Suit up! I tried 5 high street suits and I felt like a total boss 5 years ago

Suit up! I tried 5 high street suits and I felt like a total boss

Hillary Clinton isn't the only woman who can wear a pantsuit.

Yes, the rise in popularity of the classic pantsuit has been noticeable on every red carpet and street style blog for a number of years now.


Everyone from Hillary herself to my forever style crush, Alexa Chung, has proudly rocked the pantsuit and naturally, I want to follow suit (sorry, I couldn't resist).

So, as always, I headed straight to Instagram and Pinterest for some inspiration and to see how the non-celebs are wearing the style.

And while initially, I thought my suit shopping would consist of just all-black or block colours, through extensive online creeping, I realised that suits nowadays come in all shapes, sizes and seriously class prints.


Yes, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of pantsuits and it got me even more excited to hit the high street to see what they had on offer.

River Island

Check Cuffed Blazer - €75, Check Lace Hem Cullottes - €55


My first stop brought me to River Island. Having seen verified gas bitch and serious style queen Doireann Garrihy rock a number of suits from there, I knew it would be a safe bet to find some quality options.

From outside the door, I could already see this suit calling my name. Weak for a pair of culottes, I grabbed a size 14 in both and headed to the dressing room.

Pairing this with the slogan t-shirt conveniently hanging right next to it, I wanted to keep this look very monochromatic.


As I zipped those culottes closed, I knew two things straight away - I should have picked up a size 12 and that if said size 12 was on the rail, I would be getting them and taking them home with me.

While the print of the jacket was really on trend and quite rich looking, I thought the fit of the jacket cheapened the look just a little. With a bigger bust and a narrow waist, getting the right collar and fit on a blazer is key for me.

So, while I loved the idea of this outfit and generally how it looked, it just didn't scream 'purchase!'.

River Island


Floral Print Blazer - €30, Floral Print Tapered Trousers - €20

On my way to the dressing rooms, peering through the mess that is the sale section, I could see the very suit Doireann wowed her followers with at an event earlier this year.

With a seriously impressive reduction, I kept my fingers crossed that my size was there. Settling for a size 14 in the jacket and a size 16 in the trousers, I decided to try it on and work with what was on offer.

The trousers were way too big, but we'll ignore that. The jacket, while very eye-catching, had no form of fastening at all.

So, awkwardly holding it closed, I had to just imagine what it would look like on its own.

I thought this would be an immediate write-off thanks to my strong allergy to bright prints, but I was pleasantly surprised in that I didn't totally hate it.

Totally outside of my comfort zone, and nearly certain I would be too embarrassed to even take pictures, I was yet again learning the lesson that I should try everything on before judging it.

However, I wasn't mad about the fit and I knew I'd never be arsed bringing it to The Zip Yard to get a button of some sort put it, so back to the sale section it went.


Red Blazer and Suit Trouser 

Heading out for this experiment, I knew I wanted to try on a red suit. Everyone and their mother has been spotted rocking the bright coloured two-piece over the last year and I wanted to see if us mere mortals could do the same.

Struggling to see any red suits in the few shops I visited, I finally came across this number in H&M.

With one pair of trousers left in a size 10, I'm going to be honest and tell you that these pants did not even pull up over my backside.

Trying to channel my inner Kristen Stewart, I wanted to try out the effortlessly cool and casual way of styling the suit that I had loved so much on Instagram.

So, I grabbed a big grey chunky knit and a pair of white runners to complete the look.

While I was giving the seams on the trousers a serious road test, and the jumper would have definitely looked better if it was longer, I again loved the idea of this outfit.

My execution was off the mark but I'm no longer completely convinced that this style isn't for me.


Double-Breasted Pinstripe Jacket - €79.95, Pinstripe Palazzo Trousers - €49.95

Hoping to spot that yellow suit I'd seen all over my Insta feed, I headed to Zara with high hopes that I'd find something really cool.

However, underwhelmed with the options available in the store I visited, I grabbed this masculine grey pinstripe option.

With a suit like this one, fit is so incredibly important. And the fit was not right.

Wanting to embrace my inner Shania Twain, I thought a suit with as much masculine detailing as this would look really good without a top underneath.

Yes, if the celebs can go topless underneath their suits, so can I - or so I'd hoped.

Not convinced, and hoping a pair of heels might do the trick, the sales assistant brought me shoes and a tip.

She suggested the look would be really cool with my hair pushed back (if none of you are thinking about that Mean Girls quote right now, I'll be shocked).

So, feeling like Mrs Potato Head, I snapped a picture with my hair pulled back and do you know what? I don't hate it.

While there are definitely improvements to be made, I think the simple touch of changing my always-the-same hair made this suit a lot better.

Marks and Spencer

Tuxedo Blazer - €95, Tapered Trousers - €49

With all hope nearly lost of finding a suit that I loved, I headed to good old Marks and Spencer. People often raise an eyebrow when I say I shop there, but honestly, I've found some absolute gems in there over the years.

Anyway, I digress. In disbelief, I realised I had yet to try on an all-black ensemble; was I feeling OK?

So, of course, doing my due diligence, I grabbed this tuxedo blazer in a size 14 and the matching trousers in a size 12 and headed to the dressing room.

Again, wanting to rock the topless-under-blazer look, I went in with just the two pieces.

However, while others might be OK with it, I'm not about showing my bellybutton off in public.

Running out onto the shop floor, I quickly grabbed a lacey top from the lingerie section and a pair of court shoes before scrambling back to the dressing room before anyone noticed I wasn't wearing shoes (or a bra).

Round two of trying on and sound the trumpets, we had a winner. You can tell from my giddy face that I was a fan of this look.

While my outfit was all black, the look was full of different textures from lace to silk to whatever the suit jacket was made from.

And as cheesy as it sounds, I felt like an absolute boss.

But we were only 90 percent there.

I felt the trousers of this suit let me down. With a sports-luxe style elasticated cuff at the end, I think a pair of high-waisted, straight-leg, slightly cropped trousers would have had me sold.

So, while it was technically a 'no', it was a 'hell yes' to the idea that one day soon, I will be buying a black suit.

Heading home with not a single purchase, many would call this experiment a failure - however, I would most certainly not.

I was certain I would hate everything I tried on. I was certain I'd be saying 'I can't pull this style off'. I was certain I'd be writing a very negative piece, warning all of you to avoid trying on suits for the sake of your self-confidence.

But I was wrong. While I didn't find 'the one', I now know that there is a 'one'.

Yet again, I felt the confidence boost of experimenting with a style I've lusted after for months. Yet again I've realised that no style is off-limits just because I'm not a size eight.

And yet again I've learned that stepping outside of my comfort zone can be very, very rewarding.