How to Buy a Blazer to Keep at the Office

how to buy a blazer to keep at the office

2017 Update: We still stand by our advice on how to buy a blazer to keep at the office, but if you’re building a wardrobe for work for the first time you may want to check out The Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women and our Wardrobe Essentials for Work.

Ladies, what are your best tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office, or general tips on how to wear a blazer 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 how to wear a blazer with something other than a suit in years, so I thought we’d discuss. (Pictured.) Some of my top tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office include:

  1. Pick a base color.  Whether you believe in a capsule wardrobe or not, we all have a base color that we feel most comfortable in and end up building our wardrobes around.  Mine is black — for you it may be beige, gray, navy, or white. I wouldn’t necessarily wear a black blazer with unmatched black pants, but you can’t just break up a suiting set and wear the black suiting blazer with gray suiting pants and call it a day either — the best thing is to do is to buy a blazer that has a totally different texture than most of your suiting material, and likely never came with matching pants to begin with.  For example, the pictured blazer (at top) is good; so is this onethis one, or this one (in plus sizes).
  2. Look for a blazer with texture. This helps signify to other people that you know you are not wearing a suit, even if your pants or skirt is the same color as the blazer.  For fall, a tweed or bouclé might work, or even a corduroy (or velvet is huge this year!) — for spring/summer look for linen, ponte, eyelet, or a lightweight cotton blend  — you can also look for other subtle patterns or textures. Right now, this sweater blazer might work; this felted wool blazer might also work.
  3. Avoid too many details on your blazer. You want it to be a neutral that will work across outfits — so having a colorblocked detail or zipper detail is going to make it more memorable and harder to wear multiple days in a row (if warranted). That said, keeping a statement blazer at the office can be helpful if you don’t want to bother with layering it under coats, and wear enough neutrals and other complementary items to know that you would reach for it often as a way to “complete” your outfit when you get to work.)
  4. As a bonus, look for functional pockets. Note that many blazers with functional pockets are sold with the pockets sewn shut so they lay better (ditto for blazer vents and skirt slits). For pockets, you can very carefully check to see if there’s a lined pocket in here, or — if the rest of the blazer is unlined — look on the inside jacket to see if there’s a lined pocket in there.

As you start to have more fun with blazers and buy more, you may find you want to keep several at the office — I remember keeping a black one, a white one (for summer months), and a slightly crazy gray leopard print one (to wear on top of all black outfits).

Ladies, what blazers do you keep in your office? How many blazers do you keep, and what do you look for in a good blazer to keep at work? how to buy a blazer to keep at your office

* Back in my, ah, glory days of lawyering, I had a long stretch where I had to go to the archives of the law firm to look through old documents, and I often wound up carrying an entire bankers’ box or two back to my office to review more closely — if I knew I might be carrying boxes back with me, I would often grab the blazer I kept at the office to take with me to the archives  so I could put my Blackberry, tape flags, lip gloss and ID/security card in my pockets. (Lip gloss not because I really wanted to look pretty while working in the archives, but because I’m one of those people who gets distracted if my lips are too dry.)

Social media picture via Stencil.

It's advice a lot of young working women get -- buy a blazer and keep it at the office. But what kind of blazer will be wearable if you keep it at the office -- what color, what fabric; what other qualities should you look for when choosing a blazer to keep at the office?




  1. I keep ALL my blazers in my office — I use one of those multi-hangers on the back of my door. So I have my three suit jackets, classic navy blazer, and two tweedy options, plus one or two others that I rotate. I end up wearing one of them about 1-2x per week and I’m glad to save myself the bother of carrying them back and forth.

    • I have a closet at the OFFICE with 12 blazer’s. I rareley go DIRECTLEY anywhere w/o comeing first to the OFFICE, so I leave most of them here. I bring them home ONLEY to get dry cleaned so there are always about 10 here at the same time. YAY!

    • I’m kinda obsessed with this idea. Thanks!

  2. housecounsel :

    The Olivia Moon knit blazer at Nordstrom for $58.90!

    • Anonymous :

      Great rec. Inwish the 3/4 sleeve was still available….

    • lost academic :

      Any comment on sleeve length/upper arm fit? I keep finding nice blazers and pulling back from buying because the arms are never long enough.

  3. Anonattorney :

    If you have an office and have the extra space, just buy a wardrobe from Ikea and keep a number of blazers, sweaters, shoes, and a back-up suit in there, so you’re ready for anything.

  4. I had a family member “help” with my taxes in 2014 (I was admittedly less detail oriented in reviewing it, because we are a very “normal” tax household–mortgage, 2 kids, an HSA, w-2 employees, not subject to AMT, have always used TurboTax). I just got a “love letter” from the IRS. It looks like, while my HSA contributions were accurately recorded on the return, the amount of DISTRIBUTIONS (whatever is recorded on the 1099) was listed at 0 instead of about 5K (big year for us medially–baby, surgery, hospital stay).

    The IRS used info from the bank housing the HSA (so the 1099 info) to ADD the HSA contributions back to our gross income, and now wants $2600 (adjustment in taxable income, a “penalty” for premature distribution). It’s due in mid-October, but just got the notice last week.

    Do I amend my return? Call a rep and explain?

    • Huh? The only time you should get charged a penalty for withdrawing money from your HSA is if you didn’t use the money for a medical expense. You might be asked to submit receipts proving they are medical expenses.

      /not a lawyer, but my husband has a chronic illness and we empty out our HSA most years.

      • I know–the numbers didn’t match up from the contributions and the distributions (i don’t think i had my 1099 back from the HSA bank, so preparer just put “0”

    • Ideally, have a tax professional handle it – they use the correct terminology and put together a response package in a way that is most effective, meaning the issue would get resolved with a single round of correspondence. If you prefer to tray and handle it yourself, write a letter to the address on the notice, explain that the distributions were incorrectly reported and they they were all for qualifying medical expenses. Included copies of the receipts unless there are a million of them).

    • Bewitched :

      You need to amend your return. Easy enough to do, but I suggest a paid preparer!

  5. Life Happens :

    Travel Question —-

    Considering a trip to Moscow for April/May. Both Russia and India are on my bucket list for 2017.

    Do we think it will be safe? Also, does anyone know what the weather the typically like during our Spring? I don’t want to be wrapped in a snow suit and would like to enjoy sunlight and reasonable spring-time weather.

    Anyone been? Any advice?

    • I went to Moscow a few years ago at the end of August. It was safe back then. Be forewarned that pretty much no one (including at all of the tourist sites) speaks English. A few of the restaurants have menus in English, but when I tried ordering off of them, they had no idea what I was ordering… I was very glad to have friends that lived in Moscow to show me around. I also went to St. Petersburg, which was amazing! And thankfully there I had a full time tour guide.

      Moscow was very cold at that time of year already – snowing the day I left! My friends that lived there said it was unusually cold, but I would expect it to be pretty cold still in the spring – although I don’t know for sure. Have fun!

    • India trip :

      I went to India this past January and felt very safe. It’s very warm there. Not sure if your circumstances but I would not travel to India and explore the country by myself as a woman – if you are not Indian (I am a blonde haired very fair woman), you will stick out and will be approached en masse. I never felt threatened but I was always glad I was in a group. Many Indian women advised me not to walk alone anywhere – this advise served me well as I never felt unsafe, regardless of where we went, because I was with other people.

      It was an amazing trip and I loved it. I highly encourage you going!

    • Greetings from Moscow! Dirt, melting snow and winds mean you’ll need rubber boots and definitely some warm clothes if you come in April. By end of April it warms to about 15-20 degrees Celsius, but might rain a lot. There are long holidays in the beginning of May so a few locations are flooded with tourists from Russian province but otherwise the city is almost empty and very nice. I can confirm that it’s difficult to find anyone speaking English on the street so having a guide or a Russian-speaking friend to show you around is highly recommended. Concierges in some hotels are very helpful and will be happy to recommend a hip place to eat.
      Also note that large scale street construction works are very common in summer, so you might not enjoy the views. In that sense May might be the best time for a visit, the city will be green and blooming but not wrecked yet.

      And did I mention that it rains all the time? Well, it does. Bring a rain coat definitely.

      PS. If you are allergic to birch pollen, wait till mid May.

      • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

        Yeah, this. I went to university in Moscow. April can still be pretty cold, and May is going to be 60s F. But a lot of rain all around…

        • I went to Russia several years ago and had a great experience. If you can go with a tour, I would really recommend it. I would have had a lot of difficulty navigating the city as the alphabet was so different to me, I struggled with recognizing names, even when I had seen them before and very few people speak English, with the exception of the occasional touristy gift shop. I would also recommend going to St. Petersburg, if at all possible. It is very beautiful and more accommodating to tourists.

      • Life Happens :

        Thank you so much for the information, everyone!

    • I am from Moscow. It’s quite safe. As far as weather, it really depends on when you go – in March, it’s often still wintery and you have to be prepared for some pretty gross snowmelt; April will usually be warmer and you won’t have to deal with snow; May is usually a lovely warm-ish month. but you still need to pack layers.

  6. Hair help! :

    My hair is naturally medium/dark brown. I’ve been getting it highlighted for the past year and this most recent time, my stylist went a quite a bit lighter than I like. I went back about a week after so that she could “fix” it which namely meant that she washed my hair (and had it sit for a while) with a toner and colored glaze. That worked for a few weeks but now it’s starting to fade back to the lighter color. I don’t really want to go back again for her to fix it (she never said the glaze would fade) and I was thinking it might make sense to just use some semi-permanent wash myself to darken it back up.

    So, long story short, any recommendations for a semi-permanent dye? This would be the first time I’d be using color at home so the easier to use, the better.

    • KateMiddletown :

      Glazes always fade. Not sure what your stylist was talking about! If you’re looking for a DIY easy solution, most of the Clairol and Garnier products I’ve ever used have been great. Cosmetics companies put soooo much $ into these things – they definitely have them down to a science. I would also suggest grabbing a dye-depositing rinse (John Freida or similar) as a first step before you go with the demi-permanent dyes. There’s another that I’ve used and I’ll post when I remember the brand!

      • Hair help! :

        I think she said the toner would last – but she wasn’t too clear so I may have misheard. Dye-depositing rinse is actually exactly what I’m looking for, thanks! I will do some research on those.

  7. Should I take it? :

    Ladies, I’m currently unemployed (contract at last job ended) and just got an offer for a job. It pays roughly what I was making in 2013 (still waiting to review benefits). It’s at a company with rather terrible reviews and sounds like a miserable schedule and not interesting role (analyst title). I’ve been looking for a while though (4 months), and this is the first thing that has come through. I am currently doing really interesting high profile freelance work in my field that does not pay enough to support myself. I think I could negotiate a schedule that will allow me to continue doing the freelance work. I’m a practical person and am trying to convince myself to take this job today – it may be kinda miserable but so is not having health insurance, right?

    • Should I take it? :

      Also, if something much better comes through later, how awful is it to start a job and then leave? My last roles were for long stretches and I’ve never job-hopped, but I find I am hearing about applications sometimes 3-6 months out from date of application and am concerned about the opportunity cost of taking this role.

      • Can you ramp up the freelance work? Take on a temp job to help pay the bills? It’s not necessarily career-killing to start a job and then leave, but it will burn bridges. Also, if you’re working full time and doing your freelance work, I think you’d have a hard time continuing your search for something better.

    • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

      I would take it, but I couldn’t really afford to not be employed for that long. It depends on your individual situation I would think.

    • I did this to end my unemployment and then was offered my dream job a month later. Yes, it sucked to tell the nice people I had started to get to know that I was leaving, but all the good things about the new job made it all better RIGHT AWAY. You can do this!

  8. I would take it and continue freelance work and job hunting.

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