Blazer 101: Making blazers work for you
Blazers are on the brain, everyone. We started out the week with a blazeriffic My Outfit Monday, which led to a great follow-up question from a reader:
"I follow Deal Divas and loved your outfit yesterday. I didn't realize there was such thing as Blazer Envy till I saw it!... I think I need to try this look. Would very much value any suggestions/recommendations you have on blazers... deals, do's/don'ts/etc."
First, thanks! Second, if you haven't dipped a toe into luxurious Blazer River, it is time. Blazers are the easiest way to dress up an otherwise casual look, to give shape to your frame, to nip in your waist and hide a plethora of sins.
Here are some dos and don'ts for conquering blazers without looking like William Hurt in Broadcast News (we all saw what he did to Holly Hunter and IT WILL NOT STAND).
... focus on fit. If the buttons don't close, it's not for you. If you can't perform downward facing dog at least 60 percent of the way, it's not for you. A properly-fitted blazer should allow you to move and be comfortable, have swagger even. The peaks of the shoulders should align with your own, not halfway down your arm. If you can gather a fistful of fabric at the back, it's too big. Conversely, if the pleating in the back flares out into a V, it's too small. I have a jacket like this at home, and I love it, and I always put it on and then look at the back and sigh and hang it back up for the (fictional fantasty) day it will fit right.
... befriend your body. Take a gander in the mirror. If you are thicker through the middle, opt for a blazer with a nipped waist and a slight flare. If you're broad-shouldered, avoid anything with heavy shoulder pads or Victorian sleeve flounces. If you want to minimize your top half, pick a dark color, and vice versa. Clothes are magic!
... embrace color. Blazers come in all different hues nowadays. My favorite is a solid royal blue jacket from Dillard's that I wear all. the. time. I treat it in some ways like a neutral. Even though it's a bold color, I find it contrasts with just about everything and pulls outfits together.
... check the thrift stores. We Deal Divas have found plenty of great jackets among the racks. Deal Diva Katie found a sweet yellow courdorouy number for a few dollars at Sunshine Thrift, and I found a black velvet vintage jacket from Saks Fifth Avenue on the same trip. Don't even get me started on Deal Diva Kameel and her love of thrift shop blazers. Look first for fit (and also inspect for any disturbing spots of mystery). If you don't like the buttons, consider replacing them. If you don't like the shoulder pads, clip them out. You're only spending a few bucks, so if the fit is there, go nuts.
... buy anything packaged in a set. Let me pause now to tell you about a suit I wore to my job interview here at the Tampa Bay Times ten years ago. It was one of those sold on the rack all together for one price polyester jobs, practically screaming, "I AM NEW TO THE WORKFORCE, GUYS." It was the color of a Hershey bar and the pants had no pockets, just smooth brown from floor to ceiling like a big log of poop. I have regrets.
... get too matchy-matchy. Unless you're me circa 2003, or someone really important interviewing for a job as, you know, president of a bank, it's a more modern look to go with different shades on top and bottom. White blazer with black pants. Black blazer with charcoal pants. Blue blazer with brown pants. Pull the look together with a cohesive color in the middle via a blouse or necklace.
... spend a ton of money on trends. If you see an adorable blazer that has bows on the sleeves and corseting up the back and houndstooth lining and a fleur de lis on the lapel (this is getting horrible), look for sales or cheap versions at Target or department store clearance racks. If you're looking for a neutral blazer that will be with you for years to come, that's the time to invest.
... leave your blazer at the office. Blazers are great for going nuts at the bar at night. Throw them on over a dress or a pair of dark jeans with a sparkly top for instant class. You'll thank me when those pictures appear on Facebook tomorrow and your arms, waist and tummy are firmly locked down.
Check the slideshow above for a few of our favorite blazers! Got any other good tips to share?