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 people.com.

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

Comments

  1. Courtney says

    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!
    Courtney’s latest post: This is How We Do ItMy Profile

  2. Julie Khuu says

    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!

    xo-Julie
    Peace. Love. LOL!

    Haute Khuuture Blog

    Julie Khuu’s latest post: A Leopard Never Changes its WingsMy Profile

  3. Heather Fonseca says

    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!

    Heather
    Heather Fonseca’s latest post: San Francisco Street Style – AccessoriesMy Profile

  4. Casee Marie says

    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’?
    Casee Marie’s latest post: Cary Grant: Style IconMy Profile

  5. Nicole says

    V you look absolutely stunning and the addition of the leopard gives this look such pizazz! Great tips on how to mix blazers…love it!

    xo

  6. MJ says

    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!
    MJ’s latest post: Desert Island Beauty ChallengeMy Profile

  7. Madeline Quaint says

    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. Jill says

    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. KatyK says

    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.
    KatyK’s latest post: Indy Part 2My Profile

  10. Kaitlyn says

    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!
    Kaitlyn’s latest post: Bold and BootifulMy Profile

  11. Lee Oliveira says

    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.

    Lee
    x
    Lee Oliveira’s latest post: Run Lee! Run…BerlinMy Profile

  12. Caitlin says

    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!
    Caitlin’s latest post: Saver’s ScarfMy Profile

  13. Shanny says

    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.

    Shanny
    Shanny’s latest post: True Eats: Black Bean Personal PizzaMy Profile

  14. Jenmarie says

    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!

  15. V says

    Hey everyone, thanks for your comments and for sharing your thoughts on blazers. If you rock one on your blog, drop me a line!

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