The Hunt: Summer Blazers

Pim + Larkin Colette BlazerSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I’ve gotten a few requests for suggestions for “lightweight blazers” for hot summer months, so I thought I’d round up a few for today’s Hunt. For my $.02: if you’re really going to be wearing a blazer outside or in another hot environment, linen is the way to go — it just breathes so well. Silk is another good choice, but the tradeoff for all that, um, breathing (for both linen and silk) is the mad wrinkling that occurs. Cotton holds up much better (and I always think a cotton pique fabric looks pretty but professional, while a cotton seersucker can be classic) — if you can find a linen and cotton blend, or silk and cotton blend, that may be the holy grail. Right now I’m seeing a lot of blazers with eyelet details — I honestly don’t think they’re appropriate for most conservative offices, but they can be another option if you’re attending an outdoor event.  Readers, what is your favorite type of blazer to wear on hot days?  Do you have any tricks to keep linen or silk from wrinkling?

(I already featured this $88 Gibson blazer a few weeks ago, or I’d have included it in today’s roundup…looks like it’s available in different colors now, though.)

Pim + Larkin is a new brand to me, but I love the bright, saturated colors available for this linen/cotton/spandex blazer. It’s available in marine (pictured above), tomato, lemon, and a light pink “nudetral” (pictured at right) in sizes XS-L, and there are matching skirts, dresses, and (sigh) Bermuda shorts. The blazer is $79 at Piperlime. Pim + Larkin Colette Blazer
Seersucker is pretty classic, and a lot of places have varieties on it — but I know readers have had success with Land’s End Canvas in the past, so I thought I’d post this one. Although it does look cute with the dotted blouse, I’d probably keep my look more neutral for the office — maybe a white tee and a colorful skirt. It’s $90, and available in sizes 0-14. Women’s Seersucker Blazer
I haven’t tried J.Jill clothes in a while, but this linen and cotton stretch jacket looks great. Do note that it’s available in misses, petites, women’s, and tall sizes, and in arugula (pictured), a chalky blue, a dark red, mushroom brown, and white. It’s $99-$109 at J.Jill. Linen & Cotton Stretch Jacket
Silk & Cotton Tailored JacketI think this silk and cotton tailored jacket looks gorgeous — but it is not returnable, so order carefully! The light gray color, the single button — classic. Was $348, now marked to $98 at Maxstudio.com (sizes 0-12). Silk & Cotton Tailored Jacket
Linen BlazerSplendid has a number of cute blazers right now, which is interesting since I always think of them as primarily a t-shirt company (super soft ones, too). Still: this linen blazer (available in paprika, pictured, as well as white) is $148 at Splendid (and it seems to have sold out most other places it was available, so I’m guessing this one’s a winner). It’s $148 at Splendid, available in sizes XS-XL. Linen Blazer
MICHAEL Michael Kors Cotton-blend tweed jacketI can’t wear boxier jackets like this, but if you can, this black and white print looks really versatile, and I really like the frayed trim. It’s a cotton/linen blend, and available for $175 at Net-a-Porter. MICHAEL Michael Kors Cotton-blend tweed jacket
rag & bone 'Bailey' BlazerI feel like I’ve posted almost all of the Rag & Bone blazers available this season, and I gotta say I’m in love with this one, too! Linen-blend, lined, and I love the fitted, curved look. It’s $495 at Nordstrom (in tangerine, sizes 2-10), and in black at Rag & Bone.

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Comments

  1. Ooh, I am very tempted to order that J Jill jacket in white.

    For spring I have been loving my Talbot’s knit blazer, but it might be too heavy to wear around outside in the heat of summer.

  2. Such a great post.

    I do love seersucker, although you can’t wear it every week since it’s such a unique piece. Or at least *I* think I can’t wear it every week, since I’m the only one in my office who wears seersucker, it sticks out. Mix and match the jacket with the skirt, yes, I can do that and get more wear out of it. I do like the entire ensemble together though.

    • I used to work for the Senate and I still try to do seersucker Thursdays every week in the summer. I don’t feel like it’s any more out there than The Skirt in one of the bright colors, which I also wear frequently. Know your office, I suppose.

    • I had a friend when I first graduated who had exactly 10 work outfits that her mom helped her put together, each with its own accessories (jewelry, scarves, etc.). She didn’t like to shop, and she figured once every 2 weeks for each outfit was a good rotation. She had a different set of 10 outfits for spring/summer and fall/winter. She spent so little time worrying about what to wear, just whatever was next in the rotation each day. Sometimes I wish I could do that. It sure seemed uncomplicated.

    • Any suggestions for a seersucker suit with skirt? Has anyone bought the BB seersucker suit skirt? I like the Lands End blazer, and the skirt looks adorable, but I don’t think the skirt is going to cut it for work (18.5 inches seems awful short, plus that elastic waistband).

      Forget wrinkles. DC summers are agony for me. I’m considering moving exclusively to linen and seersucker this summer.

  3. I need advice on some thank you notes. I was interning nearly full time at a national legal non-profit for the semester and I wanted to send thank you notes to my supervisors and two people who went out of their way to include me in events and mentor me. Originally I bought $5 Starbucks cards to include as just a token of my appreciation but now I’m wondering if maybe that’s somehow tacky or uncalled for in an awkward way because they were superior to me. Or maybe I’m just over thinking it and everyone loves to get a Starbucks card?

    Thoughts?

  4. Great timing. I need a summer navy blazer to wear over dresses and a few pencil skirts. Would love any suggestions or recommendations from the hive.

  5. Anonymous :

    I bought the Gibson blazer, and it is fantastic. Highly recommended.

    Now for a TJ – I am thinking about leaping off of a cliff (metaphorically) and leaving my BigLaw job to become a special agent in the FBI. I am a senior associate now, with a reasonable, though by no means certain, chance of making partner in the next 1-2 years. It would be a huge pay cut, obviously, and while I have very very little debt, I also have no meaningful savings. I most likely could not afford to stay in my current apartment. No kids, none planned. Let’s assume that I would really enjoy being a special agent. Am I crazy for even thinking about this?

    • I once briefly considered this, but from what I read on the website, it sounded like you had to go live wherever in the country they assigned you. I’m not sure if this is 100% how it works, but you might want to check into that aspect of it and think about whether you would be willing to do that.

    • anonymous :

      I went through the hiring process but failed the polygraph (prior drug use). I was very excited to do it because I was very sick of my desk job. I’m sure you would be a great candidate with your legal background – I got the feeling they have plenty of brawn but perhaps not enough brain. It’s such a long process, so you could start it now and by the time you know whether you’ll make partner it will still be in process.

      Also – agents can retire after 20 years – how nice would that be?

      There are so many considerations. Check out federal soup, which has a forum for applicants. Also, think about whether you’d be comfortable “shooting to kill.”

    • No, you’re not crazy! And thank you so much for posting this!

      I’m a midlevel in Biglaw and was thinking this morning about what I could do next and getting depressed about the exit options (A smaller firm? Worse! In house at a bank? No, thank you.) But this post reminded me that I could choose something quite different. I’m off to wear my forest ranger hat and turn a document, while pondering the options!

    • I would recommend that you work your lifestyle issues out now, then re-consider making the leap. Move to a cheaper apartment, figure out what you could expect your salary to be and live on that, banking the rest (to build that savings). Actually, live on less than that, because you do need to build and keep building a savings. You don’t mention a spouse, but, if you have one, of course this stuff impacts him as well (as does the potential moving across the country issue that DC Jenny points out, which is another consideration).

      If you’re comfortable and able to make all of those cutbacks (and I think that you may be, since you don’t have debt), then make the leap.

    • Not at all. If it’s something that interests you, go for it.

    • Anastasia :

      As someone who works with some special agents and has several more acquaintances who work for the bureau in non-agent (analysts and lawyers, mostly) capacity, I have heard a lot of good things.

      I have heard that it is a long application process, sometimes without much feedback for a long time (like, a year). I also understand becoming an agent entails a fairly long period of training, much of which is in residence. So if this is something you’re seriously considering, I don’t see the harm in putting in an application; and then reassessing once you get some feedback…which may be a while. You do have to move wherever you’re assigned, and I’m not sure how much say you have in the matter, especially early in your career.

      I say go for it! Good luck. :)

    • My beau is also considering a move to a similar organization (the other one), and one of the things I’ve brought up to consider is whether he can be truly dedicated to the agency. In these kinds of jobs, you have to be ready to really dedicate yourself to the job, and sometimes put the job above your own health, well-being, instincts, and even beliefs.

      Basically, do you feel a calling to the job, or does it just sound exciting?

      • Anon for this :

        This. I did a stint in the military, and while I really liked the “adventure” part of it, the moving every couple of years and whatnot, eventually I got frustrated that I had so little control over my own life. I didn’t *want* to put “service before self” in some instances, especially as I looked toward having a family (although this may not apply to you). Mentally, I also didn’t 100% agree with the mission I was supporting, and I sure wasn’t one of the people who would have been proud to die for my brothers and sisters in arms or my country. Self-preservation instinct is strong with me!

        That said, the FBI doesn’t do as many (I think) objectionable things — it’s harder to argue the case against protecting U.S. citizens through law enforcement channels. But definitely the mission and organizational values are something to consider in your decision-making process.

    • I have a relative in the FBI (not an attorney), and he mentioned that many of the incoming special agents were lawyers. At a social event, I spoke with one former BigLaw attorney who was in his second year as a special agent (he had done 3 years in BigLaw, if I recall correctly) and he seemed very happy with the switch. However, as someone pointed out already, based on my relative’s experience, you may have to move frequently, and you have very little say over where you’ll end up. My relative is fairly senior and has a special skill (which actually brought him into the Bureau) and he has been moved to three different cities over the course of the last 5 or 6 years.

    • Anonymous :

      OP here – thanks for all of the feedback (and more is always welcomed)!! I’m definitely aware of the moving requirement, but that doesn’t bother me. My SO is also not bothered by it, and in fact, he is very supportive if not a bit envious. I think the main source of friction between us is that he secretly wanted that career but became a lawyer instead and is now aged out of the FBI. Honestly, if the pay were better, it would be a complete no-brainer.

    • Once Removed :

      My SO is an agent. I thought about it so very very briefly and then decided heck no.
      He’s been in a while, but has said that a lot of the new agents are attorneys.

      The physical requirements are pretty stringent — if you haven’t already I’d get started on meeting those goals.

      The money is a big downside, but — it does go up considerably after a few years and there’s a pension after 20 years (I’m very envious of this). I believe retirement is 20 years + some age requirement, not just 20 years and at some point retirement is admonitory.

      From what I know, you would pretty much have to relocate to where ever they say (you can list some preferences) and will most likely have to move during your career — this means that what is a meh salary in NYC or DC becomes a really nice salary in mid-town America.

      Keep in mind that if you do apply, they will probably talk to your current employers at some point.

      Overall, I think a lot of agents really do enjoy their jobs and feel like they are doing some important, interesting work, but it is a large bureaucratic agency (it’s its middle name!), so it’s often not as exciting and glamorous as it seems in fiction.

      • It isn’t clear whether you are in the running- are you advancing in their process or just thinking about this? I know a few. One left a Big Accounting job in search of similar things you are seeking and he hates it. Ask a LOT of questions before you get there- though they can change your assignment at will, and will- he is stuck doing basically paperwork on one case and more miserable than he was before. He felt mislead about what he’d be doing. The wife of the accountant who went there was supportive as is your SO, but they are under strain for various reasons and shifting to something where he isn’t happier hasn’t helped.
        I know a senior agent who has had a long career and done interesting things- but lived in places like rural Ohio, and has had failed marriages which may or may not be related. He is pretty cocky and cut out for the role, and has probably done the country a lot of good. Another senior one I know has done really cool things and some that many may disagree with. He has had 4 wives and his son (my friend) feels that he never really had a dad. The son/friend has been struggling with whether to do it to looking for a more impactful/flashier life, but understands that the personal implications on his family are huge and not to be underestimated.
        Guess what I’m saying is: talk to as many people as you can before, and don’t accept something that might be worse. It could be fabulous for you and the country, but it certainly is not for everyone. It might be best to go for partner first, so you will have that always under your belt, and you are really close potentially.

        • ps the senior agent I mentioned last just spent a few years on Afghanistan just fyi with very little contact with home front. I lived in different countries including a war zone growing up per my family’s path, but those environments aren’t for everyone.

  6. who asks that!?! :

    Early TJ to vent and say WTH? There’s a lady in my office that has frequently made comments about my attire (ie: Oh, you can’t wear that because you’re too skinny/have no curves, etc.), including blatantly asking my weight. She walked up to me just now and said, “What size you wear? About a 5?” What am I supposed to say to you? I danced around about how the size varies by store. She just kept insisting that surely a size 5 was the largest I would possibly wear, and I just replied that I don’t normally shop in the junior’s section. Why, WHY would you ask me what I weigh and what size I wear? Who asks that in an office? I mean, sure, if you’re my sister or my best friend and you want to borrow a dress for a night out, you might ask what size I wear, but honestly, in an office?

    • Seattleite :

      Um. Don’t dance around.

      “What an inappropriate question.”

      Done.

      • This. I’m by no means a small woman (just lost enough weight to get out of plus sizes, huzzah!) and I would balk at someone asking me what size I wore/what I weighed. If it would bother me on the heavier end of the spectrum, I can only imagine that a very small person would also be bothered by it.

        It is absolutely inappropriate for her to ask you these questions, and I’m sorry she’s doing so (and obviously and understandably making you uncomfortable).

        • I really do think people have good intentions when they say this sort of thing- kind of like the old ladies who tell me to eat more if I want to have kids. It’s annoying, inappropriate and rude but in our culture people think they’re giving you a compliment when they say something like “you’re so skinny! Do you ever eat?”

          This honestly drives me crazy since I know I am not fit, that I need to get in better shape and I know I need to eat better.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          Congratulations ELS! I’m very close to achieving that myself and know how hard it is to do.

          • Ah, you know what they say about good intentions….I think about blithely telling them to go to hell! j/k (mostly)

    • I had a lady once basically untie my DVF wrap dress in a hallway and retie it. She also said that the size was correct for me but that I must have a short torso (thus why the dress looked weird I suppose). Ever since that day I have only worn opaque tights and bodysuits under my
      clothing to work. I honestly think some people just have no sense of boundaries…

    • Yep. I’m pretty darned small (short and small boned) and somehow people at work regularly feel it’s acceptable to comment on it. Though I’ve never actually been asked how much I weigh/what size I wear! Ugh.

    • A la Miss Manners: Why on earth would you ask me that?

      Although I’d be tempted to say, that yes, I’m about a 2-4 and it’s so hard to find clothes small enough to fit! I eat and eat but just can’t seem to put on any weight.

      It’s rude to make comments about someone’s weight in either direction.

      • I will say just about exactly this when people won’t stfu about it. If you’re going to make me feel self-conscious about being in my body, I’m going to throw it back at you – even though I HATE doing that, as I know that obviously being tiny comes with much higher social value than being not-tiny. But at the end of the day, I can’t help my size any more than someone large can, and I shouldn’t have to explain it or justify it to anyone, least of all people I work with.

    • “Nunya.”

      “Wut?”

      “Nunya d@mn business.”

    • who asks that!?! :

      OP here, thanks for the commiseration! As this is one of many inappropriate comments in the same vein, I did consider calling her out. Unfortunately, she’s the type that would loudly ask why I’m so offended/worried/private about it, and would then bring it up to several others in the office. I’ve found it’s just better to avoid the subject, because otherwise, my size and weight will become a topic of discussion for the whole office, instead of just one comment from her!

      • Unless you’re in a really toxic office, I bet others in the office also regard her as a crazy gossip and would take your side. These questions are entirely inappropriate.

      • who might ask that... :

        Just a thought that her comments may have little to do with you or how you react and more to do with her own eating-disordered thinking. A lot of folks with body issues go to extremes in fixating on others as an “ideal.”My friend’s sister used to make a huge deal out of whether she could fit in the three other sisters’ jeans. (If she could fit or be swimming in them, she felt better about herself. How crazy is that??)

        Perhaps this lady is trying to gauge what size she thinks she needs to be to “succeed.” It can be really warped and doesn’t make the comment any less rude. But just may put that out there for possible perspective.

      • “I’m not offended/worried/private, but I don’t answer inappropriate questions”

    • on a few occasions we associates have discussed clothing sizes so that we can borrow from each other — comes up more often than you’d think that someone’s ‘office suit’ is at the cleaners on the day of a surprise appointment! and once I lent a suit to a witness. but that’s seriously the only time I can think it would be appropriate to discuss.

    • I’ve had this question asked many times and it comes in many forms… what size are you? how much do you weigh? Oh my gosh, that 100lb box of whatever is probably heavier than you, on and on. I’ve gotten it from men and women. The strange thing is that my frame is small but I’m a very healthy weight for my size. I have love handles like the best of them and cellulite on my rear and thighs. My ankles and wrists are super boney and when I’m in a suit (everyday), it appears that I’m boney everywhere even though I’m not.

      My favorite response? I just stare at them and sometimes shrug with a “huh, i have no idea” motion. I don’t say a thing though. The first time I did it, i was uncomfortable for about 2 seconds and then they got so uncomfortable as their question just hung in the air. It did the trick and has worked ever since. If a guy makes a comment and the above response is not appropriate or I don’t feel like giving it, I respond by looking at them like they have an orange potato on the top of their head and I say “geez, I would think you’ve learned by now to not ask a women her weight. Your wife would be so dissapointed in you” (i usually save that for a room of men and it works great since the rest of the room jumps on the fool that asked me the question to begin with). I’ve asked the person back the same question but it backfired and I feel validated that it was an appropriate question. As i’m writing this I’m realizing how many times this has happened. SOOO inappropriate.

      A long time ago, I had a stranger tell me that I need to eat more… a STRANGER!!!! I told them I have a disease that prevents me from gaining any weight and it’s actually aweful and causes many health problems. They felt horrible and I probably should have since it was completely untrue but I bet you anything they’ll never say that to a stranger again.

      Why people ask this? I have no idea.

      • That last bit was awesome. You rock!

      • Agree they must be tied up in their own issues, as it’s just so wrong. I was at a wedding once and the mother of the groom took me aside drunk and told me how sick I looked and how I needed to gain weight, as she once was in similar shoes and feels better now being hefty and i shouldn’t try to stay so small. Well, I was recovering from an illness and stressful time, and doing everything I could to keep weight on, so the ‘don’t worry about eating, you can use a few pounds’ was so misplaced and insulting. Granted, I was drunk at my own wedding years prior and took her son aside to ask when he’d propose to my friend in a belligerent way- so embarasseed afterwards- so we all have our bad moments:)

  7. Tish Baldridge :

    PSA: Nars Eyeshadow Base is a great product. It goes on clear, and your eyeshadow will not budge all day. Better than all the other primers on the market because it doesn’t have an orange-y tint.

  8. Maddie Ross :

    Has anyone tried this Pim + Larkin brand? If so, can you speak to sizing? I love me some colorful professional clothes and saw these suiting pieces over the weekend. Even with the return options, I’d rather get an idea of sizing before taking the plunge though.

    • I can’t speak to the blazer, but I have the Colette sheath dress. It runs very small. I’m a 00/0 in AT/BR/J. Crew, and couldn’t even zip the XS. The small fit perfectly.

    • Haha you know you are a hungry pregnant lady when I read that as ‘have you tried the P&L bread’ and started to get excited about that idea… umm, a new tasty bread!

  9. SoCal Gator :

    Let me second the recommendation of the Gibson linen blazer that I bought (in white) at Nordstroms (it ran small. I wear a 4 but have broad shoulders so I got the medium). I also just got the more casual Caslon knit blazer (size small) and it is really great and very inexpensive ($59). I bought it in purple vintner (kind of a fuschia purple) and am thinking of getting the blue as well). I am thinking about also getting the Caslon light wash chambray jacket.

    Links to follow in next post to avoid moderation.

  10. karenpadi :

    I just bought the Webster Blazer at Target. It’s $50 and OK fit-wise. I had to go up two sizes because the arm holes were very narrow.

  11. karenpadi :
  12. Sydney Bristow :

    NY & Company has had some cute lightweight blazers in a bunch of different colors this season. It seems like they are always on sale too.

  13. mezzaluna :

    I have the Pim + Larkin in the bright orangey color they have on the piperlime website, and I love it! The sleeves are a little long, but no buttons = easy hem. They also have matching sheath dresses / skirts if you want a full suit.

  14. What are the linings on these jackets made of? No matter what the fabric, a poly liner makes a garment feel sticky and clingy and prickly hot to me.

  15. What an awesome post. I was just fretting over this last week when it was 88 and I did not want to wear a hot wool jacket. I dashed to Ann Taylor and bought a couple jersey knit dresses. I really look forward to seeing some of these blazers in person!

  16. The rag and bone blazer in tangerine is amazing. It’s a great addition to my wardrobe. The details – different fabric on the back, striped lining in the arms – give it something extra.

    I wore it in new York city last month and felt super chic.

  17. This is my new favorite linen blazer! I have it in green and am tempted to buy another one in orange. Can be dressed up or down. Love it.

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/gibson-linen-one-button-blazer/3289037?origin=category&resultback=972

  18. Check out our line of summer linen suits! They’re lined with a light satin for structure. I love the white and jade contrasts.

    http://www.hatsandsuits.com/m-13-donna-by-donna-vinci.aspx

  19. Tara Henifin :

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