I love the members of my closed Facebook Group. They are all supportive, kind and helpful with each other. If you are not a member, please join us. What I like most about the group is how everyone feels comfortable giving their own advice when someone is looking for style feedback. Often, I prefer to hang back before chiming in so all the members feel like their opinion is equally valued and important. I believe we can all contribute some wisdom.
Last week, an active member posted a question:
Not surprisingly, the members of the group chimed in with their thoughts, all which were helpful and wise. I decided to take this question a step further and create a blog post about it.
How to Make Basic Blazers Look Less Blah
Below I have put together three basic blazers looks using three of the most basic blazer colors around, black, navy and grey and have some tips for this fan that she can consider. I hope these suggestions will not only help this member but all of you as well.
#1- Add some novelty
Often, when we think about getting dressed we think about the basic part being on the bottom, like wearing a basic pair of pants with a novelty top or jacket. In the case of a basic blazer, the blazer actually becomes the very basic part. These, in other words, basic blazers are your chicken (for those of you who aren’t familiar with this concept I created you can read more here.) Therefore, one approach is to think about putting your novelty (or the flavor you add to your chicken) elsewhere. In the outfit above I added it in a few places. First, I styled this basic navy blazer from J. Crew with a novelty tweed skirt from L.K. Bennett. Adding a print though a skirt, top or dress can also have the same effect.
Next, I played with color by layering a burgundy surplice knit top underneath the jacket and then adding a pair of blush pumps from Cole Haan and a burgundy bag. Not only do these accent and pop colors add some interest, but the combination of the tonal shades also add some interest and cohesion. While acceptable, a basic ivory top and a pair of navy pumps and navy bag would be a lot less interesting. It is through the use of color that the outfit gets a punch. Finally, I added a simple, yet interesting, necklace from Kate Spade. I call pieces like this novelty basics because they look like a novelty but act like a basic.
#2- Make sure your basic blazers don’t look like afterthoughts
My next bit of advice is to make sure that your basic blazers don’t look like afterthoughts or something you threw on because you needed a jacket. Oftentimes, it’s not the jacket itself that doesn’t work as much as how it looks with the rest of the look that kills it. Does the basic blazer look like it’s part of a cohesive outfit or like a jacket you threw on because you needed to wear one?
#3- Wear basic pieces with your basic blazer that have a touch of novelty to them
Not everyone is a print or pattern person, I know I’m not. Thankfully, wearing prints, patterns or textures is not the only way to make basic blazers look more interesting. If the blazer is basic look to the coordinating components as places to add some modern shape and silhouette.
For example, in the outfit above, instead of going for a basic pair of black pants, I chose a pair of wide leg cropped pants from Milly that are still professional but also add a touch of trend. You don’t need to go overboard. With the pants I added a basic v-neck sweater that also grounds the look of the pants like the basic grey Theory blazer does. Finishing the look I added some other hits of small novelty, like the agate pendant, novelty tote from Ted Baker and Louise et Cie burgundy booties. In this case, instead of looking boring, the basic blazer actually anchors the look in a more professional manner instead of looking dull.
#3- Check fit
Next, check the fit of the blazers. A tip that a member of the group gave was to buy blazers one size smaller. Obviously, the goal here isn’t to wear clothing that is too small or uncomfortable, but often a jacket will fit well except for the fact that it can’t be buttoned. Seeing that this member rarely buttons her jackets, she concerns herself more with the general fit of the jacket and worries about buttoning it second.
If this doesn’t sound like a suitable solution to you, don’t disregard tailoring and the finer details of what makes a blazer look right on your body, like hemming the sleeves and getting the right shape through the body. Also be sure to check the proportion of the jacket in relationship to the rest of the outfit. Lastly, how often do you see a woman wearing a basic blazer in the simplest of ways, like with a basic pair of jeans and a simple top and find yourself wondering how she manages to make something so basic look so good? My guess would be that what makes the outfit work is how stunningly well the jacket fits? You can’t ignore fit if you want a basic blazer to look good.
#4- You don’t have to add the kitchen sink
When it can be identified that an outfit needs something to look less blah or more finished, it can be easy to go overboard. Don’t “kitchen sink it” by adding everything but the kitchen sink to a look. Often, one pop is enough and make sure the pop you are adding doesn’t come out of left field. Sure, something like a brooch can work, but it’s important to make sure the brooch works with the entirety of the outfit. Also, make sure that the piece you are adding enhances, not detracts or distracts. You don’t want to create busyness just to make sure that nobody notices how boring your basic blazers are.
In the outfit above I styled a basic black Max Mara blazer with an Emporio Armani sheath dress. The dress is novel enough that a black pair of shoes would absolutely work. However, I took it one small step further by adding these plaid pumps from Marc Fisher that fall in line with the total look while adding just a little bit more. Lastly, I included this grey tote from Tom Ford and grey earrings from Larkspur and Hawk.
It should be noted that adding a small punch of novelty was the most popular suggestion from the Facebook Group members because they are all such smarties.
My thanks to this Facebook Group member for the question and to all the wise members who chimed in. I am sure this will be a helpful topic for many.