Worker V: 2.5 (Tips for Wearing Blazers)

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.

Jacket: Ann Taylor • Tank: Banana Republic • Skirt: Ann Taylor • Belt: Michael Kors (similar belt here) • Bag: Topshop
Heels: Boutique 9 • Ring: YSL • Bracelets (leather): Tory Burch

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

  1. To avoid looking like Morris Day, stick to solids and neutrals. Simple black, grey, camel, and white blazers are the most versatile.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

Charlize Theron
Credit: Richie Buxo/Splash News Online
Charlize Theron
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage


Charlize Theron
Credit: Bauer-Griffin


Charlize Theron
Credit: Fame


Victoria Beckham
Credit: INF


Victoria Beckham
Credit: Limelight


Victoria Beckham
Credit: INF


Victoria Beckham
Credit: Xposure


  1. What great tips! I had a job interview in May and looked high and low for a blazer that worked well, but couldn’t anything. The tip I would add is that don’t settle for a poorly cut blazer. It will hurt more than it will help!

  2. Love your tips and tricks V! Always so full of great style advice and step by step instructions…even though I own about 10 dif. types (from working retail) I always find myself going back to the same tried and true fave…Fit is sooooo crucial when looking for the perfect blazer…you said it sista! You look FAB as usual babe!

    Peace. Love. LOL!

    Haute Khuuture Blog

  3. obviously I’m going to need to add this to my “Fall purchases” list! I have never had a blazer. Isn’t that amazing? I didn’t think they’d look good on me, but I’m realizing that I need some in-between work and going out clothes that I can wear to meet with clients. This might be perfect! And I really want to check out Ann Taylor’s new look. Everyone’s talking about it!


  4. Love this! I adore blazers, I have so many of them, but in my entire collection I can honestly say that not one is a solid color. Not smart, I know; I went through an obsession one year, I guess, and just started collecting them. I think my favorite is a black and white plaid, which is still pretty versatile. I tend to wear them a bit formally just because that’s where my coloring-inside-the-lines mind automatically goes; I love the uber casual look ala Charlize and Victoria. I’ve been wanting to experiment with wearing them since last fall, but at that point they were all packed away in storage for a move – and now I’m moving again. Can we say ‘fashion fail’?

  5. Awesome tips V! I definitely need to get blazers into my wardrobe. I always have issues when it comes to fit (and accomodating “the girls” when it closed!) I may just need to invest in a good tailor if I come across a really cute one!

  6. Great tips, V! I love a blazer paired with a casual look, like cutoffs and a worn in t-shirt. I’m often inspired by the way Kate Moss wears her blazers – so chic but with an edge!

  7. Great tips, thank you!

    I’ve been on the lookout for a blazer with a really good cut for a while. Some part of them is always too baggy on me. If I won’t find one soon I’ll get one regardless and have it custom tailored… 🙂

    I love rolled up sleeves by the way, I roll up every sleeve!

  8. I can’t wait for the weather to cool off to pull out my jackets and now you’ve reminded me I need to get a blazer! I think Victoria Beckham must have the best handbag collection in the world. Wish I knew her so I could ask to borrow that Birkin!

  9. I’ve been eyeing a red blazer at work….just trying to figure how I can justify the purchase/ work it into the wardrobe. Thank you for the helpful hints. I’ve also been eyeing those Sam Edelman pumps from your last post at my local Nordy….to shop or not to shop.

  10. Thanks for the great tips on blazers! I have a really cute one that I bought but it needs to be tailored a bit to fit properly. I have to say, as much as I love your jacket I LOVE that bag!

  11. These are great tips Vahni. Most of these work for guys too. Nothing better than a great blazer to smarten up a casual look. I love your little orange belt too. Adds a pop or colour to the workwear look but still keeps it in line for the office.


  12. I just posted about the power of a blazer! Love your outfit and I’m still swooning over that leopard print bag, I want it. The pops of orange are perfect and tie the whole look together. You choose perfectly for the hall of fame! Have a great weekend!

  13. Growing up the blazer has always been my absolute favorite piece. Taking any look from hum drum to hot in seconds flat. I recently purchased a blazer from H&M and I swear the thing gets no rest! It’s become my uniform and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Thanks for the tips, Charlize and VB have done it so well for so long there couldn’t be a better example of how to wear this style in so many ways.


  14. I’ve been obsessed with blazers lately. I only have a short sleeve blazer right now and I’ve been on the hunt for more. I tried on a gorgeous red blazer yesterday and it fit perfectly except for the sleeves. They were way too baggy!

    You look gorgeous as always and I love the touch of leopard!

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