Whoever said diamonds are a girl's best friend clearly didn't own a blazer. While arguably much more affordable than a sparkling rock (depending on the label, of course), blazers are a closet staple that can take you from athleisure to office-appropriate — and from off-duty to on-point — as soon as you slip one on. Buying my first blazer (a classic, cropped black jacket with chunky silver buttons down the lapel) enhanced my entire wardrobe. And learning there were different types of blazers to try on and make outfits with? Well, that admittedly put my bank account in jeopardy.
So what is it that makes blazers so fabulous? Their versatility, for one, but it's not just the fact that blazers can complete a variety of outfits that make them so appealing. It's that there is a different type of blazer for virtually every fashion lexicon. "Each blazer represents a different persona," confirms celebrity stylist and fashion expert, Cindy Conroy. So when shopping for this garment, it's important to ask "Who do I want to be today?" and go from there.
"If you're in the mood for edgy and chic, step out in a cropped, oversized, or leather blazer," Conroy says. "If your style is more classic, slip into a double-breasted, cape, or peplum blazer."
How to Choose the Right Blazer
Allow me to preface this section by stressing that the so-called "body type" rules the fashion industry has put into place are outdated and irrelevant. Fashion knows no bounds, and you shouldn't either, especially when it comes to choosing pieces and putting together outfits that make you feel amazing.
Having said that, Conroy does tell InStyle that choosing the right blazer often does come down to proportions and the unique contours of your body. "Listen to your frame and the rest will flutter into place," she says. For instance, padded and structured blazers create the perfect lines to balance narrow shoulders, but if you're broader up top and don't necessarily want to highlight that part of your body, Conroy warns that this style will "emphasize the width of your shoulders."
Lastly, Conroy mentions that the shoulders of the blazer should sit where your natural shoulder ends. "If the seam of the blazer is above or below, steer clear," she tells InStyle. "And remember, if a select fits perfectly in the shoulders but is too loose in the sleeves or the length is too long, a tailor is your best friend for that truly bespoke look."
What it is: The classic blazer is what Conroy dubs the "tapestry of any good wardrobe." It boasts a long silhouette and structured form. Though it resembles a formal suit jacket, the piece can be dressed up or worn casually. Length-wise, it extends to the thigh, and in terms of a color palette, options are endless.
How to style: There are a few ways you can go about styling a traditional blazer, but keep in mind that how you style any blazer (or any piece of clothing, for that matter) should reflect your own personal sense of style. For a classic, preppy look, celebrity stylist Lindsay Flores tells InStyle that you can't go wrong wearing the jacket with a crisp button-down, jeans, and layered necklaces. However, if you're hoping to strike a balance of sexy and sleek, Conroy suggests a combo of a mesh, long-sleeved tee and leather pants.
What it is: A cropped blazer is the shorter-cut counterpart to the traditional jacket. Hitting directly below the bust and spun with minimal fabric, Conroy says that what it lacks in the material it makes up for in street style credibility.
How to style: If you can find a matching skirt, Conroy prefers to style a cropped blazer as a set. "All heads will turn when you grace the sidewalk," she assures. But if you're feeling casual, Flores recommends donning the cropped jacket over a T-shirt that's tucked into high-waisted, cropped jeans, then completing the look with a boot.
What it is: A stark contrast to the cropped blazer, the oversized blazer (also referred to as a boyfriend blazer) is exactly what it's name would suggest — an ultra-long, roomy version of a traditional blazer. "An oversized blazer carries a menswear motif with its broad shoulders," and can be found "sitting pretty in the men's and women's departments," Conroy says.
How to style: To make a cool, street-style-esque statement, Conroy envisions pairing an oversized blazer with a corset-inspired top (a la Bridgerton), wide-leg trousers, and attention-seeking accessories, such as a chunky necklace. If your style is more model-off-duty, Flores recommends throwing an oversized blazer on top of a hoodie with trousers and sneakers. See Hailey Bieber for inspiration
What it is: Conroy describes the cape blazer as the "sexy sister to the traditional go-to," due to its not-so-subtle split sleeves and defined shoulders. "It adds an artistic spin to confident dressing."
How to style: While we'd recommend pairing the slitted jacket with a pair of stirrup leggings to keep the subtle sex appeal at its peak, there are a plethora of ways to style a cape blazer. For example, Conroy suggests layering a bandage top and palazzo pants underneath "for gone-with-the-wind seduction," while Flores imagines the jacket draped over a fitted shirt with a loose, cropped jean and either heels or boots.
What it is: One of this writer's personal favorites, the waterfall blazer has lapels that layer and drape beautifully along the bust, becoming less dramatic down the length of the jacket.
How to style: A waterfall blazer is a statement all its own. To highlight the jacket, Flores suggest layering it over tight- or loose-fitting pants before belting or leaving the blazer open.
What it is: Conroy says it best: "Nothing sparks joy quite like a peplum blazer." This piece's claim to fame is its voluminous flounce at the waist, which gives its wearer the appearance of an hourglass figure.
How to style: Peplum blazers have a lot of, well, pep, so keep that fun flair in mind while styling. Conroy tells InStyle a peplum blazer paired with jeans and pointed toe heels is "simultaneously ornate and effortlessly feminine," while Flores prefers a skirt combination.
What it is: The double-breasted blazer has the structure of a traditional blazer but with a twist. "A double-breasted reworks the button game," Conroy explains via email. The jacket will boast not one but two parallel rows of buttons, with wide overlapping front lapels.
How to style: It's easy to make a blazer work for formal wear, but Conroy and Flores agree, the double breasted blazer was made for street style. Combining the jacket with high-waisted cotton shorts would be Conroy's go-to for an off-duty, laid-back combination, while Flores would style the piece with a vintage T-shirt and jeans.
What it is: A one-and-done ensemble, blazer dresses are the quintessential day-to-night garment. Menswear-inspired with a feminine touch, these sharp dresses can be worn to the office, date night, or dinner with friends. Some come belted or cinched at the waist, while cut-outs are more common now than ever. Other styles include tuxedo-length and tailored.
How to style: Flores loves a blazer dress with an high-heeled ankle boot, but shoe choices really run the gamut. Heels, flats, sneakers — you name it. Your footwear should fit the overall vibe you're looking to emit.
What it is: For a cinched waist and a sharp, suited look, there's the belted blazer. This variation of blazer jacket is essentially a classic style with a belt strewn on top, Conroy says that this layered detail "adds instant panache."
How to style: Conroy is certain pairing a belted blazer with a flirty sheer dress and "larger than life" drop earrings will dial up the style even more. Flores ascertains the garment requires a great shoe or boot to complete the look.