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.)

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(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 Work Clothes: How to Look Professional When It’s Hot

Summer Work Clothes: How to Look Professional When It's Hot AF

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on the best summer work clothes and how to look professional when it’s hot— links have also been updated below. You may also want to check out our our latest discussion on staying cool on a hot day.

What should you wear — and not wear — to look professional (and stay cool) when it’s hot outside?  Which summer work clothes are the best?  We’ve recently gotten two reader questions on the issue.  First up, Reader M wonders:

Hi. I’m 30 years old. I am a rock and roller. Meaning that I work in the music industry. In the past my job was to chaperone the concert site. I was very good at my job. Got a new job in Orlando, FL, that has me now working at a desk. I am now a supervisor. I came into this job in the fall so I had some leftover black wool slacks, nice dark wash denim, and black sweaters to get me through. It’s now almost spring (feels like summer) and I don’t know how to do professional for summer. I work in a business casual environment, which helps. I like to keep all of my color in accents like purses, shoes, scarves, etc. I wear monochromatic. It’s my signature and super versatile when starting a new wardrobe. Can you advise cuts, fabrics, etc. of office appropriate summer wear for a newly professional, young lady like myself that’s trying to beat the heat without looking like a concertgoer?

Reader T also wonders:

I am heading to D.C. from California this summer for a legal externship, and am in need of advice on the dress code in the legal world when it’s 95 degrees. I worked on the Hill for several years and (sadly) recall a lot of flip flops and sundresses during the hotter months. I imagine that this won’t be the case in a legal setting/government agency, but I would love some basic outfit formulas, fabric suggestions (is tweed taboo?), and other ideas for a 30 yr. old to look like a lawyer while fighting the humidity and sticking to a budget.

In terms of outfit formulations, my go-to looks are boring, but they’re classic for a reason: think sheath dresses plus a blazer (to be added once you’re inside), and nice, lightweight trousers (look for cotton or cotton blends) with a nice tee and a classic pair of pumps (and ideally a matching blazer). (Pictured: Cole Haan Air Carma Open Toe Pump, on sale at Zappos for $169.99 (was $275).) As we’ve noted before, natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and linen are going to breathe a lot more than non-natural fabrics, so do pay attention to that when buying new pieces.  (Also: pay attention to the laundry instructions. That $20 pair of pants starts to look less appealing — and less of a deal — when they start to smell to high heaven after two wears and the only way to launder them is to get them drycleaned.)

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Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Pouf Sleeve Equestrian Jacket with Patch

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

Smythe Pouf Sleeve Equestrian Jacket with PatchLoving this gorgeous Smythe blazer, in part because it combines two things I don’t normally think of as going together: linen and leather elbow patches. Love the sharp shoulders with a bit of pouf, the curved hem with European vents in the back, and the very cool perforated leather elbow pockets. I think the brown would be most wearable for the office, paired with other browns (obviously), but also perhaps with light blue pants or even black trousers with a white blouse. It’s available at Bloomingdale’s in light brown, but do note that Nordstrom has it in pink, and online boutique SHE has it in yellow.  It’s $650 in all colors. Smythe Pouf Sleeve Equestrian Jacket with Patch

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

Tuesday’s TPS Report: Jagger Linen-Blend Jacket

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

Jagger linen-blend jacketThis strikes me as a cute and interesting take on the summer jacket. I like the curved hem and the chevron stripes, the slightly off-kilter buttons, and the black satin lining. While I admire the beachy styling here, for the office I’d probably stick with classic shapes in navy or beige — a sheath dress, a pencil skirt, trousers. You could keep a beachy vibe by pairing it with brown accessories and slightly hippie-ish jewelry (I’m thinking a shell necklace, for some reason), but I’d probably take it the other direction and add black accessories with bold pops of color: red, bright purple or yellow, maybe even orange or hot pink. It’s a decent sale: was $395, now $197.50 at The Outnet (limited sizes only, alas). Jagger linen-blend jacket

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.


Wednesday’s TPS Report: Crescent-Print Linen Paper Bag Skirt

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

Lafayette 148 New York Crescent-Print Linen Paper Bag SkirticonBloomingdale’s is having some good sales right now, including this great skirt from Lafayette 148 New York. Two points we like about the print: it will conceal any wrinkles in the linen, yet it’s kept from being *too* busy by being black and white. We also love the front slash pockets. Was $248, now $148 at Bloomingdale’s.  Lafayette 148 New York Crescent-Print Linen Paper Bag Skirt

P.S. Incidentally, check out the shoe sales at Bloomingdale’s — take up to $150 off if you spend $500+ (or $50 off if you spend $200).

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.


Suit of the Week

iconiconFor busy working women, the suit is often the easiest outfit to throw on in the morning. In general, this feature is not about interview suits, which should be as classic and basic as you get — instead, this feature is about the slightly different suit that is fashionable, yet professional.

This week we’re liking this Tahari suit, available exclusively at Bloomingdale’s. We like the long, lean look of the jacket, and the charcoal linen fabric seems perfect for boiling summer days.  (We will say, though, that the styling in the picture reminds us a wee bit of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man — we might try it with a nice silk blouse in a rich color like a French blue, a royal purple, or a lipstick red.  Or, if we stuck with a neutral top, we’d add a pop of color with a brooch on the lapel or a statement necklace.)   The jacket (Tahari ASL Exclusively for Bloomingdale’s Quinn Linen Jacket) is $168, and the pants (Tahari ASL Exclusively for Bloomingdale’s Vera Linen Straight-Leg Pants) are $158.


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