Back when I wore black, like over a decade ago, I thought nothing of owning a black blazer.  It seemed like such a no-brainer.  Black is such a versatile color, it goes with everything, right?  While this is very true, black blazers aren’t as versatile as you might think they are.  Well, they can be if you have the right things to wear with them in your wardrobe.  However, if you don’t, black blazers can potentially hang in your closet, getting no wear, like mine did.

The problem with black blazers

Here’s the problem with black blazers: if your wardrobe is black-heavy, there isn’t much to wear with them.  Think about it.  Most women rely heavily on black bottoms.  It’s practically impossible to wear a pair of black pants or skirt with a black blazer unless those two pieces were sold together.  Rare is it that you can get the blacks to match on two separate black items.  Second, the fabrication usually isn’t a match.  When you pair black pants or a skirt with a black jacket that don’t go together it looks like a bad attempt at forcing a suit.  The only time separate black pieces work together is when the fabrics are so different, like a black boucle jacket and a flatter wool bottom.

Next, you can’t really wear brown or navy bottoms with a black jacket.  Sometimes it can work, but these types of looks are usually difficult to pull off.  Grey bottoms work, but how many pairs of grey pants do you own to make this black blazer a worthwhile investment?  Want to pair that black blazer with that great little black dress?  Hold on.  You will probably find yourself with the same issue you did when trying to pair it with your black pants.

This is not to say that a black blazer isn’t a worthwhile investment for your work wardrobe, but before you just assume that this piece will work in your wardrobe simply because it is black, take a step back and give it some more thought.  In order for a black blazer to be a versatile piece you have to make sure you have the right pieces in your wardrobe to make it work.  Here are some suggestions.

What to Wear with a Black Blazer

 Outfit #1- Prints

If you have prints in your wardrobe a black blazer can be a great option to wear with them.  First, however, you want to make sure that the heaviness of a black blazer won’t drag down the colors in the prints you own.

In this outfit, this Karen Millen blazer works perfectly with the Trina Turk skirt for a few reasons.  First, both pieces work aesthetically with their clean, modern lines. Instead of looking like an afterthought, these pieces look like they go together.  Next, the colors of the print in the skirt works with black.  If the print was a washy pastel the black blazer could potentially look too heavy and stark.

To make the outfit look comprehensive, and not just like a black blazer with a skirt, by accenting the outfit with colors found in the skirt, a pair of yellow earrings from Janna Conner and a rich pair of burgundy heels from Sam Edelman.

Outfit #2- Colored bottoms

When considering a black blazer, look at your wardrobe and make sure you have enough bottoms to wear with the jacket.  You don’t want to get stuck only wearing it with jeans.  If you have a limitless supply of black pants, a black blazer may not be your best choice.

However, if you have colored skirts and pants, a black blazer is a perfect addition to your wardrobe.  Here, for example, this pair of purple pants from J. Crew work with this black Modcloth blazer layered over a simple grey tank.  To give this look some finish, I added this necklace from Bauble Bar and pink python flats from Michael Kors.

Outfit #3- Layered over dresses

If you have found yourself in a cardigan/dress rut, consider adding a black blazer to your wardrobe if, and only if, you have some colorful variety in your dresses.  If you have a ton of little black dresses, a black blazer may not be as versatile as a colorful one.  However, for a polished unsuited work look, having a black blazer on hand to wear over dresses in other colors and prints can look professional.

In this outfit, this J. Crew black blazer gives this Boden dress a professional look, especially when it is belted, finished with this black Stella & Dot necklace, black and gold bracelet from Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor booties that would look great with opaque tights.

The next time you are shopping and assume that a black blazer will be a fail-safe for your wardrobe, run through this checklist to make sure that it is the classic versatile piece you think it is.