  I’d be happy if interesting suit separates trickle down.

  • DeborahLipp

    It always shocks me when Stella McCartney produces something I like.

    • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

      i know.  I typically abhor her stuff.

  • Cathy S

    I think you’d have to be 7 feet tall to wear that Ralph Lauren plaid, but my god it’s gorgeous. I like the Elie Saab, and the Jason Wu,  and the jacket of the Bottega Veneta. I even like the Stella McCartney, although I imagine it would be hard to pull off. Pant suits are nice.

  • Susan Crawford

    Elie Saab, Reed Krakoff, YSL, Bottega – stand back everyone, I’m coming in hard on them! YEA to the max on them. Some of the others? (And I mean YOU, Miu Miu and Ralph Lauren.) Meh.

    I had a fantastic pant suit from Saks back in the day, and wore it to meet my mother for lunch at La Cote Basque. And I was not admitted. No pants on OUR ladies who lunch. I had to run over to Bloomingdales and buy a skirt so I could have a salad and a creme brulee with mom. God, times have changed!

  • Louise Bryan

    Dave Barry once referred to skirted business suits as “modified nun.”  I definitely prefer pant suits for the office.  Elie Saab, oh yeah!  Some of the others, oh no!

  • Yay!

  • Scott Isaacs

    Yea. I’m not even a woman here, but I fell madly in love with the pantsuit Mondo made for All Stars. And these are just following…uh…suit. *ducks to avoid rotten tomatoes* I would love to see more pantsuits out there. Classy and sassy.

  • Yea.

  • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

    NOoooooooooooooooooo!!  Doesn’t anyone remember the 70’s?  OMG Doesn’t anyone remember Mary Tyler Moore, or worse, RHODA?   Please no.  I don’t care how well it’s fit.  NO.   Also the top model looks like she’s Pantsuit of the Living Dead.  See?  It’s a trap!  Go Back!

  • Sally Brownson

    There are good pantsuits, but nearly all of these look extremely dated. When they make a pantsuit for the modern woman, then post again and we’ll see.

  • YEA! YEA! YEA! The Miu Miu & the first one you showed are AWESOME!!!

  • Allison Borst

    I like several, but something about the print on that YSL one really just makes it look like she spilled her coffee six or seven times.