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

sweater blazer with UV protection UniqloA cardigan cut like a blazer can be a great option if you want a comfortable, flexible option. Also, the shorter length here would be great paired with dresses. I like that this one also apparently blocks UV rays. It’s available in five colors, sizes XS-XL, for $39. UV Cut Cardigan Jacket
linen blend blazer LimitedI’m always a fan of a light blue blazer — they get so much wear (as a lot of readers agreed in our last post on blue suits). This linen one from Limited looks nice — it’s $130 full price, but is $65 today — and it’s available in petite and tall sizes, as well as regular sizes XS-XXL. Lightweight Linen Blazer
scalloped blazer banana republicI am surprised by how much I like this (mostly) cotton jacket, because I think I decided in elementary school that the scalloped look wasn’t for me. But: scallops are a big trend right now, and I actually really like the look on the blazer. It doesn’t hurt that this taupey color is a great topper for an otherwise all-black summer outfit. It’s $168 full price, available in sizes 2-12. Collarless Scallop Blazer
linen Hobbs jacketHello, sale! This summer blazer is actually part of a linen suit over at Hobbs. I love the navy, as well as the shrunken fit. The blazer was $375 but is now marked to $210. Indie Jacket
pique cotton blazer plus sizesAnother light blue one! This one is worthy of discussion because not only does it come in plus sizes as well as regular and petite sizes, but it’s cotton pique. It’s harder to find women’s workwear in pique, but in my experience it tends to wrinkle less and and be a little more… breezy, if that makes sense. The blazer is $268-$289 at Nordstrom. Classiques Entier® ‘Prima’ Piqué One-Button Blazer
Theory linen blazerAaah, this collarless linen blazer from Theory is perfect — lightweight, clean, modern. I always like three-quarter sleeves, also. The blazer comes in black, white, and beige for $355 from Nordstrom. Theory ‘Lindrayia’ Linen Blend Blazer

Ladies, which are your favorite summer blazers?  How do you wear them? 

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!


summer blazers for women


  1. Anonymous :

    “I like that this one also apparently blocks UV rays.” …doesn’t all clothing block UV rays? Or at least all reasonably thick clothing? I mean maybe a very pale girl could get a slight tan through a linen blouse, but I’m pretty sure if you lay in direct sunlight for five hours in any blazer, the part of your skin that was covered by the blazer would not be any darker than it was before.

    • Yeah, I feel that way about all “UV treated” material. I have yet to ever get a sunburn (or even a remotely noticeable tan or freckle) through clothing of any weight that’s suitable for public wearing…

      • Meg Murry :

        Most materials aren’t even “UV treated” – they’ve just been tested so that it can be used as a marketing claim. There are a lot of products out there that claim to “block X% of Y” or “kill Y% of germs” etc – but all that usually means is that they’ve been tested, whereas many of the other products on the may do the same thing but doesn’t have testing data to back it up. So I take any claim like this with a few giant boulders of salt, unless they can show me data that shows that the average product on the market doesn’t also do the same thing.

        According to this, a thin white cotton T-shirt lets through 1/5th of the sun’s UV rays, or in other words, blocks about 80% of UV rays. So for this blazer to block 90% of UV rays really isn’t anything all that special.

        Although I looked a little further and it looks like this blazer is rated as UPF 40 – so it’s actually only letting through 1/40th of the UV rays, or less than 3% if I’m interpreting the standard correctly. So if you have a skin condition, maybe you care about this – but from what I’m reading it looks like an awful lot of materials that aren’t sheer or a loose weave have a fairly high UPF rating on their own, they just haven’t been tested to be able to claim that on the label.

        • ha, that makes sense — another version of “it’s toasted!” (RIP Mad Men)

    • Anonymous :

      Notwithstanding the UV blocking claims, it’s a great summer blazer – comfortable and flattering on my short waisted curvy body. I bought one in navy this spring and it’s been my go-to. I like it so much that I recently bought it in 2 other colors.

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  3. SuziStockbroker :

    Please talk tome about how I would wear the pale blue Limited blazer. I went back to the post Kat linked, but didn’t find it super helpful.

    I mean, I can see it with dresses. Grey, purple, black (?), but not sure how I would make it work with skirts and blouses….

    Might just be me (one of the reasons I like suits is it makes it so easy to get dressed!).

    • Senior Attorney :

      I would wear a light blue blazer with a red skirt, as well as the colors you mentioned. And I like to have a blouse with a pattern to tie the colors together. White would also work for some color blocking action.

    • Bewitched :

      I think that particular blazer is tough because of the length. YMMV, but I think it’s much more flattering to have a blazer end at the hip bone. That one seems several inches below (perhaps it is the model).

    • I have a pale blue blazer like this I love. I wear it with black, gray, white, navy, tan, olive, floral patterns, white and navy stripes, anything with a bit of yellow or red in it – it’s really versatile. If you search on Pinterest for “light blue blazer outfit” or just “light blue blazer” you’ll find tons of ideas.

  4. LostInTranslation :

    Why do people still make linen blazers? They’re cooler than synthetics, I get it, but doesn’t linen wrinkle terribly? Or has that changed with new blends or something? I remember about 10 years ago getting off the bus behind a woman whose summer linen blazer looked like a hot mess – and she hadn’t even made it into work yet!

    • Nope. Linen is still wrinkly. There are some nicer blends out there that are somewhat less of a problem, but for the most part I’ve given up on linen for exactly that reason.

      • anon-oh-no :

        I don’t know. I have 2 linen blazers that wear pretty well. One of them is lined (perhaps defeating some of the purpose of the linen), but they do OK. Sure, they are more wrinkly then a regular wool suit jacket, but they still look good in the summer.

    • TO Lawyer :

      +1 – last year I got rid of a blush coloured blazer I loved because the linen was just too wrinkly.

      • LostInTranslation :

        Too bad. Talbots is a place I like for blazers generally but they continue to pump out so much linen in the summer.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I have a bunch of linen blazers and I just embrace the wrinkles. They are unlined and pretty unstructured so they’re not designed to look super crisp, so I think it works.

  5. I’m an academic starting a new teaching job at a university in a Midwestern city. There’s a week of orientation activities a few weeks before the start of classes, which includes workshops inside, obviously, but also tours of campus and some meals off campus. Any thoughts on how to dress for the week? I want to look professional, obviously, but I’m not sure I need to look as formal as I will for teaching. Walkable shoes seem like a must, but I’m short and prefer a slight heel. Suggestions from academics especially welcome!

    I’m early 30s, size 14 and busty.

    • I would definitely plan on a blazer as your outer layer and a dress underneath. Inside, which will likely be the more formal stuff, you can wear your blazer and look professional and not freeze in the AC. Outside, the blazer comes off and you’re relatively comfortable. I usually only want dresses with at least elbow length sleeves (this is at least partially influenced by my big ol’ upper arm tattoo that doesn’t get shown at work) but this might be an instance where a sleeveless dress under a blazer is the right call. I would probably go for a bit of a “personality” dress (a pattern, fun colors, cute cut) with a more boring blazer.

      Also, you might want to consider outfits/dresses that would work with a blazer OR a cardigan, so that if, after the first day, you feel like a blazer is too much, you can dress down a little by subbing in a cardigan.

    • It probably depends on your department. My engineering prof husband would be wearing shorts and a polo. He also wears shorts to teach. I bet you will see a wide range of attire.

      • Anonymous :

        +1 My husband is a professor in a STEM field and he wears shorts and flip-flops to teach in late August. For an event like this he’d probably dress up a bit more (at my urging) and wear jeans and a polo, but he would never wear a blazer or dress pants or anything. I’d probably wear ankle pants in a fun color, a t-shirt and a blazer and definitely flats.

      • Geographer here. Lots of khaki and jeans, or anything boring and slightly rugged, always with sensible shoes.
        Your best bet is probably to wear something that would fit in at a casual/social event at a conference in your discipline. But really, everybody is doing their best to remember everything you’re being told, so if you aren’t directly connected to their job, you’ll fade into background for them.

    • I would think it would depend on your discipline. People in the humanities tend to dress up quite a bit more than earth scientist, who are likely to wear khaki or jeans. What do you wear to professional conferences?

    • swimsuits! :

      hello fellow academic! be prepared for air conditioning. otherwise, don’t forget that many academics look terrible, so you’ll probably look fine whatever you choose. I think you’d skew a bit overdressed in a blazer, although it could work…go with the separates option or something like ponte, not a full suit. A ponte dress is another option. Personally, I’m partial to the lightweight button down (I like Loft) + pencil skirt or ankle pants + flats or wedges + scarf formula; I’m a 31 yo academic in the humanities.

    • I am in my mid 30s and an administrator at a university in the south. yes, for some reason the STEM divisions look very casual in shorts. Don’t let this be you!

      I wear dresses, pencil skirts, blouses, cardigans and heels most days. I do have a handful of blazers and struggle with putting together outfits. I am also busty, so sweaters look better on me. Most of my clothes are from Ann Taylor or Boden. If I wear pants or jeans, I will wear a dressy blouse, but that is only on Fridays or a rare day when I have no meetings.

  6. Watched Out :

    Threadjack apologies, I’m desperate for office style advice… Recently got (nicely) called out by a junior partner for not wearing a watch (which is fair, I was two minutes late–stuck in a conference room with a slow clock). I’m a midlevel at a whitest-of-white-shoes firm in NYC, and am generally on the conservative/formal side when it comes to my usual office behavior and style choices. I hate having things banging on my wrist but accept that a watch may be nonnegotiable. In that light, can I get away wearing a 50 buck Timex, or do you think it will read as childish/unprofessional/sort of skint? (It’s a pretty Timex, with a tortoiseshell-colored band, but it’s definitely a Timex with the big, almost-hipster oversized face and the cheap goldtone finishes.)

    Truth is, I just don’t feel like shelling out for a Nice Watch at the moment. My mom wants to give me hers–beautiful, appropriate, loaded with inspirational and sentimental value–for my 30th, but that’s not for a couple years (and I really can’t ask her to hurry up!). I can definitely afford it but it just feels wasteful to spend upward of several hundred dollars on a watch that I’ll wear for a couple years and no more (and I don’t have any youngers to whom I can pass it on). If I wanted to take a stand on materiality with a stubbornly inexpensive watch, nobody would call me out, I know–but I don’t want to take a stand, I just want to fly under the Unchallenged Appropriateness Radar.

    • Anonymous :

      You are overthinking. i am sure your watch is fine. I always take mine off to type in my own office but I put it back when I leave for meetings etc. You’re even more likely to be fine if you are wearing long sleeves, which would probably cover the watch. Also, if you are really worried about the oversized dial, just turn it over so that it is “palm up.” Also.. there are a world of choices between a 50 buck Timex and a Nice Watch.. that would still be appropriate.. but I bet you are ok.

      • That was my thought–if your current watch feels too clunky but you think you need to wear one, you could get one you think looks appropriate and wear it for a couple years, maybe even with the band you already have.

    • Never too many shoes :

      Honestly, I am not sure you need to start wearing a watch based on that one comment, regardless of the firm. I often look around at Discoveries and Court and hardly anyone is wearing a watch as most people look at their phones for that sort of thing. And there is nothing inappropriate about not wearing a watch.

    • I have a nice watch but it keeps terrible time (it’s automatic but never winds enough) and it’s more for jewelry than function. If I’m worried about a very specific time (in my case to catch a train or flight or something like that) I use my cell. Is that an option for you?

      • Get a MOVADO. Dad told me I needed to look profesional, so I went and got one. All the peeople in court love it and it looks alot more expensive then it is. Let us know how you make out. I could go shoppeing with you at L&T for it, as I too am an attorney at law in NYC.

    • I have a Skagen watch that gets mistaken for a “nice” watch all the time and I love it. It also keeps good time. They’re more than Timex (mine was $125), but less than a truly “nice” watch, so if you’re willing to compromise a bit and I’d consider getting a watch in that price range. That way, even once you have your mother’s watch, you have something as a backup, and hopefully you won’t hate it in the meantime.

      • Watched Out :

        Ooh I like this plan. Thanks for the rec! I feel like the 100ish price range is so flooded with pretty but unreliable options that I don’t even want to start looking, but you may just have resolved that problem.

        (Waffles, cell phone is definitely my preferred option, but I was feeling like I have to make a change thanks to the partner comment. He’s known for being excessively brilliant and excessively a hardass–no surprise they go hand-in-hand.)

        In any case I’m feeling increasingly reassured. If I do remain defiantly watchless in the name of cell phones and modernity, thanks to all for the input and support :)

  7. Elizabeth :

    I wear Blazers in hot weather and they’re fine…I think the fact that the fabric is away from the body makes it tolerable. Cooler than a clingy top.