Finding the perfect black blazer can be daunting, but year after year, season after season, the staple of the perfectly fitted black blazer lives on. It can dress up jeans and dress down a cocktail dress, all with a flair of sophistication and cool. A well-fitted blazer is a Must-Own Item. So you're like, "DUH. Obvious. But what makes the perfect blazer and how can I get my hands on one with my measley pittance?"Most perfectly fitted black blazers will:
- Have a shoulder seam that hits right where your shoulder begins to curve;
- Have sleeves that are not too roomy and err on the side of too short rather than too long;
- Have details that fit your style personality;
- Be of one or two button construction for max flattery;
- Be right around hip-length;
- Be of decent construction and lined.
Now there are exceptions to some of these rules, but when it comes to fit, do not waver. Keep your eye on the prize. Even that oversized blazer trend you've seen lurking around the corner presupposes a decent fit at least in the shoulders. But I'm going to run with the assumption that you're looking for a blazer in order to look put together, not like just another fashion victim.Blazer Trends for 2010:
- Menswear. This season, menswear is for women too. Details like pinstripes, shoulder pads and shawl lapels are great for adding a dash of debonair to a frilly dress.
- Military. Epaulets, brass buttons, vents and double breasts lend some authority to your daintiest frocks.
- Texture. Herringbone, velvet, nubs and slubs. Texture is the best way to add richness and interest to any ensemble, even if you're not feeling entirely adventurous that day.
- Feminine Details. Cinched waists, puffed shoulders, darts, pleats, cropped shapes, and decorative buttons turn this menswear staple into anything but.
Where to Buy:
- Thrift Stores. I recommend this option most for women sizes 0-6 because although it's not impossible to thrift a fitted blazer in the women's or men's department, child-sized (read: cropped!) school uniforms in near-perfect condition are easy to find in any medium to large sized city. One of my favorite blazers is a double-breasted number I scored in the Wee Lads department of a thrift store for $4, which has delightfully 3/4 length sleeves.
- Your Own Closet. Unless you've been stuck in an unemployed fashion rut for decades, you probably already own at least seven (OK, I'm projecting) almost perfect blazers to your name. Take them into a trusted tailor and get them altered to be perfect for you.
- Retail Discount Stores. Great on-trend blazers can be found easily at Target, Old Navy, Forever 21, and Charlotte Russe. My Old Navy velvet cropped blazer with adorable puffed shoulders is my go-to on any day too warm for vintage leather and cost less than $35.
- Consignment Boutiques. Now, for most vintage missions, I don't recommend consignment shops. They're overpriced and usually edited by aging soccer moms. In your quest for the perfect blazer, however, your local boutique is worth a try - these stores are often stocked with the working professional in mind, and tend to feature a glut of suits and blazers.
- Higher End Mall Store Sales. This is the best option for ladies size 8 and up to find great discounts when the smaller sizes have long sold out. The best seasons to hunt for a blazer on sale is winter or summer. Strategically stalk the clearance racks at Express, The Gap, American Eagle, Club Monaco, J. Crew and Banana Republic and score some high quality for cheap.
- Online. This is my last recommendation, for women at least, because while there is a plethora of great black blazers online, most online shops do not offer details like shoulder measurements and sleeve lengths. And everyone knows that a good fit is paramount for blazers. But if you are feeling fiscally adventurous, check out my list of the Top 8 Black Blazers Under $70. Good luck!