When I lived in NYC, I wore jackets and blazers all the time. Boyfriend blazers, tuxedo-y styles, classic English-y redingcotes: they all made me feel upright, strong, swaddled in strength and fortitude as I weaved down the streets and sidewalks quick and sharp. My uniform was a sharp jacket, skinny jeans and boots — it was practical and utilitarian, but most importantly, it made me feel like a semi-elegant bad-ass.
Then of course, I left, and slowly those jackets went away. I either sold them — some lucky duck owns a fabulous Phoebe Philo-era Chloe wool jacket now for crazy-cheap — or replaced them as they wore out with cardigans, ponchos and wraps. I went soft and cozy in my gentle, hushed new life. This was instinctual and deliberate. After years of being armored — a mental and emotional fortress onto myself — I wanted to be open, receptive, warm. And it works — if you ever want to soften your heart and soul, put something against your body that feels that way. It helps.
But lately I’ve been gravitating back to the jacket and blazer. I’m not sure what it is — I don’t have a yen to move back to the city. Perhaps it’s that I go riding horses a lot more these days, and the strong upright posture you hold is rubbing off on me in strange ways. Or maybe I just feel the need for some reserve of strength, power and forthrightness to draw upon. I have things to do, accomplish, reinvent; I need solid footing and the armor to shake off criticism and be brave!
But I realized as I was transferring my fall/winter wardrobe into my closet that I had only two blazers remaining in my repertoire — a thin silk boyfriend-y one for evening, and a very old Armani Exchange one that was like a shrunken, cropped swingy peacoat. Both are nice in their ways, but don’t exactly give me that feeling of decisive power I like and want. It’s time to tap into my powers of elegant bad-assness again! So I decided, this fall, that some new jackets were going on the shopping list.
Jackets, though, are tricky to buy. They are not easily or cheaply tailored items; they have to fit very precisely and perfectly to look right, especially on my short frame. While I can usually adjust sleeve length, I am very picky about their overall length, as well as with what I call the “bra lines” area — the horizontal line from right underneath your armpit to the middle of your chest, and the one from where your bra strap would be to the middle of your ribcage. Essentially, anything going over your boobs! This area has to fit absolutely right with no excess material and hang open perfectly. Otherwise it can make you look much stockier and thicker than you really are, and that’s no fun. Oh, and an overly low armpit is also usually a disaster. I often tend to buy jackets that are a size smaller and just make peace with the fact that I’m never going to close them. But usually I just don’t buy it if it doesn’t work right on me.
So you see, I’ve only been able to find two blazers…and I’ve tried on a great many in my search so far! One is black crepe-like material short with a curved, shapely waist, collarless with nice, shorter sleeves. (I always end up shortening sleeves on a jacket.) It’s much more formal and structured. Oddly, I like wearing it with shirts with really long sleeves, and let them flop out goofily, because it feels Dickensian to me.
The other is a navy blue knit, much more of a classic blazer, and the knit lets me push up the sleeves in the way that I like. At first I was a little wary of the knit, but it's very soft and warm, so I think of this as my cardigan replacement. Because it's nice to feel both soft and strong in the same garment, right? Anyway, I wear it here with a shirt I got last year and can't decide if I want to keep. I was in a polka dot quirky mood last year, but this year not so much. The jacket gives it a bit more groundedness, which is what a good blazer does well.
I’m thinking of going kind of Bianca Jagger and trying to find a cream-colored jacket. That might just be a tad beyond my comfort level, though it might look nice with my coloring and hair. But eek, so impractical! We shall see. You can take a girl out of a practical jacket, but you cannot take the practical out of the girl.