How to Wear a Blazer: A Practical Guide to a Wardrobe Staple

Blazers are wardrobe staples that seem to have infinite style variations. Here, we break it down for you with this easy guide to this great wardrobe extender.

If you’re interested in fashion (and you are, because you’re here), one of the things that you likely already know is that there are certain items that you can always find on the cheap, and other things that you are going to want to treat more like an investment. One such investment is the blazer.

Blazers are unique things; they’ve been around for ages, everybody knows about them, yet many women treat them as almost an afterthought in the current fast fashion climate of fleeting and disposable trends.

However, taking a cue from our fellow French and Italian fashionistas, we really ought to be taking a bit more time and attention when considering the humble blazer.

What these effortlessly stylish women know is that a well-appointed blazer can really and truly be worn with just about anything, last for decades, and ensure that you never look or feel underdressed for any situation that you may find yourself in.

The perfect example of one such woman is French model, aristocrat, and fashion designer Inés De La Fressange. Not only does De La Fressange have the certain “je ne sais quoi” that French women seem to possess when it comes to all things sartorial, but her go-to uniform, a chic mix of a slim cigarette pant, flat shoe, and yes, a tailored blazer, is predictably unwavering yet always effortlessly chic.

So how can the rest of us (non-aristocratic, mere mortals) achieve this same, effortless look with a blazer? It would seem that the possibilities are endless. In fact, there are so many possibilities in style, cut, and fabrication that for the uninitiated, the search for the perfect investment blazer could quickly become a bit overwhelming. That’s where we come in.

We’ve created this handy guide to some of the most classic and flattering blazer styles that are out there – the process of selecting the perfect blazer for you just got a whole lot easier!

The Classic Fitted Blazer

Classic Fitted Blazer

Really, if you’re looking to make an investment, this should be your jumping-off point. A fitted blazer really should be just that – fitted. However, it is important to make the distinction between the term “fitted” and the term “tight”; a mistake that is commonly made by women who are looking to create a body-friendly silhouette and are afraid that tailoring will make them look too mannish.

A properly-fitted garment should never stretch or pull anywhere (across the bust, shoulders, or neck), and you should always be able to button it, even if you have absolutely no intention of ever wearing it that way.

The jacket should fit well under the arms, and the shoulder seams of the jacket should sit right on the shoulders. There should be enough ease in the fit to allow for movement, but not so much that you feel the jacket bagging or slipping-off. The bottom of the blazer should hit just below the waistband, but never extend as far as the crotch.

There are many variations out there on the classic fitted blazer: single or double breasted, “shrunken” schoolboy jackets, ruched sleeves…the list goes on and on. However, if you’re looking to make an investment, make sure you choose something that is as classic as it comes. De La Fressange’s black, tuxedo-inspired blazer is a perfect example of this. A single-breasted blazer in a high-quality lined wool fabric and neutral color will last you a lifetime, whereas a neon green, zebra print, unlined rayon jacket? You’ll be lucky if you last the night.

One of the great things about a classic fitted blazer is that you can pair it with just about anything. One of the chicest ways to wear it is to pair it with distressed denim, although equally a pair of wide-legged trousers works well too, channeling a sort of 70’s vibe that at the moment, is bang on-trend.

The Boyfriend Blazer

Boyfriend Blazer

The boyfriend blazer is a bit of a misnomer, implying the possibility of simply raiding your boyfriend’s closet and wearing one of his blazers for the day. However, if you are going to be making an investment, it is important to realize that the elements of proper fit still do apply to the boyfriend blazer. In fact, a modern boyfriend blazer has a lot more in common with the classic fitted blazer than it does with the blazers hanging in your boyfriend’s wardrobe.

The biggest difference between a classic fitted blazer and a boyfriend blazer is the ease of the fit. While the arms still have to fit properly, the shoulder seams still have to align, and the blazer should still button without being too tight or too loose, the blazer should fit a little bit longer than a classic blazer, and the looseness of the fit should be subtle, never baggy.

With a boyfriend blazer, its best to stick to a single-breasted version, as the ease inherent in the design may make the jacket look dated in a double-breasted style. The bottom of the blazer should extend within a few centimetres of the crotch.

Choose a high-quality fabric that will drape well – nothing too stiff like corduroy or tweed. Roll-up the sleeves to give the look a purposeful, yet effortless appeal.

With a boyfriend blazer, the extra ease of fit on top make balancing the silhouette essential, so be sure to wear something slim on your lower half, whether it be a pair of skinny jeans or a fitted, midi-length skirt. Boyfriend blazers can also look incredibly chic when thrown over an evening dress in place of a jacket or wrap.

The Cropped Blazer

Cropped Blazer

While the name “cropped” can sometimes invoke fear in the hearts of women who were around for the cropped trends of the late 80s and early 90s, the “crop” in the cropped blazer is a much more subtle affair, and actually is quite a classic style.

While the classic fitted blazer hits just below the waistband and the boyfriend blazer hits in the vicinity of the crotch, the cropped blazer should hit you just at the waistline; any higher, and you may find it difficult to balance the silhouette.

The cropped jacket (provided it’s not too cropped) works well with just about anything in your wardrobe, although if you are a bit rounder in the middle, you may want to use it as a layering piece longer, flowing blouse.

When paired with skinny trousers and flats or heels, this is a look that is a great juxtaposition of classic and modern, will likely never go out of style, and is universally flattering on everyone.

The Belted or Peplum Blazer

Belted and Peplum Blazer

Choosing a blazer with a peplum or adding a belt to a classic fitted blazer is a fantastic way to instantly give your silhouette a waistline.

A peplum or belted jacket should fit very much like the classic fitted blazer, and can lend a sophisticated, almost 40s-inspired vibe to a look with very little effort expended. Belted blazers or peplums are a great choice for the office, and despite what you may have read in those how-to guides of your youth, they look great on just about every body type.

A belted or peplum jacket can be worn with either a skinny or more full-legged trouser if you’re tall, but more petite women should be wary of being swallowed-up by too much bulky material if they are belting a blazer and wearing a full trouser.

De La Fressange is a big fan of the belted blazer, and is often spotted rocking the look at fashion shows and other events. This simple styling tip is actually a great style secret worth its weight in gold.

Anyone who may have avoided blazers in the past for feeling too “corporate” or “buttoned-down” should give this one a try; belting the blazer gives is a more effortless feel and a more feminine silhouette.

While these four blazer looks really only scratch the surface of what is available out there, they are without a doubt the four most classic looks out there, and just about every chic woman who has an enviable wardrobe of blazers would likely be able to fit all of her blazers into one of these four classic categories.

Still not sure if the blazer is for you? We’d like to invite you to challenge yourself to a style-off for one.

The next time you’re out shopping, instead of filling your basket with many different things, each to suit a different occasion, try picking up a classic fitted blazer and a belt.

This is a great starting-off point for most people, and if you can envision the piece you have chosen with multiple items in your wardrobe, you will be will on your way to making a great wardrobe investment.

About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog

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