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3 Looks That Prove Suits Don’t Have To Be Stuffy

Michelle Battersby from Bumble shows us how

By Anna Saunders

Looking back, all the signs were there. Celine championed them. Gucci put them on the runway. Beyonce wore them. And Meghan Markle, too. 

And in this #MeToo era where high heels have been replaced with chunky trainers and androgyny has become de rigeur, it should probably come as no surprise that the two-piece suit is firmly back on fashion’s radar.

But make no mistake: the suit of 2019 is very different to the tailoring you might remember from decades past. It is less stuffy, less bus-driver-meets-bankteller, and more fun. It is also totally wearable outside the office.

To illustrate the new “soft power” suiting, as it’s been described, we asked Michelle Battersby, the associate marketing director, APAC, of Bumble – a woman who embodies the concept of ‘soft power’ – to try a few looks.

Battersby launched Bumble, the dating and business networking app, in Australia three years ago, and the app has gone on to connect thousands of couples across the country – including, it was quickly discovered on set, our photographer, Tane Coffin, and his partner, and my younger brother and his girlfriend.


“We receive success stories daily. There’s been Bumble babies, Bumble weddings, Bumble engagements,” says Michelle.

That Bumble has been so successful in Australia is likely down to the app’s unique approach, which empowers women to make the first move, and, to Battersby herself, who is a former competitive rower – and unapologetically driven.

As a teenager, she trained up to 12 times a week, with a view to following in the footsteps of her parents, who were also high-level rowers. But eventually she realised that a career in the sport wasn’t for her.  “I realised that you will only be successful and perform at the highest level if you love it – and I didn’t. The only thing I loved was the feeling of winning.”

My sense of ambition and competitiveness has never been an individual thing. it’s always been about being part of a team and winning as a collective

After quitting rowing, she was forced to “relearn my sense of purpose”. For a while, she channeled her energies into a job at Citibank, but was beginning to drift when Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd approached her (through a friend of a friend) about launching the site in Australia.

“At Bumble every little win is celebrated. My sense of ambition and competitiveness has never been an individual thing – it’s always been about being part of a team and winning as a collective. The work we do is connected to a larger mission…  of empowering women and allowing them to go after what they want.”

Working for a modern tech company, Michelle admits the dress code can be tricky. “You can’t be fully ‘corporate’. There are also lots of events. It’s a very different way of dressing than in banking.”


Iris & Ink blazer; Iris & Ink pants; Anna Quan Inez TrenchF+H Snake Tag necklace; Petite Grand Bohemia Ring; Alias Mae Lacey Heel.

Blazers tend to be her go-to, but she admits that this Iris & Ink suit was an instant winner. “It’s comfortable and edgy but still professional.”

The Anna Quan suit was another success. “I loved this skirt because it actually reminded me of skorts!”

Stylist Aileen Marr adds that the light fabric, paired with a darker colour, makes this suit (which also comes with pants) a perfect trans-seasonal option. For summer, she adds, brightly coloured suiting (a la Beyonce) is likely to be big once again.


LEFT: Anna Quan Sienna jacket; Anna Quan Remy skirt; Kowtow Stencil top (available September); Valet tortoise shell bag; Kate Sylvester opticals, Joyce Tort Nude.  RIGHT: Bec + Bridge Franco Jacket (available Sept); Bec + Bridge Cecile TopBec + Bridge Margareta Pant (available September)F+ H Easy Rider HoopsPrimavera Animal Instincts Necklace

 The final outfit, a pyjama pant and softly tailored jacket from Bec + Bridge, stretches the definition of suiting – and is one that Michelle admits she wouldn’t normally try. “It’s nothing I would have ever thought to dress myself in but I honestly loved it.”

For more great suiting options, see below…



BY Anna Saunders

Anna is the co-founder of PRIMER. She has never owned a suit, but plans to change this imminently

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