It’s downright undignified how many blazers I’ve bought over the years. And will continue to buy. They immediately give shape and add authority. With the perfect blazer, anything is possible. Almost like magic, a strong, angular but subtle shoulder lifts your center of gravity, while the clean straight line of a lapel can justify the rest of your outfit.
– Rashida Jones
Ask any fashion guru worth his salt for a list of wardrobe essentials for women, and the blazer will be one of the items topping the list. There is something incredibly attractive about a well-fitting coat. It can be worn with a pair of trousers and a button-down shirt to an immensely important business meeting in the morning, and then dressed down in the evening with a pair of denims and a tank top. While its versatility is well-known, how do you pick the perfect one? With the huge range of designs and styles that exist in the market today, it can be quite the task to pick out one which is both complementary and perfect for the event at hand. While men have strict dos and don’ts for these coats, with women the rules are quite flexible. But this freedom means that you need to pay much more attention to its look and style to ensure that it can be given a chic makeover to match the occasion.
Deconstructing the Blazer
The best way to learn how to buy that immaculate blazer is to understand the science behind it. What are the different styles? How many different elements make up that perfect piece of clothing? How do you pick one that is right for you? With the image below we highlight the different aspects you need to pay attention to, and then we explain to you all the nitty-gritty.
Single-breasted or Double-breasted
When understanding this piece of clothing, your first lesson comes in learning the difference between single-breasted and double-breasted blazers. In the former, the two sides button up at the center of the torso, while in the latter the two sides overlap and button up towards one side. The double-breasted style has two rows of buttons.
What You Should Remember: While the double-breasted look is great for women who are slim and tall, the single-breasted coat is a much more classic and versatile style that can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.
The number of buttons a blazer has can completely change the way it fits and complements a woman’s body. Since there are so many styles to opt from, let’s look at each of them separately.
One-Button: Casual but difficult to pull off, an ill-fitting design can look clumsy. This style should be buttoned up at the narrowest part of your waist to fit well. If not, then there are chances that the coat will bunch up, gape between buttons, and pull uncomfortably.
Two-Button: More work-appropriate than the one-button style, this design is less discriminating, too. Since you don’t need to button it up directly at the narrowest part of your torso, the jacket has a smoother fall.
Three-Button: Mostly worn for formal occasions, this style is not very popular. Since the buttons start higher, they don’t flatter women who aren’t very tall.
There are coats that have buttons running its full length. Depending on the other related factors like the length, the cut, etc., it looks different on different women. Multi-button coats are generally extremely versatile.
What You Should Remember: Always try out coats in different styles before selecting one. It is important to wear a coat that flatters you best.
As we saw with buttons, there are different styles of lapels too. Depending on the setting of the occasion and your body type, you can pick from one of the styles described here.
Notch: A lapel style in which the collar bottom meets the top of the lapel at a degree between 75 and 90. Most single-breasted suits have this lapel style. A style that suits most body types, it is also perfect for work.
Also known as pointed lapel, it is an extremely formal style that is not a very common sight today unless you are extremely fashion-forward. It is the perfect style for people who are looking for something that has a lengthening and slimming effect.
Personally, this is a style that I love. With a rounded edge, this is an extremely formal design that is more often than not seen on men at very formal occasions, but we believe that it can be styled beautifully for an informal setting as well.
What You Should Remember: Always pick a lapel which is in proportion to your body. For petite women, smaller lapels do wonders, and on plus-sized women, dramatic lapels can be gorgeous.
Most blazers come with a slight padding at the shoulder that gives it a proper shape. A good jacket will always fit properly, and never feel stretched across the shoulders. Ensure that you don’t pick a coat with a shoulder that is too wide, as it will make you look broader than you are. It will also cause the material below the shoulder to fold. On the other hand, if too small, your arms will seem bigger than the rest of your body. This will be too tight and cause you to feel uncomfortable.
What You Should Remember: If you are uncomfortable with shoulder pads, then you can lessen them, but don’t remove them completely, as it causes the shape to change. The shoulder pads should end at your natural shoulders’ end.
Fashion experts believe that the perfect sleeve should end at the joint that connects your thumb and wrist, when you are standing straight with your arms at your sides. If you are opting for a bracelet sleeve, then it should end above the wrist, and three-fourth sleeves should end just below the elbow. The width of the sleeve should be such that it should allow for layering but it shouldn’t be too wide either. Very wide sleeves can make the coat look boxy and oversized.
What You Should Remember: Pick coats with sleeves that have functional buttons and not just aesthetic ones. This will allow you to roll up the sleeves for a slightly more casual look.
Often ignored, the arm holes of the jacket can make or break it. The width of the armholes shouldn’t be much wider than your upper arm. If it is too wide, it will look baggy, pull on the blazer’s bustline, and also restrict how much you can move your arm. If too tight, it will be plain uncomfortable, rub against your underarm, and also restrict your layering opportunities.
What You Should Remember: While buying a coat, always try it on and do some activity while wearing it to understand how well it fits. Any restriction of arm movement means that you need to rethink your pick.
The blazer should be tailored in such a fashion that you should be able to easily button it over the largest part of your waist. With one that is too big, your curves will be lost, and with one that is too small, the material will pull and strain. If you are top-heavy, you may need to buy a coat that is a size bigger so that it fits properly around the bustline. You will then need to get the shoulders and waist altered.
What You Should Remember: A good indication that you are buying the perfect coat is that when you button it up, it will glide along your curves, but not pull taut.
The length that flatters a woman differs depending on her body type, and only trying it on will help you understand if it is the correct style for you.
Hip-Length: The most widely-used length in blazers is the hip length. Traditional and flattering for most women, this style hits mid-hip.
Waist-length: This is another style that is quite popular with women. Slightly more casual, it is complementary for most women as it draws attention to the waist.
Cropped: A very casual style, these jackets are most suitable for women who have a slim, long torso. Since it tends to divide the waist area into two halves, it is not flattering on women who are short.
Long: Extremely stylish and the darling of the fashion world, this is not a very common style for daily use. It is suitable, though, for a woman looking for a longer option that covers her hips completely.
What You Should Remember: Always have a waist-length blazer in your wardrobe. It is the perfect coat to navigate both formal and casual occasions.
While these are the main components that you need to take into consideration when you are picking a blazer, there are some other pointers that will hold you in good stead.
Fabric: The material with which it is made will have a great impact on not only its durability but also its price. Depending on the weather conditions and your requirement, you can pick from different fabrics including wool, cotton, linen, silk, satin, velvet, corduroy, leather, etc.
Pockets: The placement and size of the pockets can actually change the way a coat looks. Bulky pockets can cause the hip area to look bigger, while small and angled pockets can create an impression of curves as they draw attention.
Color: If versatility is the keyword, then opt for a coat in a neutral color like black, gray, white, or even tan, as these can be worn conservatively to work or made fun for a social event. For a night out around town, opt for fun colors such as red, yellow, or even neon.
Patterns: It is not for everyone, but it can make quite a statement. From staid pinstripes and tartans in neutral colors for work settings, to bright floral and crazy animal prints for parties, the pattern you opt for depends on your comfort level.
Understanding all these details should help you select the perfect blazer. Often overlooked, a good coat can do wonders for your outfit. Just pair your favorite coat with a super feminine top, a pair of denims, and heels, and you have the perfect outfit for a Sunday brunch. Wear your blazer with graphic tee and cropped pants, and you have a look that will do wonders on a casual Friday. Not ready to give up on your favorite old coat? Make it trendy by leaving it open and cinching it with a slim belt or ribbon. There’s no end to the number of looks you can create with this multifaceted piece of clothing. Just go ahead and use these tips to buy that perfect blazer, experiment with your looks, and sit back as the compliments flow in.