I come from a long line of blazer-haters. Well, my mom and sister both hate them, so maybe not exactly a line. Maybe it’s just those two specific people in my family. I’ve seen my mom in many classic jackets over the years, but none of them with a collar, and my sister shuns blazers and similar styles completely.
It didn’t help that in my mind, blazers belonged in the box of stuffy corporate clothes that never quite felt like me. The only blazer I owned for the first 30 years of my life was part of an Ann Taylor navy suit I bought for my first round of post-college interviews.
Clearly, I had a lot of blazer baggage.
I was well into my 40s when I hesitantly spent $24.99 on a fitted black blazer from H&M, and my whole perspective changed! Suddenly, I had new ways to wear old clothes. I simply topped them with the blazer and the entire outfit was different. It defined the waist on flowy dresses, added structure to baggy tops, and dressed up casual staples.
It was a game-changer.
Since then, I’ve used blazers in my own wardrobe and worked with them extensively in clients’ wardrobes, and learned a lot about what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to choosing and wearing this wardrobe staple.
Here, how to wear a blazer over 40.
(As always, everything mentioned in this video and post can be found in this catalog).
Focus on Fit
Fit is critical to flattery. An ill-fitting blazer looks sloppy and adds weight, bulk, and is overall unflattering.
There are 3 critical places where a blazer should fit:
- Shoulder: The edge of the blazer’s shoulder should line up with your own exactly. If it extends past your shoulders, it will look sloppy. If it stops short of your shoulder, it will look too small.
- Arm: For a blazer with a full length sleeve should hit at the wristbone or thumb joint.
- Torso: Fold your arms across your chest. You should be able to do this, but barely. The fit of a classic blazer shoudl be snug, but not so tight that you can’t move.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Fashion Fit Formula will give you an exact place for your jacket to end so that it creates the most flattering look.
Next, look at the lapel of your jacket. You have a finite amount of space between the base of your neck and your shoulder, and the lapel of your blazer should fall less than halfway between those two spots. A blazer with a wider lapel will not be as flattering and can look overwhelming.
Finally, if you want to create a more casual and effortless look, as well as a flattering one, consider pushing up your sleeves, or try a jacket with 3/4 sleeves. Show your wrists and forearms can lengthen and slim your whole frame.
How to Style a Long Blazer
Although oversized blazers are in style now, the most flattering ones will still fit properly. Don’t go up a size when reaching for an already slouchy style. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a jacket that swims on you. Buy it true to size.
A long or oversized blazer looks best over an outfit with a defined, and slightly higher, waistline. When the internal waistline (of your outfit) is much higher than the hem of the blazer, you’ll have a much more streamlined look.
It’s the long-over-short proportion that works so well.
How to Style a Short Blazer
The opposite is true of a shorter blazer. These styles are fabulous for defining the waist, and so they work well over longer items and flowy pieces.
How to Style a Classic Blazer
A classic blazer is possibly the most versatile and most flattering on most women. Since the hem falls below the waistline, it looks best on outfits with a defined waist.
Flowy vs Fitted
As shown in the examples above, a fitted blazer looks great over a flowy outfit, and vice versa. Keep the balance of volume in mind when choosing the right blazer for your outfit.
Flattering a Large Bust
A large bust needs a flattering, tailored fit to look its best in a blazer, and many women who are fuller in the bust or broader in the shoulder find a double-breasted style hard to wear.
One trick is to remove the second set of buttons in a double-breasted blazer (the set you don’t use) to create a flattering asymmetrical look and a diagonal line.
A Style Dial Red and Purple (hourglass with proportional shoulders to hips) or a Style Dial Blue (inverted triangle, with proportional shoulders to hips or broader shoulders than hips) both look good in a classic blazer with a vertical neckline and a triangle shaped opening at the bottom.
A Style Dial Orange or Green body type (with more shape in the lower half of your body and narrower shoulders) looks fabulous in a higher neck style, like a classic Chanel jacket. Also, consider a waist-length jacket or a longer one that ends below the hipline. The hemline of your jacket should be straight.