How to wear one blazer three ways

#officelooks one blazer three ways banner

The origin of a great piece of clothes

Of course, like it is often with classic wardrobe essential, the origin of the blazer is in the military. There are different opinions on how this piece of clothes got its name.

Some historians put its appearance back to 1800 to marine militrary gear. Thus, the it is often claimed that the “original classic” blazer is navy with gold colored brass buttons on the sleeves and for closure. Other historian explain that the blue and white striped sailor uniform jackets of the HMS Blazer gave the garment its name. Some fashion historians say the name referred to the bright blazing red (red guernsey) club jacket of the Cambridge Lady Margret Boat Club.

The fate of a perfect attire from sub-tribe style to fashion to classic

There are more than those three ways to wear a blazer. Thus, the coat made it into everyday life as boating jackets. Recall rowing and boating is a favorite sport in Great Britain. Even Kate Middleton, prior to becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, was on a a women rowing team. Traditionally, sports teams wear variations of guess what?

#fashionover50 mature woman in LBD with glen check blazer and statement belt, zebra pumps
Tahari glen check blazer, Nine zebra print pumps, statement briefcase and bracelet, DIY necklace, statement belt (all own), and LBD c/o Covered Perfectly

Like so often in fashion, fans considered the garment as the essential of cool. So they wore them to cheer their teams, and to impress. As so often, a sub-tribe’s It piece became mainstream, and hence also entered the work life.

Less formal than a suit, more formal than a sport jacket

What’s so great about this attire? The difference between a blazer and the jacket of a classic suit is the more casual style of the former. On the other end, the former is more formal than a sport jacket. Typically, the cloth is very durable. Blazers are often the outerwear or cover-up of a uniform in summer. Just think of bus drivers in some European countries, airline employees, school uniforms (hence the name school blazer), and of course members of clubs. In other words,

When the dressing situation asks for some sort of formal coat, when in doubt, wear a blazer. #styleadvice Click To Tweet
#styleover50 women indesaturated work outfit with gray jacket, black T-shirt dress
Side view of work outfit with Taharijacket, Nine zebra print pumps, statement structured bag,bracelet, statement belt (all own), pearl studs c/o Wendy Mignot and T-shirt dress c/o Covered Perfectly

A blazer is versatile

This coat can be styled with a skirt as a fake suit, with jeans for Casual Friday, with a dress or sheath for a meeting, or with pants as a fake suit. It’s perfect to dress up business casual office style a nudge. Why? Because it is a bit more formal than the traditional sports coat of business casual. It also can take you from work to date night. Just swap the white button-down shirt for a sexy camisole and the work bag for a clutch. For the daring swap the court pumps with pointy toe 4 inch (10 cm) heels. It even works with jeans for watching a sports event. Just make sure your T-shirt is that of the club you are supposed to cheer for or has at least a color that comes close to the colors of that team. You can find more on outfits for watching sports events at the link.

#fashionover50 woman in LBD with glen check jacket
Tahari glen check jacket, Nine black and white pumps, statement briefcase, Hermes collier de chien cuff, DIY necklace, statement belt (all own), and LBD dress c/o Covered Perfectly

A must-have to splurge on

A classic blazer is definitively a wardrobe piece to invest in.

A great, high quality, well fitting piece can give you instance style. #timelessstyle Click To Tweet
#accessories statement belt and necklace
Zoom-in on statement belt and DIY necklace

Three ways how to style a blazer

In this post, I present three styling examples. I will start with the most tricky one namely wearing this attire with a dress (see the photos above). It’s tricky because both tailored. Even when it comes to a T-shirt dress. It’s nipped in at the waist. However, it basically nails down to getting the proportions right, and that the look makes sense.

Anatomy of the dress with blazer work look

In the first photos of this post, I went with a de-saturated color scheme of black, white, and gray and just a pop of color for the belt. The interest of this look is created by the mix of pattern. The pumps have a zebra print which is very organic. It is contrasted to the very orderly geometric glen check pattern in black and gray. The little black boat-neck T-shirt dress ties the pattern together. In other words, the black grounds the outfit. The statement belt adds a pop of color and makes the outfit right for spring. Add black tight and a black or gray belt and the look would be a perfect office outfit for winter.

Swap accessories to wear an outfit in different seasons. #budgetfashion Click To Tweet
#styleover50 woman in gray, black and teal work outfit of shirt, pumps, pants, and
Tahari blazer, snake tail buckle belt, Hermes collier de chien, structured bag, Salvatore Ferragamo pumps (all own), T-shirt c/o Chico’s and cropped pants c/o White House Black Market

Fake suit look

I love the look of a suit as much as the next gal. However, on us women over 40 a suit in classic neutral colors often conveys the message of being extremely conservative, and old-fashioned, which is often associated with not being up to the tasks and not being on top of things. Thus, I advise my clients and the readers of my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife to opt for a fake suit (You can buy the book at the link).

#styleover50 woman demonstrating the stretch of the cropped #WHBM pants

I combined the blazer with my cropped pants. They are so comfortable as they have a lot of stretch (see animation). In this work outfit, I added color with a teal top, and matching pumps. I “filled” the deep v-neck with a statement necklace for a more modest look. Despite the v-neck would be totally office appropriate on a woman with a large breast.

#maturestyle woman in fake suit with pop of teal pumps and top
Fake suit with pants c/o White House Black Market, own Tahari blazer, snake tail buckle belt, Hermes collier de chien, structured tote, Salvatore Ferragamo pumps (all own), and top c/o Chico’s

Casual Friday inspiration

For Casual Friday, a blazer plus jeans and a Tee is always great instant style. You can dress the look up and add some posh with a white button-down shirt and pumps and you have a business casual outfit that also works well when you have to get out of a plane right into a business meeting.

#advancedfashion mature lady in BF, coat, white shirt and pumps
Front view of Casual Friday outfit with gray Tahari coat, Oliveo button-down shirt, statement belt, London Jean BF jeans, Hermes collier de chien, structured work bag with Esprit silk neckerchief for a pop of color, and Ivanka Trump pumps (all own)

Gray, white and denim blue is an American Classic color combination. These neutrals are perfect partners that create instant posh. The pink, orange, white and black silk neckerchief on the work bag, the orange trim and the pink toe-caps of the pumps add a touch of “spring” to the outfit. Well, these pops of color also take you out of the sea of professionals who rely on the fool proof gray, white and denim blue American Classic color combination when wearing business casual.

Never underestimate what color can do for you. #advancedstyle Click To Tweet

Going beyond neutrals

The blazer is meant to be worn in colors beyond the neutrals. It also looks great with patches, think school buy style. You can even make its color your signature style like Sarah Palin’s red blazer. Here the circle closes again. And last, but not least, another fool proof style recipe to re-visit:

Revisit the classic: Wear a red blazer with a chambray button-down, pearl necklace, bf jeans and leopard-print pumps. #dress4success Click To Tweet
#fashionover50 woman in classic American Casual Friday look with blazer, button-down shirt, pumps and jeans
Side view of American Classic Casual Friday outfit with gray Tahari blazer, Oliveo white button-down shirt, statement belt, London Jean boyfriend jeans, Hermes collier de chien, structured work tote, and Ivanka Trump cap-toe pumps (all own)

Keeping in touch

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P.S. Like to learn more about fashion history? You might also like to read about the origin of the janker or the roots of the Lice jacket.
P.P.S. When you liked the outfit recipes of this post, and want recipes for all kind of dressing situation in midlife, buy my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.

Photos: G. Kramm

© 2013-2018 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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