How to Shop for Blazers

Jonny Hector

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Fact: Very, VERY few women fit perfectly into mass-manufactured blazers.

Fact: Blazers were originally created for men. With men’s bodies. And they used to be custom-made for those men and their bodies.

Fact: Blazers are a fantastic garment to have in your wardrobe because they instantly elevate any outfit.

And fact three is really a doozy, because we’d all love to have a selection of perfectly fitting

blazers at our disposal, but due to fact one very few of us do. That doesn’t mean you should give up and resign yourself to cardigans forever. You just need to learn to shop smart when it comes to blazers, and know what you’re getting yourself into when you buy one that isn’t quite perfect.

Pick a modern cut

Although modernity isn’t directly related to fit, you want to grab a blazer that will make you look sleek and chic instead of dated. So still relevant, I’d wager. Women’s blazers from past eras were often boxy and oversized, but modern blazers are fairly fitted, generally curving at the waist a bit. A few decades ago, high stance blazers were the favorite, but currently a lower stance is preferred. (“Stance” refers to the highest point where the blazer buttons.) And unless you’re buying a blazer that will be worn with skirts and dresses exclusively and is therefore a little short in the length, go for a current cut that hits at mid-hip.

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NOW. All of this is relative, especially if you’re factoring in a large bust or serious curves. Stance can be especially tricky: Low-stance blazers may pucker around the chest of a large-busted frame, and high-stance blazers may fit oddly due to dart placement. If you’re super curvy, a longer blazer may bunch up or pull across your hips. So, naturally, take this with a grain of salt and go for a style that fits and works for your specific body shape and size.

Fit your shoulders

In my opinion, the most important place for an off-the-rack blazer to fit is the shoulders. A good shoulder fit is hard to find, but shoulder alterations are complex and expensive. So try to hunt down a style that works for your shoulder span, and have other bits tailored to fit.

The shoulder seam of a properly fitting blazer will hit right where your own shoulder begins to slope downward. You should be able to hug yourself at the waist without too much pulling or puckering. 

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Fit your bust

Next most important would be bust fit. Due to their structured shape and stiff materials, blazers can be at odds with bust lines of all shapes and sizes. If you have more trouble fitting blazers in the bust than in the shoulders, pick a style that works for your shape and have the shoulders altered as needed.

The lapels of a properly fitting blazer will cover about half of each breast and skim over the bust line without wrinkling. Ideally the blazer should look equally amazing worn buttoned or unbuttoned.

Fit your torso

Torso fit comes in third. Long-waisted and short-waisted folks may find blazers challenging since they are generally cut for a smallish bust and average torso length. If a blazer is too long in the torso for your frame, it will create a bubble of fabric just above your butt. If a blazer is too short in the torso, it will look like you shrunk it in the wash. If a blazer is too big in the torso, it will stand well away from your natural waist. If a blazer is too small in the torso, it will pull and wrinkle.

Buy to be taken in, not let out

It is always easier for a tailor to make a garment smaller or shorter than it is to make it bigger or longer. When buying a blazer, this means you should pick one that fits your most prominent and biggest feature and have it trimmed in other spots.

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Be prepared to shell out for alterations

Honestly, the only easy and cheap alteration on a blazer is shortening the sleeves. And even that can get pricey if the blazer is lined. Some stores offer free alterations, generally on full-priced merchandise only, but the freebies are simple jobs like pant hems and sleeve shortening. Getting a blazer fitted to your bust or waist – again, always buying big with the intention of tailoring down – will generally run you $40 to $60. Getting a blazer fitted in the shoulders can be even more, especially if there is shoulder padding that needs to be removed and re-fitted. So, sadly, you’ll need to factor in tailoring costs when you’re considering overall cost. 

But since blazers look amazing when they fit and sloppy when they don’t, it’ll be worth the cash. A properly fitting blazer is wardrobe gold, friends, and a great style tool to have in your closet. 

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