The Hunt: Festive Blazers

festive blazers 2017 Update: We still think the festive blazers featured here are great for work and holiday office parties — but if you’re looking for in-stock items, you may want to check out our more recent roundup of the best winter blazers to wear to work

Sure, 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.

I seem to recall that some readers were dubious about this the last time I posted that a festive blazer was a must-have, but I’m 100% serious here. Velvet is my fabric of choice — the matte fabric is more office-friendly than a metallic blazer, and — should sequins enter the picture, such as the tank I posted this weekend or one of the sequined miniskirts we’re seeing this season — velvet holds up much better than, say, lace.  I fondly remember buying my first velvet blazer — I had been hunting for weeks, desperate for something to wear to my 10-year high school reunion, held around this time of the year in a local bar famous for its wings.  I wound up getting a single button , violet purple velvet blazer from Anne Klein (on sale for around $50!) with a great peplum flounce in the back.  I wore it to my high school reunion with jeans and, having just recently lost a lot of weight, felt like hot stuff the whole night.  (Why yes, the former quarterback did ask for my number — so what if he was divorced and balding with a 10-year-0ld kid?)  Anyway: for $50, I would have been perfectly happy if I never wore the blazer again.  But I was amazed how much use I got out of it — I wore it to the office with gray trousers.  I wore it to the staff holiday party with a black sheath dress.  It became my go-to blazer for desk-to-dinner outings with friends.  I think I finally hung it up around Valentine’s Day… but happily pulled it out the next November.  If I were buying one now, these would be the ones on my list.  Readers, do you consider a festive blazer a must-have?  Have you bought any great ones recently (or have any victory stories about old favorites, like mine, to share)?

T-TAHARI BlazerThis T-Tahari blazer is the lowest priced, fitted blazer that I could find that I would want.  Love the jacquard, vertical pattern, the contrast trim, and the price: $108 at T-TAHARI Blazer
Corduroy Equestrian JacketCorduroy is another option if velvet isn’t your deal — it’s a bit less festive, but that just means you can get more wear out of it at the office.  I like this equestrian-themed one from White House | Black Market — the grosgrain details and cutaway front look great.  It’s $128, sizes 00-16. Corduroy Equestrian Jacket
Vince Camuto Jacket, Three-Quarter-Sleeve Velvet BlazerI love this “sweet plum” color (very close to my first velvet blazer!)  It’s $189 at Macy’s, but you can take an extra 20% off with code ELECT, bringing the price down to $151. Vince Camuto Jacket, Three-Quarter-Sleeve Velvet Blazer
Rachel Zoe Hutton Velvet Blazer, BlackLe sigh: gorgeous. This Rachel Zoe blazer (also pictured in purple at the very top of this post) is “inspired by the leisurely luxury of vintage men’s smoking jackets,” and it looks it. I’ll bet the velvet is extremely soft for the price, too: $425. (The black is at CUSP; the purple is at Neiman Marcus.) Rachel Zoe Hutton Velvet Blazer, Black
Alice + Olivia 'Elyse' Metallic Brocade BlazerI prefer the sumptuousness of velvet to the stiffness of brocade, but that’s me — this metallic brocade blazer is really gorgeous. (Also: I finally know what to wear my orange leather pants with!) The blazer is $485, available for pre-order at Nordstrom. Alice + Olivia ‘Elyse’ Metallic Brocade Blazer
Nanette Lepore Lace JacketI have mixed feelings on lace — love it for nights out and weddings; but usually hate it for the office.  Still, for a festive jacket, I like the look of this electric green one from Nanette Lepore — such an unusual color, and I think the lace overlay/colorblocked look works here.  It’s $498 at Nordstrom.   Nanette Lepore Lace Jacket

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  1. Research, Not Law :

    Love the plum velvet pick with 3/4 sleeves. The green lace really brings back memories of 1994, but not in a good way.

    I am surprised by how often I wear mine (dark green velvet from Zara 2004). Not sure I would call it a ‘must have’, but definitely a useful piece to have in your closet.

    • I had a pink one in college that I wore the death out of. I retrieved a hunter green substitute from my closet and am struggling with it since I think it looks best with brown or tan and my wardrobe is mostly grey and blues.

      • Research, Not Law :

        Isn’t that funny, I most frequently pair mine with grey bottoms and black tops. I don’t think it would go well with blue, though.

  2. LadyEnginerd :

    I love my velvet blazer too! I have two from J Crew, and I’m considering buying a navy or hunter green one this year (select colors are on sale, but I’m not so keen on the idea of a bright. yellow. velvet blazer).

  3. karenpadi :

    I’ve gone through two velvet blazers–purple and chocolate brown. They are lovely and extremely versatile. I’ve worn them at the holidays and as a fun warm-ish layer for cool evenings and late nights year-round.

    • hellskitchen :

      I have a chocolate brown velvet blazer but I don’t know what to pair it with. I paired it with a rust-colored sweater dress once but it looked like too much brown. Any ideas?

      • karenpadi :

        I wore mine with jeans (black or blue), cords, or grey slacks. It would also work with khakis or olive bottoms.

      • Lady Harriet :

        Color-wise, I think chocolate brown would be great with a darker red or royal blue top.

  4. When I think of velvet I think of the time my older sister wore a long velvet dress to Homecoming. When she sat down, the nap (?) of the velvet made a distinct impression of her rear end. I still cringe for her to this day, 20 years later.

    I love the first blazer you posted.

  5. Yes, I consider them so much a necessity I have four black velvet jackets in my wardrobe! All different styles, and two are by Izaac Mizrahi – one is a true blazer, the other has a Nehru collar. They are incredibly versatile, a great way to get more use out of traditional suit separates, as well as dress up jeans, and essential in a chilly office. Its worth investing the time to find ones made of good quality material, & that fit well – my two IM ones are over 10 years old & still going strong.

  6. I’ve never been a big fan of velvet anything, but you all are making me reconsider that. Who knew velvet blazers were so well acclaimed?

  7. I agree with everyone here — I have two from J Crew, one navy and one black. They are absolutely perfect for looking professional and festive at the same time! If it’s for a work event, I’ll wear it work pants/skirt with a matte tank. For fancier occasions I’ve worn it with a silk camisole and lace skirt. For holidays with friends/family, I wear it with a sequined tank and trouser jeans. I seriously can’t sing the praises of a velvet blazer enough.

  8. Oooh, love the purple velvet.

  9. I have a black velvet blazer in my closet that has not seen much wear. You guys have given me some options to try.

  10. purple velvet blazer :

    I have had a blazer similar to the first in my closet for years, but I don’t find myself wearing it that often. Two issues – 1) For most of the right season for it (November – February) – I am always too cold to wear just the blazer. Is it weird to wear a coat over it? Also, that is pretty uncomfortable – squishing a blazer under a coat. 2) What colors look good to wear with it for tops underneath? And for shoes – black is OK, right?

    Tips welcome! TIA!

    • Yes – wear a coat over it. (I’m just going to smile over the thought of not wearing a coat Nov-Mar :)) If your coat doesn’t fit over a blazer, then I’m guessing you don’t normally wear a coat over blazers. In that case, if you want the look, I’d just carry the blazer separately and just switch to the blazer when you are indoors.

    • ….or wear a big wool or cashmere wrap over the blazer if you aren’t going to be outside too much…

      ….or wear a cape. They have been pretty trendy over the last few years, but are also undeniably classic, and are my preferred outerwear for dressy events in the winter.

    • anonymous :

      I love velvet in winter. Under my black velvet blazer, I tend to wear fairly festive tops–e.g., a dark gray sequined tank, a sheer navy silk shirt, a dark purple abstract print. With cigarette pants, that’s my default outfit for holiday parties.

      My usual winter coat fits over my suit jackets and blazers (I buy my coats in tall to make sure the jacket sleeves don’t poke out). Thicker tweed or velvet blazers sometimes do seem to have a bit more fabric than necessary in the arms, so I just wear my larger wool coat over those (it’s a slightly swingy long one somewhere between a trench and a pea coat, and it keeps my elbows from feeling constricted).

    • Absolutely wear a coat over it. A good investment is a coat that fits over suit jackets, even for regular work suits in the winter. If its cold enough to need a coat it really should be big enough to fit a jacket or thick sweater underneath.

      Being me & my love of velvet, one of mine is a black wool coat with black velvet trim that I often use, but in warmer weather I add a pashmina or wrap to color coordinate with whatever I’m wearing under the jacket.

  11. I have a gorgeous crimson velvet blazer that ties in the front with a matching silk ribbon. I wear it to various Christmas events every year. I got mine at TJMaxx about 7 years ago.

  12. Maddie Ross :

    I have a black velvet blazer from The Limited that I bought in like 1999 that is seriously one of the biggest workhorses in my wardrobe. It’s one button and I originally bought it to wear as outerwear (haha – back in college) so it fits a little looser than some of my other blazers. It however is absolutely perfect and goes with everything. I wear it a lot over cashmere turtlenecks when it’s really cold since my office is business formal. I also wear it a lot with different colors of The Skirt (again, since I’m technically supposed to be wearing a suit).

    • emcsquared :

      I have a black velvet blazer from The Limited as well! I got mine on sale after the holidays a few years ago (think I paid less than $20), and wear it all.the.time. I wear it over cigarette pants with a sparkly top and high heel boots when I’m going out for a slightly dress dinner, or over a pencil skirt and turtleneck sweater if I’m going to a nice dinner. I’m thinking this might be the year to wear it with a flouncy short skirt and tuxedo top for a holiday party, but we’ll see!

      I have used mine as a replacement for a light fall jacket, but I definitely wear a full wool coat if the temperature is below 40.

  13. Greensleeves :

    I love White House Black Market for festive velvet blazers. I have a black and a crimson currently, and I think both were from WHBM.

  14. Lady Harriet :

    I just bought a black velvet blazer this weekend! It’s from Chico’s, which my mother finds hilarious, since I’m about 50 years younger than their target demographic, but the clothes from there often seem to work really well on my body. I got it for $5 at Goodwill, since I don’t have the disposable income that usually goes along with shopping at Chico’s. I’ve had two other black velvet blazers in the past, so I’m happy to have one that fits again. It’s even machine washable!

    I’m also excited that I can once again fit in to the vintage purple-maroon velvet blazer I’ve been hanging on to for years. I wore it when I was a lawyer for my 8th grade social studies class mock trial, but I gained a bunch of weight after that which has only now come off. I got a hand-me-down dark teal velvet swing jacket earlier this year, but I wear it belted so it looks sort of like a wrap blazer.

    I love how that first picture is styled. The wrap blouse under the velvet suit is great.

    • Love that you got it a Goodwill!

      • Lady Harriet :

        It really is a magical place! Where I live now (SW Florida) they have a much better selection and prices than they did where I used to live (WI).

        • Oh, so jealous of that find!
          Also, that you had a purple velvet blazer from 8th grade–which you wore to be a lawyer for a mock trial. Nerd love.

          • Lady Harriet :

            I can remember my whole outfit from that day perfectly. :) I wore the blazer, a navy shiny silk button up, a black pencil skirt, ribbed navy tights, and a pair of very frumpy black pumps. I was so embarrassed to be dressed up outside of class that I changed back into regular clothes at lunch, but now I think I probably looked pretty good, aside from those silly shoes.

            I didn’t go into law at all, as it turned out. I’m much less confrontational than I was as an early teenager. Right now I’m trying to become a statistician of some sort, but I’m so impressed by all you ladies who are in law!

    • Lady Harriet :

      Also, if I ever find a brocade blazer that looks good on me, I will die of happiness. I adore brocade. I just remembered that I have one more velvet blazer–it’s black with frog closures and a red satin faux-brocade printed lining. In a moment of desperation, I once wore it to a job interview. (I hadn’t even applied for the job, but the company called me out of the blue because they’d seen my resume online. I had no notice, so I couldn’t go shopping, and none of my other blazers at the time fit.) I didn’t get the job, but I don’t think the jacket had anything to do with that. It wasn’t really something I was interested in, and the only way I really qualified was that I spoke French, which they wanted. I actually ended up being way more dressed up than either of the ladies interviewing me, one of whom was wearing black jeans.

  15. Mountain Girl :

    Threadjack: Does anybody have this skirt?

    I’ve been looking for a camel non-pencil skirt for several months and this one fits the bill. I’m just a bit uncertain about which size to order so any help would be appreciated. Thanks

  16. Co-sign on the velvet blazer love.
    Do not get the green lace one at all though. Especially paired as it is with black. I thought it was a cropped blazer/shrug for some terrible mother of the bride dress at first. Not a fan of that shade of green with black either — looks too poison ivy for me. Maybe lace blazers just shouldn’t be a thing, at least for work?

  17. I want a pair of Birkenstock shoes for work. My feet are killing me from years of no arch support since I have a flip-flop kind of office. But, I am afraid I will be so frumpy! Any alternative suggestions? Or suggestions as to what kind of pants I can wear them with so I don’t look terrible? My feet need help!!!!

    • Lady Harriet :

      I have the Birkenstock Bali sandals, which I think are much cuter than the traditional Birkenstock style. A friend of mine has the Granada sandals, which I think are also cute. If you need a lot of arch support but want something dressier, Orthaheel and Earthies also make some nice shoes. My friend who has the Granadas swears by Earthies, and I plan to get a pair myself. Some of the styles are really cute, and some are horrifically ugly. Orthaheel’s sandals are better looking than their closed-toe shoes, in my opinion, and they have a lot of dressier flip flop styles if that’s what you’re looking for.

      I currently own a pair of Dansko Sissy sandals which are cute, and reasonably comfortable. They don’t have enough arch support for me, but I think I just have freakishly high arches, since none of the reviews I’ve read online had this problem. If your arches are more average you should be fine with them, and they have a two-inch heel without feeling like it at all. Mine are black patent so they look dressier, and I wear them to work several times a week. (I’m in Florida, so sandals can be worn most of the year.)

      For comfortable shoes that aren’t all ugly, I highly recommend the blog Barking Dog Shoes. It has great suggestions! (Link to follow.)

    • Kara Starbuck :

      +! for Barking Dog Shoes.
      Also, would a casual slip-on with a removable insole work for you instead? My arches are such that I’ve never found sandals that didn’t leave my feet sore after any significant walking. I LOVE the Superfeet Berry insoles (their high-insole model for women) and switch them among my removable-insole shoes. My favorite summer shoe is cotton no-show liner socks (my feet are ridiculously sweaty) + the SuperFeet Berry insoles + Privo Ardea flats. I think that the Ardeas are discontinued, but Privo has other similar slipons.

      • Lady Harriet :

        Ooh, good idea! I also like Spenco insoles. They’re not too expensive, and they have good padding and arch support. My only caveat is that they’re not meant to hold up to 40+ hours a week on your feet. I completely squashed all the padding out of the heels of a pair within a couple of months when I was working retail earlier this year. For normal wear, they’re great, though.

  18. I got a black velvet gucci blazer and was also surprised by how awesome it is. Helps that I found it without looking for anything in particular at a second hand shop and got it for $50. The only problem is that the hubs also has a black velvet blazer and it looks silly if we wear them at the same time. So one of us has to call dibs when going to holiday parties.

  19. Hmmmm. I love the featured purple blazer, but the fabric and color seem very festive, as opposed to appropriate for the office. Does anyone think this could be dressed down for office wear, and how? I’m a lawyer and my typical dress is business casual to formal, depending on what I’m doing.

    • Tweed skirt in a purple/black/navy combo, solid black or navy shirt.

      Black or charcoal wool pinstripe pants, w/black or charcoal shirt. Bonus points for purple pinstripes in the pants to match the jacket.

    • Navy pants and white or blue top.

  20. Just wanted to add to the love for velvet blazers. I often do a 2-week road-trip each December to my European and East coast counterparts, and a favourite style of midnight-blue velvet blazer is the most hard-working item in my bag. It goes to the office, to dinners, on short flights, with jeans and I’ve recently discovered it works beautifully for black-tie with a pair of cropped trousers, jewellery and festive shoes. I say ‘favourite style’ because I’ve had the same design re-made a few times over the years after wearing out the first successful version.

    • That’s smart – I really need a new blue jacket in my wardrobe & maybe I should have one of my favorite styles remade in navy velvet.

  21. I’m now lusting after the purple velvet with the 3/4 sleeves. But I’m on a shopping ban. Someone please buy it so I can live vicariously.

  22. Calibrachoa :

    I’m a goth and not ashamed to admit it. So I am just going to sit here and pout about the fact that it is nigh impossible to find a velvet blazer (or several) that fit my UK26/42K top side. :(

    (also, may I suggest picking one of the lovely ladies from the USA series Suits for a360 review? )

  23. I am trying to find a fitted hunter green blazer to wear with jeans, etc. (like the purple one) here. Any ideas on where to find?

    • Did you try Talbots? They are usually a reliable source of fitted blazers & hunter green is typically in their color palette. I’d suggest Brooks Bros too, but I’m not sure about color availability there.