Professional Wardrobe Staples: the Femme Blazer
Investing in a perfectly fitted blazer is a wise move. Being a highly structured piece, a fitted jacket provides polish to a look while remaining a step down from a full suit. A good blazer is timeless and versatile; a must-have for interviews and equally suited to elevate a basic t-shirt and jeans into a put-together ensemble. Blazers run the full price range, and while you sometimes get what you pay for, occasionally you can find a bargain blazer that really pulls its weight.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for a blazer:
- Choose your fabric based on style and warmth. Jersey is a bit casual, while wool reads more formal. To stay warm in cooler months, wool and flannel are a great bet; linen is perfect for summertime or warmer climates (hello SoCal). Synthetics can cover the whole spectrum in both style and warmth, so check the thickness and breathability of the synthetic before making a purchase.
- Tailoring is often necessary. Off the rack, the jacket should fit you perfectly in the shoulders, but sleeve length and waist size can be easily tailored. You can expect to spend an extra ~$10-40 here, depending on the complexity of the modifications. (Don't skimp on tailoring - an ill-fitting blazer defeats the purpose of owning a structured item. It will look sloppy if the fit is wrong.) Info on proper blazer fitting can be found here, with some extra female-specific pointers here and here (e.g., women's sleeves should be a touch longer than men's).
- Most blazers require dry cleaning. However, I have managed to hand wash some fabrics (including cotton and wool) in a bathtub, taking care not to distort the blazer’s shape at any point during the process. (If you hand wash a wool item, use a gentle wool cleanser like this one.)
- There’s an optimal way to fold and pack a blazer for travel. This is how it should be done.
- Buy the nicest blazer you can afford in a timeless silhouette. A quality blazer should last many years. Though mid-range blazers are expensive (let’s face it, $200 is a lot to drop on a single clothing item), to me the mileage you get from it truly justifies the investment. Higher costing blazers will generally have nicer fabric, structure, and stitching - this improves both their look and how they hold up over time. Just be sure to avoid trendy shapes (e.g., the oversized 90’s look that is currently coming back) in order to maximize your purchase.
If you’re in the market for a good femme blazer, below are some options at a range of price points. Homme options will be coming shortly.