I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows the value of a great blazer. One good blazer can transform any separate—shorts, jeans, skirts, pants—into a complete, polished look. And the amazing thing is it doesn’t matter how casual the other piece might be…it just works.
Yesterday, I broke my workwear black streak with a plain grey tank top (a staple of mine), orange accents, and some leopard for good measure. Kind of business-y, but relaxed. A non-suit suit.
The blazer is a new acquisition; it matches the trousers I wore in Worker V: 2.3 (in Ann Taylor Pre-Fall 2011). I love this piece! It has the perfect amount of stretch, beautiful lines, sharp (but not OTT) shoulders, and it doesn’t wrinkle. I can already tell I’m going to wear the hell out of it.
Tips for Wearing Blazers
- To avoid looking like Morris Day, stick to solids and neutrals. Simple black, grey, camel, and white blazers are the most versatile.
- Choose wrinkle-free fabrics with some stretch. For a comfortable and seasonless look, a blend is what you need. Avoid 100% cotton or linen blazers. They wrinkle like crazy, and aren’t appropriate for winter. Look for a blend that includes wool and cotton, plus polyester, lycra, or spandex.
- Balance the proportions: long = skinny, short = full. Longer blazers that fall below the hip look best with slim bottoms like skinnies, pencil skirts, or bootcut trousers. Cropped or hip-length blazers complement wide-legged pants, full skirts, shorts, and trouser jeans.
- To keep the look fresh, go for unexpected pairings. Since blazers are structured, a casual tee or flowy tunic keeps it from looking part business suit. Throwing a blazer over a short or knee-length dress, as Charlize did above, is also unexpected, and works.
- Roll up the sleeves for a completely casual look. In most of the photos above, sleeves are rolled up, one of the ways to distinguish yourself from a work look. For more refined or evening look, leave the sleeves unrolled.
- Don’t button up or wear a high neckline. Again, in the photos above, a common thread is a v-neck or scoop neckline, worn with an unbuttoned blazer. That’s because high necklines and buttoned blazers either look too Miami Vice, too equestrian, or too office. Avoid bow-neck blouses, button-up oxfords, crewnecks, and turtlenecks. And wear it open.
- Snag the right fit. Blazers are meant to be fitted, but not tight. They should not pull across the broadest part of your back, or at the buttons when buttoned, even though you’re not going to wear it buttoned. If you find a blazer that’s too long in the sleeve or large in the waist, but it’s a great fabric, has good lines, and a good price, simply have it altered. Altering a blazer is a worthy investment.
- Buy matching separates when possible. Never, ever underestimate the power of a good black suit. It will take you to job interviews, church, funerals…almost everywhere. And it can be split up and mixed with other pieces, as shown above. When you find the right blazer, if you can, purchase the skirt or trousers that match.
Blazer Mixing Hall-of-Famers
Well before I started wearing blazers any other way but as a suit, these ladies—Charlize Theron and Victoria Beckham, two of my personal style icons—were sporting blazers with aplomb. The blazer is going to be a key piece again this fall, and is truly ideal for the transition from summer, so here’s some inspiration.
All images via people.com.