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How to Buy a Blazer to Keep at the Office

how-to-wear-a-blazer-as-a-separateLadies, what are your best tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office, or otherwise to look for in a blazer you’re buying to wear as a separate? (Does anyone have success with wearing suiting blazers as separates?) I often suggest to readers that they keep a blazer in their office to grab and go if you get an invitation to a meeting at the last minute or otherwise need to look (or feel) Very Professional. As another plus, it can also be a way to stay warm (whether with chilly air conditioning or a cold day), and — depending on the needs of the situation and the blazer you have — I might even grab a blazer with pockets if I were going somewhere and just wanted the use of the pockets.* But how do you know which blazer to keep at your office? We haven’t talked about wearing a blazer as a separate in years, so I thought we’d discuss. (Pictured.) Some of my top tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office include:

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The Hunt: Lightweight Summer Blazers

summer blazers for womenSure, 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.

As temperatures start to climb, that blazer starts to look less and less attractive — constricting! hot! layers! oh my! And of course, if you CAN get away with it at your workplace or job, you ditch the blazer for a sleeved sheath dress, only keep it in your office as a topper for air conditioning, or find other professional things to wear. But for those of you who want to wear blazers in hotter temperatures (at conferences, cocktail parties, and other networking events that may be indoors or outdoors), I thought we’d round up some summer blazers in linen, cotton, and other lightweight fabrics — we looked at lightweight blazers last year, but it’s time for an update.  (Update: check out three work outfit ideas for summer blazers.)

*If you are interested in plus-size workwear, please sign up for CorporettePlus, our newsletter! We promise not to blast your email more than once a week. (Right now it’s more like once a month.) In keeping with our Privacy Policy, we’ll never sell your email address.

(Here’s our 2014 roundup of linen blazers, our 2013 roundup of white blazers, and our 2012 roundup of summertime blazers.)

First, some of the Hall of Famers we mention above — these are the best selling styles that have been around for years and years:

summer blazers

Pictured: Navy blazer / white blazer / pink blazer / black blazer / navy blazer
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Summer Tweed, Winter Tweed — What’s the Difference?

summer-winter-tweedWhat are some guidelines for wearing tweed in the spring and summer?  We talk a lot about “lightweight tweed” — but what the heck is it? (For example: our most recent Suit of the Week.)  Reader C wonders…

I was wondering if you could do a post on tweed — maybe a “Guide to Tweed” or similar. I frequently see you mention “lightweight tweed” for summer, but I’m not sure I actually know what that means. Can light/bright colours bring an otherwise heavier weighted tweed into the summer months? On a more specific note, I recently bought a cropped black and white tweed jacket from BR a little while ago, and I’m wondering if I can wear this well into the summer, or if it is more of a late winter/spring piece. (I couldn’t find a picture of the exact one, but it’s similar to the jacket at this link, just cropped.) Thanks!

Interrrrrresting question, C.  We’ve talked a lot about dressing professionally for summer, including how to avoid looking like a doctor in a white blazerwearing pantyhose in the summer, and fabrics that are good for hot weather … but we’ve never really talked about what makes a summer tweed a “summer tweed.”  (On the flip side, we’ve talked about the propriety of bare legs in winter, and I agree with what I said there re: wearing winter tweed in the summer — it can be seen as a judgment call by your coworkers.)  Now is a great time to talk about it because as spring starts to turn to summer, which tweeds you wear start to matter more and more.

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What to Wear to a Big Meeting at a Casual Office

big-meeting-attire-casual-officeWhen you work at a company with a casual dress code, how should you step it up for a board meeting — or for other important meetings — when you want to look professional but don’t know what others will be wearing? Reader A wonders…

I have a fashion question: How does one dress for the board meeting of a “casual dress” company? We are a start-up — this is our first board meeting — so I really don’t have a precedent to call on. During a normal work day, my boss (the CEO, age 45+) and I typically wear jeans and a sweater or T-shirt, as we only have phone/email contact with clients. However, it seems like the board meeting calls for a more professional look. I asked my boss about it, he said “What you’re wearing is fine.” (Faded jeans, a long-sleeved Tshirt and a scarf.) He is not the type of guy I would normally take fashion advice from, and I’m not sure he fully understands the nuance of female dress! Most of the other officers and board members are lawyers, lobbyists, or CPAs. I don’t want to show up in jeans, but I don’t want to be the only one in a suit either. Is there something inbetween? Dress slacks and a cardi? I am age 35+, and a size 14 (XL), so I don’t want anything too clingy or “young”. Suggestions?

We’ve talked about how to do business casual without looking overdressed, a casual-but-professional uniform for womenwhat to wear to a casual office on your first day, shoes to wear with jeans at work, and more — but not this.

Interesting question, A, and I’m curious to hear what readers say. For my $.02, I would avoid the “dress slacks and a cardi” look when everyone else is in jeans because you inevitably end up looking like the mom of the group. So I’m going to offer you two suggestions and suggest you go with the one that feels right — but again, I’m curious to hear what the readers say.

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Frugal Friday’s TPS Report: Striped Ponte Blazer

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Striped Merona Ponte BlazerFunny, funny: I always think I don’t like stripes, but I apparently do like striped blazers — I keep coming back to the Old Navy one from last year, which is still available (right now only in XXL, but keep checking — I haven’t been stalking it, but I feel like they’ve been refreshing the inventory on it frequently).  Another entry in the category, though: reader favorite, the Merona Tailored Ponte Blazer from Target — now in not one but two striped versions.  I’ve featured the black and gray, but there’s a springier navy and white one as well. It’s available in sizes XS-XXL for $29.95 (select sizes and colors marked to $15).  Striped Merona Ponte Blazer

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected]

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Tuesday’s TPS Report: Plaxico Jacket

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Diane von Furstenberg Plaxico Jacket Ooh: I like this DvF twill jacket. Of course, of course: I love the purple. But I like the idea of a darker, but lighter weight jacket, for in-between weather like we’ve been having here in NYC the past few days. I’d wear it with complimentary colors, probably — a light blue button-front blouse, a mint green shell, an emerald or cobalt sweater — or with other purples. It was $465, but is now marked to $249 at Last Call. Diane von Furstenberg Plaxico Jacket

(Psst: Speaking of sales, have I mentioned the new Corporette Bargains page?)

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected]
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