Must a Blazer BUTTON to Fit?

can't button blazer

2017 Update: We still think this is a fascinating discussion of how to deal when you can’t button your blazer, but you may also want to check out our more recent roundup of busty blazers.

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s reader question about feeling frumpy in a suit, I was thinking about Drop Dead Diva. I stopped watching the show a while ago (her guardian angel was still the guy from Mad Men back when I watched), but I’d always wanted to do a 360 review on the lead character, lawyer Jane Bingum, and her fashions, if only because she’s one of the most stylish and plus-sized TV characters I can think of. I have some problems with her fashions, though — the ridiculously high heels, the overdone makeup, etc, etc. My BIGGEST problem, though, has always been that the vast majority of her blazers couldn’t be buttoned (not even kinda-sorta) — the picture at left demonstrates the problem.

But then, as I was falling asleep last night, I started wondering: maybe I’m the one who’s been wrong to think that a blazer must button all these years.  Maybe the trick for a busty girl (or an overweight girl) — short of massive and expensive tailoring — is to buy jackets that fit in your arms and back only, but not worry about it fitting across the bust.  This flies in the face of everything I know about suits — but when I think about it, Jane definitely does not look frumpy. I might say this is one of those times that your fashion sense speaks to your judgement — were this a 360 review, I might say as either an underling or a boss I would wonder why she didn’t buy suits that fit — but again, I’m rethinking this now.

Oprah in a suitI am really not into critiquing real women’s clothes choices (the point of the 360 was always that we would only look at the character, not the actress), but I DID just run an image search on Oprah in a suit, since presumably she has unlimited resources and enough stylists advising her that her on-air persona might be fair game.  That said, it looks like most of her suits have buttoned — I would say the picture at right is an amazing example of a well-tailored blazer where she looks professional and stylish.

Readers, what are your thoughts on how a blazer should fit?  If it can’t be buttoned, is it a fit issue that reflects on your judgement? 

Update: Looks like Angie at YouLookFab has given her readers the go-ahead to buy blazers that don’t close.  On the flip side, I reached out to my friend Kathryn, who wrote our guide to plus-sized blazers, and she thinks the three-inch gap in the Drop Dead Diva picture is  one of those looks that only works for TV.  “I think if you get a blazer that buttons (but maybe pulls when you are all buttoned up) but leave it unbuttoned you can eliminate some extra fabric and still not get side eye (even if it’s just in your mind).” Kathryn’s latest favorite blazer is this Style & Co. one, which has enough spandex in it to fit properly without pulling.


  1. I’m a D-cup, short torso-ed, high-waisted, figure 8/high spoon shape and it is much more flattering if I leave the jacket open to create a long line. I feel like a linebacker and a barrel with most my suit jackets buttoned, even though I have an hourglass shape. My jackets are usually same size or one size up from my bottoms, so I’m not extremely top heavy.

    For just around the office, there seems to mix a mix between the women, and I think its due to body shape more than size. The women who button generally always button, and the women who leave them open generally always leave them open. I think its easier to button and looks better on women with a long torso or a low waist. Oprah’s jacket would work on my shape because the button is high, but I wouldn’t wear that style jacket to court, which is basically the only time I would button a jacket.

    Also, I usually only see men button their jackets in the most formal of situations.

    • Wow, you just described my body to a T. I also always wear my jackets open although they can all be buttoned without any pulling. I just have to make sure to never wear boxy jackets; otherwise, they look odd being left open. The only time I button them is in court.

    • This. As someone short but with gigantic boobs, I prefer blazers that don’t button because otherwise the excess fabric drowns me. I think in general, short (and hourglass) types look better with an open blazer because it creates a longer line.

      If Oprah was 5’2″ but same body type, that suit style would look ridiculous on her.

      • I agree with this. I’m 5’5″ (so not super short or tall) with hourglass figure. Even if a blazer fits over my chest without pulling and is tailored enough at the waist to not look like I’m wearing a sack, it looks awkward buttoned. I also find that the extra fabric in the chest area looks awkward when I wear the blazer open, so I typically end up wearing blazers that don’t button or pull very obviously across the chest. However this applies to casual blazers or separates. I think proper suit jackets should button if the formality of a suit is required. I’ve accepted that I will feel frumpy for interviews but I’m glad I don’t have to wear suits regularly!

    • I have really narrow shoulders and comparatively large hips (my jacket size is always 1-2 sizes smaller than my bottoms) and even with tailoring and my suit jackets that do button, I think I personally look better with an open jacket. Like someone else mentioned, I only button my jackets in interviews and in court. I agree with June that most women I see tend to be buttoners or non-buttoners.

  2. As far as professional clothing goes, I think that it’s perfectly acceptable only for a pregnant lady (as it is indeed flattering for a relatively sleek figure with large belly, but, most of all, because it’s hard to demand a pregnant lady to buy blazers every 2 months so that they fit her perfectly).

    I know that this is a long-run approach and I know I can be possibly attacked by the fellow commenters, but I think that there is only one solution to “feel to fat problem” – and this is to loose weight by eating less and exercising more. In more than 90% overweight/obesity is not caused by any underlying illness, so it is possible to loose weight by decreasing balance of calories. Fit and relatively slim people do look better and healthier. Just want to highlight that I neither promote anorexia nor I have negative opinion about plus-size people. But as far as looks go (provided they care about their looks), loosing weight would be the largest improvement.

    So if you happened to be overweight, just go with it. Choose flattering clothes, but keep the blazer buttoned, even if it was to involve tailoring.

    • workingmomz :

      I’m not fat but have DDs. There’s no way I can tailor my blazers to fit while buttoned without having the shoulders and sides completely redone. Your advice assumes a particular body type.

      • Anonymous :

        Agree with workingmomz. I’m 5’10”, size 8/10 depending on brands, and a 36D. Most of my blazers close but if I move my arms too much they will pull, so I leave them open.

      • +1000, this is more about body shape and proportions than weight. While I have gained weight, my BMI is normal at 22.5. I don’t even think I liked the look of buttoned jackets on my when my BMI was 19.

        I do think the image shown with a very large spread in the jacket is not suitable for business formal occasions, but I would wear that look on a no court or meetings day.

        • Anonymous :

          Agreed. It’s a shape issue, not a weight issue. If I try on X size blazer and it buttons but it pulls, then try on X+1 size and it’s so big in the chest that I look like I’m playing dress up, then it’s my shape/proportions at play. I can’t target weight loss just for my chest.

    • Hive Mind :

      Those of us who are overweight appreciate your admonition to just “loose” the extra few pounds we’ve been carrying around. Thanks, we’ll get right on that. Now you might want to consider googling “loosing vs. losing.”

      • Anonymous :

        +1. (Also, “to” v. “too.”)

      • Thanks for the remark on spelling. I’m a foreigner and never actually been to any English-speaking country, so I always welcome such hints.

        I don’t urge anyone to diet and I have deliberately stated that. I only expressed my own opinion that slimmer (not necessarily skinny) figure would make the largest difference to your appearance when overweight. This is why I’m watching out not to gain weight, but I totally understand that it may not be the way every single person chooses. And it’s perfectly fine.

        • The problem with your comments is that your recommendations are based on the assumption that the issue of women feeling too fat is within the women themselves, disregarding the ridiculous standards set by society that cause these women to feel too fat, regardless of their actual size/shape.

          • And this is also true. BMI of 22 or 24 is definitely not fat, but many women consider themselves “fat”. However, it seems for me like we’re referring to plus-size (i.e. out of regular sizing range), which almost always involve overweight.

        • kk, I appreciate your clarification, and I don’t want to pile on, especially if there are some language barriers in play–but I have some SERIOUS issues with the way your comment read. It also demonstrates a pretty basic (albeit extremely common) misunderstanding of the realities of weight loss, i.e., that weight loss happens when your calories out exceed your calories in. Science indicates that this is not true for large numbers of the population. You have to go to actual research journals to find this information, not go by the popular media, which IMoh-so-veryHO, is too beholden to the diet, beauty, and weight loss industries to report these things honestly.

          I also have a problem with your assertion that “Fit and relatively slim people do look better and healthier.” This is your subjective opinion, which you are entitled to, but as you yourself note in your next sentence, that veers prettttty darn close to fat-shaming and could also be triggering for members of of this community who are struggling with, or have struggled with, eating disorders (I am one). I also do not think you can categorically state that losing weight leads to people looking better. People look wonderful at a wide range of sizes and shapes. Period.

          • I would appreciate if you could link to or cite articles from reputable medical journals which indicate that weight loss does not occur when calories expended are greater than calorie intake. I woud be particularly interested in research indicating that this is true for ‘large number of the population’. Obivously, for various reasons individuals may struggle to ensure that caloric intake does not exceed calories expended (hence the popularity of bariatic surgery), but I am unfamiliar with any medical research in this area that would indicate that weight loss does not occur when calories expended exceed caloric intake. Thanks.

          • Anonymous :

            I would also like to see links to this research.

            FWIW, I know its not the popular opinion and I’m not sure kk phrased it in the most delicate way, but I do believe its true that people generally look better in clothing when they are slimmer. Excess fat and lumps and bumps just make clothing fit oddly. I realize that there are proportion issues and large breasts will not be eliminated by diet and exercise, but many clothing issues could be solved by losing excess fat. Its not easy to do as food is fun and delicious and exercise is hard and takes time, but it is a solution that is there for most people if they want to undertake it.

          • I think it may be true, but for some minority of population with some sorts of hormonal disorders, etc. Of course, as you get older the metabolism slows down so your calories intake also should. Hence, I was also quite surprised about the majority of population. So, out of curiosity, I’m second to get a hint on where to start with the literature review on this topic

          • This article has some journal citations, to start.


          • Happy to oblige.

            Tara Parker-Pope of the NYT also has a great piece (which includes references to the above articles), if you’re looking for something a little less dry, but that still pulls in actual science:


            This one lays out pretty clearly that metabolic and hormonal changes occur after siginficant weight loss, making it incredibly hard to not regain some if not all of that weight back.

            kk, one of the reasons why people are having so many problems with your post is that you make so many ill-thought out, very questionable assumptions that are also frankly condescending. I can’t even bother to be nice, because I think you’re an idiot who hasn’t earned any respect.

            First, you assume people can’t look good in their blazers because they’re fat. Your assertion that slim people look better as a blanket statement perpetuates an unattainable for most people beauty standard and it is very damaging. It is in YOUR subjective opinion that slim people look better. Not everybody agrees. This scrawny, skinny poster completely disagrees with you that slim people always look better in everything. You can’t say that and then pretend you’re not part of the problem that triggers eating disorders in people.

            Plenty of posters have explained why fat isn’t the only reason why someone might not fit well into a blazer. So then, you make comments about diet and exercise that are just blanket statements with not enough facts. The medical evidence that is accumulating suggests it’s not as simple as calories in/calories out.

            Finally, your comment about the open blazer for a pregnant woman with a “sleek body and big belly” looks good had me laughing. At you, not with you. So, you’re assuming that all pregnant women gain weight only in their bellies? It shows how little you know. Which is fine. But then, you show how you want to tell people how to look in order to meet your arbitrary standards, and that’s totally not fine.

          • I’m not going to tell you that you’re an idiot or laugh at you. People have problem with my comment, because it’s actually true, but it’s unpopular to say such things.

            Let’s imagine there is somebody with really yellow teeth, who says that their face doesn’t look good for an interview. And this person is discussing on the most flattering make-up options, discussing (O.K., here I’m getting a bit absurd) if she can use blue lipstick, because it makes her teeth appear whiter. Wouldn’t you just give an advice: hey, just try to whiten your teeth, it’ll make a lot of difference! And now your reaction: yellow teeth is natural, I’m born this way and you’re discriminating my teeth colour.

            This is how this debate looks right now.

            Let’s face it, what is pretty about being 50 lbs overweight, having uneven body, third chin, etc.? Can you be beautiful and embrace it? Yes, some women can be beautiful, but not because they are plus size, rather albeit they are plus size!

            Please, don’t tell me that staying at a healthy weight, say size 6, 8 or 10, “perpetuates an unattainable for most people beauty standard and it is very damaging” and is unattainable due to genetics, illnesses and environmental factors. I never said you have to wear size 0, there is plenty of room between size 4 and 16. I know it’s in fashion to blame anyone around for being obese, but still for majority of people it’s about balancing calories (that they perceive their calorie intake wrongly is another issue, they simply eat more than they think).

            About pregnant women – I said relatively sleek figure in comparison to larger belly. Because this is how majority of pregnant women look like (unless they’ve been very obese before getting pregnant, but regular silhouette of pregnant lady is relatively large belly in comparison to the rest of the body).

          • Anonymous :

            Kk – your response at 4:30 is absurdly rude and condescending. The post is about whether or not you need to button a blazer – not that everyone needs to lose weight to do so. Stop while you’re ahead.

            Honestly I’m happy I don’t have to count you among the people I know and deal with on a daily basis.

          • Sydney Bristow :

            KK I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I find your last post hurtful.

            Regardless of the science of losing weight, it can be a very difficult and painful (both physically and emotionally) process for some people. It’s also important to remember that it is not something that can happen overnight. In your example of being 50 pounds overweight it would take between 25-50 weeks or 6 months-1 year to lose the weight at the recommended rate of 1-2 pounds per week. There are definitely people at all stages within that loss and people who haven’t started the process for any number of reasons. All of these people deserve to look their best each day of the process if they want to. So that is the reason we are still giving this advice.

          • lawsuited :


            I’m fat. And I’m gorgeous.


      • I’m also unsure as to how one can “feel to fat.”

        I know it’s immature to call out somenone’s poor grammar when they make remarks you dislike, but I also think it’s poor form to make recommendations based on your privileged view point.

        • Not that I agree with her posts, but she did state she’s a foreigner, and English isn’t her first language.

          • So? The fact it is not her first language is NO excuse. She can study and learn to speak and write proper English, it just takes time and effort.

            Much like, oh, I don’t know, diet and exercise? Or is it ok to excuse her flaws that SHE could correct if she only took the time and put in the effort, but not to do so for others?

            Hmm. How interesting. I guess it’s “unpopular to say such things”, but I’m no more inclined to excuse poor grammar and spelling that results from what I perceive as laziness and lack of care than kk apparently is to excuse overweight from what she perceives as laziness and lack of care.

    • I’m a 38F with a smallish frame at 5’5″. I could stand to “loose” 20 pounds — which not as easy as you seem to think for someone with a demanding job, lots of travel and age 50+ metabolism, but whatever — but even at my thinnest most of my jackets would not button.

      A jacket that is broad enough across the bust would be ludicrously big in the shoulders. This is the most difficult area to try to tailor, as it would require basically rebuilding the whole jacket. I routinely take in the side seams of sheath dresses and blouses so that they fit my figure-eight better. But it probably would not be feasible, let alone affordable, to buy oversized suit jackets and blazers and have major tailoring done just to meet this arbitrary must-button rule.

      And I agree with Elle, I never really notice if a woman’s jacket is buttoned or not (unless it’s very obviously and severely pulling). If it fits otherwise, the buttoning is not an issue, in my book.

    • Dear KK: I wear a 36 H bra (aka a 36 DDDDD). How, precisely, shall I lose weight to reduce my bra size?

      In other words, I’ll be wearing my suit jackets open, thank you very much.

      • If you loose weight, your bra size with also reduce, for instance to 32 G or H. But, one more time, I’m not urging anyone to diet. You’re 36H and happy, I am 26 F/G and happy, we have different opinions on buttoning the blazers and that’s all OK. It’s not like we need to be clones looking and thinking the same, right?

        • 26 years old or 26 inch band size? Because 26 inch band size sounds like a ten year old girl.

          • And what country are you in exactly because I haven’t seen that size available anywhere in the US or UK online bra shops.

          • 26 inch band (like 65 cm) and fits me perfectly. The band should be rather small as compared to measurements (I have 27 inch in circumference under bust and 36 in the broadest part of my chest), so that the weight of the bust does not rest on arms excessively. Of course it shouldn’t be too tight either.

          • Ginjury, in the UK there’re a few brands, such as Panache. Some brands make even 24 inch! I’m usually buying from Esotiq, I think it’s Polish company.

          • Well that makes sense. It sounds like the way they measure for bra sizes in your country is different from the US/UK. We either measure below the bust and add 5 or 6 inches to determine band size or measure below the armpits at the smallest part above the bust. It sounds like you’d be at least a 32J by our standard, unless you determine cup size differently as well.

          • Lady Harriet :

            I don’t want to get involved in the original argument, but most US bra-fitting advice is terrible, so a band size closer to your underbust measurement will fit much, much better than adding 5 or 6 inches. However, even after losing 70 pounds, I’m still a 32FF while wearing a size 12 or sometimes 10. I’m by no means skinny, so a woman who is truly slim could very easily wear a 26 band, or smaller. Generally jackets that will button over my chest and stomach are so big in the waist that I look like a giant rectangle. Most of my jackets either won’t button or pull when they do.

        • OMG, not necessarily. One of my best friends has F-cup breasts. If she loses weight, she loses it from everywhere on her body EXCEPT her chest. We have had long conversations about this, and I’ve known her since my freshman year of high school, so I’ve seen her at a variety of weights, both greater and lesser–and the only way her breast size has ever changed is to get bigger.

        • KS IT Chick :

          Not always does bra size go down with weight loss. While my band size went down by 2 inches, my cup size went from a B to a DD with a 20-pound weight loss in 2013. I have completely different issues now with blazers & jackets fitting than I did before.

          • It’s like with all the garments, know your size, but you may need to take larger/smaller depending on the brand or model. Many companies adjust to the standards, i..e if women tend to buy too large bands, they also inflate the numbers on the tags.

          • Sorry, it was a reply to Anon’s post below.

        • Bra Size PSA :

          Just a PSA…Skimming the thread reveals some poor education on the bra-sizing front. KK is correct in that the UK brands have a much wider range of sizes, including band and cup sizes.

          What the vast majority of American women don’t know is that the current construct of measuring band, adding a ton of inches, and then calculating the cup size is BULLS#!T. American lingerie companies tell you to add inches so that they can produce a more limited range of sizes, and basically make YOU conform to the size, and not the other way around, which is how it should be. Think about a suit. You’d never measure your hips and then add 4 inches so that you can fit into a designer’s limited sizes, right? Why should you do that with your bra, which could be probably one of the most important pieces of clothing that will end up affecting the way that all of your other clothes on top fit?

          Here’s the deal. Measure around your ribcage. That number (rounded up to the next whole, even number) is your band size. No adding. With KK’s band size of 26, it’s more likely that she is just particularly tiny, both petite & slender.

          I, myself, am 5’2″, 115-118#, wear a 0-4 on top and bottom, sometimes petites, sometimes not. I measure my band at 28″, and my bust is 33″. That means I’m a 28DD. Which isn’t big at all. Neither is a F/G cup when you’re looking at a band size of 26-28 or even 30. A 28DD has the same br3ast volume as a 34B. Those are some “tiny” b00bs.

          Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with proper bra measuring. Your b00bs will love you for it. And your clothes will fit better too. But, don’t go to VS. Their measuring tactics are ALL WRONG. And, don’t expect to find your size in a brick & mortar store if you are 1) Smaller than a 34″ band and/or 2) larger than a DD cup (in any band size).

          Fit yourself. You owe it to your awesome, overachieving self.

          • I have enough trouble getting an “almost A”. Target A cups run a little small and they fit me perfectly… I’ve been wearing the same 6 or 8 Target bras for quite a while now.

          • Bra Size PSA: your comment is more in line with what I know. I mean I wear 26F/G, but can also wear 28 E or 30 D, but they are ill-fitting, unflattering and, most of all, uncomfortable (band moving upwards at the back, my breast are not held properly, etc.). Here, in Europe, there’s a lot of discussion on proper bra sizing since a few years and I have to admit that I really enjoyed switching from 30D to 26F/G in terms of comfort. Availability of my size is limited, but it’s possible to find it in some stores.

            So do I understand correctly that the US (let’s say VS) and UK (Freya, Panache) sizing is actually the same?

          • Bra Size PSA :

            For the most part, US/UK sizing is the same. It gets a little squirrely when you are above a DD, because sometimes it’s a DD, sometimes it’s an E. Sometimes a brand won’t call it an E, until it’s a DDD. So, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines for cup sizes, but band size is band size is band size.

            I am also a reformed horrible-size-wearer. In college long long ago, I was a pretty normal 34C. I probably could have/should have worn a 32, but my br3ast tissue was self-supportive enough that I didn’t need a super-supportive band. I grew to a 38C when I was pregnant, and then down to a 34F when I was nursing.

            After I weaned, I noticed that my 34’s just weren’t supporting my now-depleted-volume br3asts. I went down to a 32DD, and that was a great start. I continued to lose weight, and have found myself between a 28 and 30 band now.

            I have 4 bras that I love, and they’re all 30DD. 2 by Fantasie, 1 by Cleo, 1 by Wacoal. They’re beginning to fail, though, so it is time for new. (They’re nearly a year old, but I’ve rotated them religiously, and hand-washed/air-dried, but the elastic is still beginning to stretch–they just don’t offer the same support)

            My next venture will probably be in the 28’s, and probably DD, as I have still lost some more volume as well. My poor br3asts are very sad…very low, very flat, except for the meager little bit of tissue left beneath the n!pple line. The thing is, when I gather up all of the tissue and the stretched out skin, I’m left with my 28/30DD size. If I could have them surgically lifted (with no augmentation), they’d probably be MUCH smaller in cup after the excess skin was removed.

            But you are absolutely right about comfort rejoicing when you find the right size (which is usually a MUCH smaller band size and a MUCH larger cup size than you would ordinarily think)

          • I love you, Bra Size PSA. All the misinformation out there irritates me to no end.

          • Bra Size PSA :

            Thank you! I would love LOVE love to help women find the right bra size. There are not many things that would give me greater pleasure! Alas, I don’t have the capital to start my own shop, nor are there any around me where I could work. So I will simply spread my goodwill via the interwebz and hope that my own trials & errors will lead others to bra-rejoicing.

          • I disagree with the bra size PSA. It’s better to check the bra company’s size chart. For example, I’m 30″ under my bust, but if I go by Natori chart, it says to add 2″, so I’m a 32″ band. They make 30″, I have tried them on, and they’re way too tight for me to wear (an no, it’s not because I’m used to being lied to by America companies and wear the wrong size). Their chart telling you to add inches is correct. For some brands you may not need to add, but it varies!

          • Anonymous :

            Except Nordstrom! I’m a 32DD, which is hard to find on the ground but at Nordstrom I got properly sized and bought some high-quality bras. I never thought it was possible to forget you’re wearing a bra…until I got properly sized. When I was there I tried on some 30Es and I’m pretty sure thy had 28s, too.

        • KK, do you have some specific exercises that you could recommend so that I could “loose” weight just in my [email protected] tissue? Because that would be so. much.easier than undergoing major surgery to have my [email protected] reduced to size that would allow me to button my jacket.

          You know, since you seem to know so much.

          • Maybe I know much, but I’m sure you know more, right? But since you’ve asked…

            I don’t think that bust-waist ratio is a problem. Finding right fit of the jacket is an issue, because your body doesn’t conform into the statistical norms. If the difference is very large on you, you may need to get a bespoke blazer (yes, pricey, yet I remember some women on this website suggested having suits done in the developing countries for a fraction of the price. Of course it’s crazy to go there just for that purpose). Men have the same problems with the suits, why you assume that any piece from the rack will fit you perfectly?

            I suggested losing weight when you’re plus size and feel too fat, as referred in the yesterday post.

        • Uh, a 32 G or H isn’t going to have an easy time finding blazers to fit either so why does this matter?

        • I am also a 36 H, and have lost 20 lbs without a single inch coming off my bust. So, no, losing weight is not a solution to this particular problem.

    • Anne Shirley :

      Fuck you and your noise. Since we’ve established being shitty to people is totes okay in your world!! Or is nastiness only alright when targeted at the fat? My bad.

      • Pearl Clutcher :

        Maybe I’m too old fashioned, but saying “Fuck you” as a personal attack is way out of line. Even if you disagree with the person’s position heartily. I like that people can express a variety of viewpoints on this site and engage in thoughtful conversation. Upthread, people disagreed but didn’t curse AT the poster.

      • lighten up, Frances

      • Anonymous :

        Are we really saying that acknowledging that people prefer to be a healthy weight is being nasty? People don’t have to be slim or skinny, but people look and feel better when they are toned and not carrying around so much extra weight. People look good when they look proportional.

        • BigLaw Refugee :

          I wouldn’t call what KK did “acknowledging” something. It was really pretty off-topic. The post was about whether a jacket needs to close in order to fit. As numerous posters have pointed out, many people who are not overweight still have issues with finding jackets that can close properly. Also, those of us who need to lose weight know it; it’s not like KK’s wisdom is going to teach us anything. An no one had said in the posts “oh, well now that I know my jackets don’t need to close, I’ve realized I look perfect and no longer need to lose weight!” So the post about how we’d all look better if we just lost weight was not a response to anything that had been said in either the post or the comments, it was not informative, and it was predictably upsetting to many.

          That said, I agree that swearing at her is unnecessary. Swearing is kinda like saying “clearly” in a legal brief – if you find yourself wanting to do it, chances are there are more convincing (and nonoffensive to other readers) words to express your strong opinion.

      • Anonymous :


    • This isn’t a problem that applies only to people who are overweight. I am 5ft 7in/170cm tall, weight 117lbs/53kg, with a 28F-30E bra size, and have a difficulty finding blazers and jackets to button while laying correctly on my bust and hips. I typically buy them 1-2 sizes larger then have the waist and sleeves slimmed, because I think the drape looks better that way. This is expensive, and I understand why other women would prefer to just leave them open. It seems unnecessary to use this topic as an opportunity to lecture people on weight loss, since the blazer problem has more to do with body proportions.

  3. I agree. I’m from the old school that says blazers have to button, and I don’t stress about this since I hardly ever wear blazers anymore. But I have tried on shrunken-style blazers that don’t button on me and still look good. Also, I remember my mother having what she called “Chanel-style” blazers that didn’t even have buttons, and I’d never have thought of pulling the fronts together to make sure they *could* have buttoned had buttons been there.

    If it fits well otherwise, buttoning seems unnecessary.

    • Shrunken blazers are casual as such and Chanel like blazers are intended not to close and then, of course, they do not need to touch, as there are no buttons. However, your interview suit should button (though you may decide to wear it open).

      • I’m just trying to figure out why the interview suit should button, if it’s never going to be worn that way. (My blazers button, but I’m down to about 4 blazers including my interview suit and I wear them about once a year each).

        • anon-oh-no :

          im with you, tesyaa. i have some suit jackets/blazers that button and some that dont (and some that barely do), but i just dont ever wear my suits/blazers buttoned. im not overweight at all (size 4/6) and dont have a particularly large chest (32D) but i just dont like the feeling of being all buttoned up.

          • I’m about the same size and agree. While most of my blazers can button, they look much better unbuttoned. There is just something about my proportions that it’s not flattering, so I think I’m getting on the “doesn’t need to button if you’re never going to button it” boat!

  4. Kat – I strongly object to the term overweight. Plus size, fine. But overweight implies that one should lose weight. Would you call a skinny woman underweight on your blog? If not, I think you should retire the term overweight.

    • Overweight is the correct term for someone who is over the weight they should be. And that does mean they should lose weight. Whether they choose to — or whether they’re able to — is a whole other story. Same goes for someone who is underweight. Any reputable doctor would say the same.

    • Anonymous :

      Seriously? Come on. Some people are overweight. Unhealthily overweight. Meaning…yes, they should lose weight. I know certain terms push people’s buttons, but I frankly think the PC police can do more harm than good in certain situations. Kat is not fat-shaming in this post. She’s talking about clothing for real bodies as they exist in the world.

    • workingmomz :

      Overweight is a normal term. It’s not like Kat said “porker” or something offensive.

    • Ciao, pues :

      if you’d like some fat-shaming, please see the title to yesterday’s post, “feeling too fat to interview.” as Anon at 1:32 pointed out in that thread, the OP said she felt fat and had an upcoming interview. suggesting that she’s “too fat” was all editorial.

      • Anonymous :

        I actually just went back to read that (while eating lunch of all things), and I sort of get your point, but what would an appropriate title to that post have been? The OP obviously felt uncomfortable with her weight and appearance. In my opinion, she (OP) “felt” too fat.

      • Anonymous :

        Kat didn’t suggest that the OP was too fat; she suggested that she “felt” too fat. IMO, Kat made a perfectly reasonable jump from OP’s comments. But even if you disagree, she didn’t say that the OP is too fat. If we are going to attack, let’s at least be honest about it.

      • Ciao, pues :

        The point is that OP never said that she felt too fat to interview; Kat made that jump, as you said. If you go back and read OP’s question, she says she feels fat and even dumpy, but she never says that she “feels too fat to interview” (as in, i just can’t interview on account of how i’m too fat!); rather, she asked for what interview looks would be best. Anon from yesterday suggested the title “What to Do When Your Interview Suit Isn’t Flattering,” which I think is valid.

  5. Lily-Student :

    I think you should always be able to button a jacket, but it might not look great and you might always wear it open. Just think, on that one day when you spill hot chocolate on your top, you’ll be happy you can button your jacket!

    • If I were buying blazers, I wouldn’t spend huge amounts tailoring them just of the off chance I spill my cocoa. And if you spill it on your shirt collar, the buttons aren’t going to do any good anyway.

      • Lily-Student :

        Oh totally, I wouldn’t spend money tailoring to acheive that – it’s just the argument my mum used when she was talking about how silly the girls at my high school looked when they wore their blazers (uniform, I’m in the UK) five sizes too small!

  6. Sydney Bristow :

    I’ve been split on this. I rarely button my jackets unless I’m going to an interview or something equally formal. That said, I tend to think the jacket looks too small if it clearly can’t button so I always buy jackets that I can button even if I’m never going to do that. The shrunken blazer that clearly won’t button doesn’t look good on me personally though it does on others. I think it’s like anything else in that the shrunken blazer look tends to look better on slimmer women or women with flatter chests than mine. I think that I can look better in a lower scoop neck or v-neck than women with a different chest size though. Certain things simply flatter different body types.

    • But the shrunken blazer is a casual wear as such

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I’ve seen shrunken blazers that I would wear to my office, which tends to be on the dressier end of business casual.

    • Anonymous :

      This. I rarely button my jackets, but as a rule, they always have to be able to button comfortably. And I have [had, as I’m currently very pregnant] a size 32DDD chest. I am lucky in that my shoulders and back are slim, so standard size 2/4 jackets still button over my chest and fit elsewhere. I just don’t feel comfortable in a jacket that won’t button. It feels too small in my back. (I know this because many of my jackets won’t button now — I’ve given myself the pregnancy pass on this rule when I absolutely *have* to wear a jacket to work).

      • Anonymous :

        Also, I would like to point out for all the people saying the Oprah jacket would look ridiculous on them because of their chest: Yes. Large chested women should never wear single button blazers. Double or three button jackets are far, far, far better for large chests.

        • Interesting, not sure I’d read this before about avoiding single button blazers (as I sit here wearing one…). I take it you stick to 2-3 buttons given your preferences and size? Yet you wear your jackets open. I’ve always thought open jackets look better if they are just one button. Hmm I must do some thinking on this.

          I have broad shoulders so my jackets can fit all over (though may need taking in at the waist), but they look giant if I leave them open. sigh. I hate buttoning them; I feel so prissy.

  7. Woods-comma-elle :

    I have one suit jacket (business casual office) and it does button but, because of my shape, like June and Anon above ie a lot of bust in proportion to waist, it just accentuates the bust part which isn’t something I want to highlight in a professional setting, so I am always a button undone kind of lady. It’s not a weight thing for me, it’s a body shape thing.

    Also, I have to say, I have never noticed whether someone was wearing their blazer done or undone, but I can imagine how eg in court it would be more of a concern.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      For completeness, I do wear a lot of blazers that are more informal and a lot of them don’t even have buttons.

      • I think the open cardigans that were in style a few years ago (and have narrow fronts that aren’t meant to come together) made it clear that items that don’t button are flattering and, yes, acceptable.

  8. OttLobbyist :

    I usually make sure jackets can button, but don’t rule out a blazer that *just* buttons, but pulls a bit across the shoulder or above the vent in the back, when done up. This is mostly for jackets that aren’t a part of suit or that I tend to wear as a separates. I think if you are wearing a jacket as part of a matching suit, it should button and be appropriately tailored.

  9. (Former) Clueless Summer :

    I prefer wearing blazers unbuttoned (if they are a one or two button style) but to look good unbuttoned, I think they need to be too small. Otherwise there is just a ton of fabric and it looks sloppy. I don’t think too small blazers unbuttoned look bad if the shoulders and arms otherwise fit but maybe people are looking at me thinking my suits don’t fit.

    • I’ve been trying to lose weight for a while (30 pounds down), and am slowly fitting into some of my older suits. As part of this process, I do sometimes have to wear clothing that does not fit perfectly, because I just can’t run to the tailor or Nordstroms every 5 pounds down, and sometimes I’ll go a month without needing a suit, and then not realize that I’m stuck in between sizes.

      One thing I’ve noticed is that when a perfect fit is not an easy option, things that are a little too big look better than things that are too tight. For me, however, the one exception to that are blazers. I find that, like you said, they fall exactly right on me when they are a touch too small.

      And I’m not talking about a giant gap between each side panel – more along the lines of the sides being barely able to touch, and maybe even buttoned if you pulled them together and sucked in the gut, which is quite different than a jacket being able to button in the normal sense of the phrase.

      • (Former) Clueless Summer :

        Are you me??? (Also same 30 pound weight loss – congrats!)

  10. I don’t always button my jackets, but when I do, I prefer that they button with no pulling.

    Sorry, halfway through writing that sentence I realized I just have to channel my inner Dos Equis commercial.

    • anon-oh-no :


    • Double-Bingo :


      This is verbatim what I was thinking while reading this post.

    • hoola hoopa :


      I’m a size 4 but a DD with narrow shoulders. While I often wear a blazer unbottoned, I don’t consider it a proper fit if it can’t.

  11. INC Suiting? :

    Question – does anyone have opinions regarding the INC line of suiting at Macy’s? I’m coming to terms with the fact that my good suits are all a smidge tight as I battle post-holiday bulge. I’m hoping to get back on the bandwagon and shed a few lbs, but in the meantime, I was thinking about getting a transition suit so that I don’t have to feel sausaged into the wrong size. (I wear suits regularly though not every day, maybe once or twice a week).

    The INC line is on super sale right now at Macy’s. I never noticed it before. I know at this price point it is probably not an investment piece that will last forever. Anyone have experience (good or bad) with this line?

    • I’ve had some INC skirts that may well have started life intending to be sold as suit separates. The outer shell material has lasted well, with no tearing or pilling. Some of the linings have not held up as well, but I’ve worn them for many years so this isn’t surprising.

    • I can’t speak to the INC line at Macy’s but I have bought the Calvin Klein line of suit separates that is also currently on sale. They are definitely not an investment piece, but they held up well and as a bonus I was able to wash them and hang dry.

    • hellskitchen :

      I have two INC jackets that are not part of a suit and am pleased with the quality. I got one 3-4 years ago and it has gotten a lot of wear but still looks very good. I got the second one just recently so don’t know if the quality has changed but I wear it over sheath dresses… it looks great and doesn’t feel cheap.

    • Flying Squirrel :

      Can’t speak specifically to suiting, but overall I find the quality of materials from INC to be really, really poor. This didn’t use to be the case, but in the last year or so I’ve returned every single thing I’ve ever tried to order online by INC. And in store I can never bring myself to buy anything, even when I like the look.

      Of Macy’s brands, I think Alfani is similarly priced and much higher quality (though it tends to read a bit older).

  12. I wear my blazers unbuttoned most of the time, so I think it is fine for most situations … however, looking at the intro picture of the lady in the black blazer, something looks awkward. That seems to be one of the styles to me that work fine in TV, but not so well in real business environment, not so drastic as the gladiator sandal, or the mini skirt paired with knee high boots things that you see here and there in TV (all worn by characters portraying ladies in business formal environments). I think if you wear the blazer unbuttoned, it should not speak “I can’t button my blazer” to the viewer. That blazer in the picture looks to me as if no way she could button that thing if she wanted.

  13. Anon Lawyer :

    This post just made me realize I don’t think I’ve ever buttoned a blazer. I’m sure they fit me properly and I can button them but I’ve never done it. Do you ladies wear your jackets buttoned on a regular basis?

    • I had the opposite reaction – this post made me realize that I’ve never NOT buttoned a blazer, at least for part of the day (while outside, if cold, sometimes all day depending on the blazer b/c it looks sleek).

      However, I’m also an A and very, very rarely require any alterations, so that makes it easier to button when I want to (think Kate Middleton body type).

    • Blazers/suits I always button. But got me thinking, cardigans I go both ways with (today buttoned).

      • Doesn’t that bunch up while sitting at your desk though? I generally use the same buttoning conventions that men do. When standing during formal situations. For basically everything else, I leave it open. That’s more for a comfort reason than anything else though. I am distinctly non-curvy.

        • Not really, or at least I haven’t noticed. I didn’t know men unbuttoned until I read it here recently.

    • BigLaw Refugee :

      I almost never button my standard suit jackets, even in meetings. But I have a few jackets that I can and do button. One is a formal suit jacket that I had tailored and still looks really frumpy (it was done when I was this size, but after gaining and losing weight, I now carry the same weight in different places – yay!). I wear that if I’m going to court. I also have one tweed jacket that goes with an A line skirt and mysteriously fits my hourglass figure perfectly (I believe there was a little tailoring when I bought it). It’s my favorite suit, but not formal enough for court.

      Finally, on my short, curvy figure, short jackets that have Peter Pan style collars and clearly are intended to be buttoned all the way from bottom to neck seem to look cute (these are less formal and contrast with my pants).

  14. Anne Shirley :

    Love this post and the general concept of reevaluating what looks good in your head versus in real life. If I could magically get my work style to be a blend of Jane Bingum and Alicia Florrick I would be such a happy camper.

    • If I could combine Alicia Florrick and Claire Underwood (House of Cards/Robin Wright’s character), I’d be over the moon!

  15. PurplePenguins :

    For me, a blazer HAS to be able to button, even if I leave it open. I have a zipper blazer that I always leave open because it looks better, but it can close. Otherwise, it would look too small. Looking at that picture, her blazer looks way too small with that big gap in the front. A blazer isn’t a scarf- it should be able to come together and cover you if its cold, or you spill coffee, or you realize you can see your bra though our shirt, whatever. Also, I tend to unbutton if I’m sitting down for awhile to reduce wrinkles, and then button if I’m walking around.

    It also depends on the blazer- I am plus size with an hourglass figure. Even when I wore a size 10, I still had a large chest (36DDD), so I never buy 1 button blazers. I try to aim for 3 button. This way, I don’t look stupid with my chest wrinkling the blazer (you know what I’m talking about!) as my cups runneth over and are ready to spill out. Also, a 3 button better defines your waist and makes you look slimmer. 1 button runs the risk of having the bottom of the blazer stick out if its too small.

  16. I try to buy blazers/suit jackets that can button and have tailored pieces that are worth tailoring. That being said, I do have a few that I never button (J. Crew schoolboy blazer, I am looking at you). One thing I’ve found as a 30DD is to stop buying one-button blazers/jackets. If I stick to two-button styles, they typically fit my body better and allow me to button it as needed/wanted. The one-button styles flap open at the chest even when buttoned because the solo button is in a bad spot for my body. Two-button styles have a somewhat higher “stance” and tend to be more flattering on me. Some of them aren’t cut properly either and I feel like I end up looking like yards of fabric. Finding a good tailor has been a life saver for me. I will typically take a number of items to him and he will tell me what’s worth tailoring and what’s not. Our desire to buy off the rack and not tailor isn’t doing any of us any favors. I don’t know a single man who buys good suits/good sport coats and expects them to fit off the rack. They get them tailored to fit properly in the arm length, chest, back, etc.

    • hoola hoopa :

      How does your off-the-rack blazer fit like before you bring it to the tailor?

      I’m a 30DD with narrow shoulders. I’ve consided getting a two-button tailored, but I’ve been unsure about how to pick the item to be tailored. If it fits in the shoulders, it’s too small in front and the tailor can’t just magically make more fabric appear. If it fits in the bust, the shoulders are far too wide and that seems like it would be so complicated to tailor to fit that it’s not even worth it. I had thought bespoke was the only way, which I dismissed as too expensive.

      For off the rack, I’ve had the best luck with one-button blazers with a waist panel. It gives some visual and maybe structural heft to the area and doesn’t make it look so pulled.

      • I think you stole my body! I too have narrow shoulders (almost non-existent).

        Off the rack pre-tailoring, I try to fit my chest area comfortably. Sometimes that means the shoulders are way too big/arms too long and like Jules said above that can be a pricey alteration. Sometimes the waist area is too large when the chest area fits well. Sometimes the back is swimming in fabric; sometimes the length of the jacket is just way off.

        In all honesty, it’s really hit or miss. I buy multiple items, take them to my tailor and he picks out the ones worthy of fixing. He’s flat out refused to alter some items because they are no longer well-made and the fabric quality is bad for the price point – usually anything that’s not real wool, almost everything from Theory/J Crew suiting. I really appreciate his brutal honesty. I end up buying and returning quite a few items each season but overall I feel like it’s worth the time, effort and cost.

        I’m also trying to buy fewer pieces but better quality. I feel better about altering those to fit me properly. Last fall I bought a Hugo Boss suit and got rid of 3 black Theory suits (none of which fit properly despite being different sizes/styles). Brooks Brothers and Lafayette 148 also seem to be fitting me well and “approved” by my tailor.

      • P.S. If you’re in LA, I’d be happy to give you the tailor’s name!

        • SoCalAtty :

          Anon OP – hopefully you see this – could I PLEASE have the tailor’s information? I’m in LA and have been searching for a great tailor and haven’t found one yet. Meyerlemony at gmail dot com. Thanks!

      • BigLaw Refugee :

        Check the seams. It may be possible to let the jacket OUT just a bit in certain places, but it depends how wide the seam is. Back when clothes were hand-sewn, there might be as much as an inch of fabric on the hidden side of the seam; now it’s often much less. But an extra half-inch can make all the difference. I usually have my jackets taken in a bit at the waist and let out a bit at the hips.

        I think in most circumstances you can get away with a jacket that is not a standard, matching, structured suit jacket. I recommend experimenting with non-matching jackets because then you can focus on finding individual items that fit (pants and skirts in neutral colors and seasonless wool fabric) and contrasting jackets that also fit, perhaps with stretchier, more forgiving fabrics or cuts that tend to work better. I think women have a lot more leeway than men – as long as you look put together and structured, you aren’t limited to a “suit.”

        In court, who knows – some judges will complain about wearing pants, but I think most probably wouldn’t care if you wore a non-suit.

    • Bra Size PSA :

      Where do you girls get your 30DD bras?? I’ve only ever had luck online, and am not particularly looking forward to the order/try-on/return/repeat if I can help it.

      I also have narrow & sloping shoulders, and I find that a lot of the balconnet styles tend to have very wide-set straps, and so they become uncomfortably wide after a while. I’ve actually begun to apply a “widget” to my straps (basically a 6″ piece of elastic with hooks on both ends) that pulls them inward so as not to slip off my shoulders. Are there any out there where the straps meet closer to the middle in the back?

      I almost always have trouble with structured pieces with shoulder width/torso length.

      • Trial and error over several years and a combination of in-store and online purchases. I started at Intimacy and Linda’s (in New York). Once I figured out the brands and styles that worked for me and the specific sizes in brands/styles, I started ordering online. I’ve accepted that balconnet styles will hardly ever fit me because of my scrawny shoulders. I have one convertible style bra that lets you change the straps to a halter style or shoulder straps but the interesting thing is there are two different locations on the back of the band to attach the straps. I rarely wear it as a halter and have left the straps in the slots closer to the middle of my back. Intimacy also offers tailoring. While I haven’t done this for any bras when I’ve purchased them, I have gone back and had one made smaller in the band after it stretched out too much.

      • Diamond Lil :

        Nordstroms generally has a good variety of narrower band/larger cup bras. Try to choose an older sales lady, though, and even better if she’s busty. I’ve had pushback with some of the younger ones who just don’t have the years of experience with fitting a variety of bodies and can’t believe I’m a 34FF. The middle-aged Eastern European lady who fit me the first time in Seattle? She looked me over and got me to within 1 cup size with her first try.

      • I’ve found the sub-Reddit ABraThatFits to be the best place to get advice on bra styles/ sizes. They also have a link to an off-line store wiki that includes the band and cup size ranges for a ton of big chains and local boutiques.

      • I get mine at Just buy 10 or so and return the 8 or 9 (or 10) that don’t fit. Much more efficient than just ordering one at a time and crossing your fingers.

  17. Burn this post, burn these threads. Burn them to the ground.

  18. This is most definitely a proportions issue not a size issue. I am 5’6 size 2 and by bmi standards considered underweight, but because I am naturally more of a 6 and workout to get by 2 I have very large breasts in proportion to the rest of me, that in conjunction with the fact that I have a very short waist (have to wear petite tops) and disproportionately long legs, I have given up on a blazer that buttons properly.

  19. Oprah looks huge with that jacket buttoned.