Workplace dress codes have dramatically relaxed in the last decade. While many welcome jeans and sneakers as the new norm, one millennial has made it her mission to revive the two-piece suit.
Isabelle Heijhoff actually prepared her fashion school thesis on the business staple, which she presented to Fokke de Jong, CEO of Suitsupply, the Amsterdam-based men's suit brand. Heijhoff's ideas landed her the role of lead designer at SUISTUDIO, Suitsupply's sister company, in 2014, fresh from her graduation.
"A well-made suit can give a woman a sense of power," says the 27-year-old Heijoff about her obsession. "We really stand for women's empowerment."
While there have never been more options for workwear, office attire can still be perplexing. With so many demands in a single day, one outfit can seem too casual for, say, a presentation but too formal for desk work. SUISTUDIO wants to help uncomplicate the options. They drop a new group of suits and shirts every four to six weeks, for a total of 10 collections a year. But the brand isn't reinventing the essentials with every release. Each collection plays off and wears with the others. "Our idea is to bring things back for an encore and help people get mileage and years of life on their investment," explains Heijhoff.
Pieces can be worn separately, mixed and matched, and even dressed down with tees and jeans. A lot of SUISTUDIO's versatility and novelty stems from the hues that Heijhoff favors. While there are classic charcoal and navy styles, she isn't afraid to do a whole suit in canary, for instance, or mint or a vibrant check. Her proclivity for color that pops comes at a time when bright suiting is also trending on the streets and the runways.
"We actually did a teal semi-flannel wool suit for spring that people just went absolutely insane for, and they said, 'This is a great alternative to a navy,'" Heijhoff shares. "You can break it open a bit with white for the shirt," she advises for styling. "But in that season, you could also do a pink color, even a bright pink." Other styling cues for spring include belting coats and wearing thin turtlenecks with high-waist trousers, minus the heavy jacket.
As with its men's line, the company emphasizes tailoring while using the finest fabrics. "We take tailoring to the next level," Heijhoff says about the company's fine construction. You'll find four-button cuffs, gorgeous linings and pickstitching on its coats. SUISTUDIO's materials—cotton, wool and silk—are all sourced from high-quality Italian mills. "We source wool from sustainable farms, and everything is all animal cruelty-free," says Heijhoff.
"We're truly dedicated to the sustainability and development goals," says Heijhoff, who mentions that the company's entire model is "another way of doing it." "Introducing something that people have to start from scratch and rebuild their closet from the beginning every season really is unfair, first of all to their wallets, and it's unfair to our environment. By continuing to create all-natural and really high-quality garments, we're in a position to have a really personal sense of responsibility around that."