This blog post is part of a ten part series titled: “Parisian Flair and the history of the pieces that make them so iconic”. Search #stylehistory for more posts on essential pieces that should be included any stylish wardrobe.
Tom Ford knows how to create a beautiful blazer. A blazer is that easy third piece of an ensemble that completes the look. Whether short and boxy, long and oversized or fitted and curve-hugging, a blazer can feature a double breasted closure with two rows of buttons or a simple tie, defining the waist with a cinch. There are as many styles as there are shapes of a woman and finding your perfect blazer is like finding the last fit of a 1000 piece puzzle – quite a challenge but so satisfying when you find your favorite one. Fit is important to portray taste; find a blazer that fits the biggest part of your torso and then have it tailored. Or for true luxury have an entire blazer made bespoke – to fit your exact measurements (men do it all the time!). Let’s talk about material: everyone should have a classic black or navy blue blazer to begin with. Wool, silk, or a poly combination are all good options but make sure the material looks rich. Velvet reflects light, so it is a flattering fabric to wear around your face and brightens your demeanor. After your initial dark-neutral choice, your next purchase for a blazer that goes with everything should be your best shade of white. And finally for something fun, choose a pop of bright color or a shiny or shimmery texture like sequins. Styled with a t-shirt and jeans, a silver sequin blazer just makes everyone look up and take notice. Style seekers take note: a blazer is defined by its lapel, too wide, too thin or even non existent can date a piece faster than an expiration date on a carton of milk!
Throughout history, women wore capes to keep warm up until the classes with money to spend on clothes bought jackets or top coats, Spencers, and riding coats. The blazer as we know it now was created in the mid 19th century, and was worn by men to distinguish team colors for a crew regatta. Have you ever wondered where the name J. Crew came from? University clubs, in multiple bright colors and patterns, showed off their fealty by wearing their team colors in a loose fitting wool flannel jacket, we now call it a blazer. The style caught on and along with a proper suit, blazers became a fashion piece in any gentleman’s closet. In the early twentieth century women began to style blazers as their own. Always one to borrow from the boys, Coco Chanel created a wool boucle suit for women, which consisted of her short, boxy jacket and trim pencil skirt. In the 1970’s YSL introduced Le Smoking, and after years of being pinched and poured into garments that required shape wear from the 1950’s, women were able to wear an oversized jacket and loose trousers that camouflaged their shape if they chose to. The 1980’s style presented us with jackets that included oversized shoulders, worn with leggings, slouchy socks and Reebok sneakers. At the turn of the new century, Chanel had a revival moment when supermodels wore the top half of their precious Chanel suits and a simple tee underneath, with 7 for all Mankind jeans and pointy toe pumps. Alexander McQueen started on London’s Bond Street working in a men’s tailor shop. His first collections were centered around a dark colored blazer in some form that showed a woman’s curves. A true juxtaposition of the masculine feminine that Mademoiselle Chanel would have loved.
How to style it: Blazers today can incorporate style from everything mentioned above. Find your perfect fit in a stylish blazer and wear it confidently over anything. Jackets tossed over the shoulder give off a more stylish yet casual look. To create a curvy shape, be sure to position the button or closure of your blazer at the thinnest part of your torso, somewhere between under the bust line and the top of your trousers. If your jacket is too short for the trousers you want to pair it with, create a longer hemline with an untucked shirt or even a thin vest that hangs below the hemline. Watch your proportion numbers; ideally top one-third to bottom two-thirds will give an illusion of having long legs.
Brands low to high: Zara, Theory, Cinq a Sept, Smythe (the Duchess blazer is my favorite), Dolce & Gabbana, McQueen, Balmain, and my dream item of clothing: a couture Dior Bar Jacket made exactly for me in Paris!
Bonus style tip: These items can be styled as you would a blazer, and it will change up the feel of your ensemble: a leather motorcycle jacket, nylon bomber, denim jacket, army green utility jacket, down vest, even something in leather/pleather or faux fur.