|Elizabeth & James man-tailored jacket from Saks|
We know the Safe Jacket, wardrobe stalwart, work staple, dependable travel companion. I once deplaned from a business meeting to find the overhead bin stuffed with four identical black man-tailored jackets. I found mine by the label. That's when I decided to forsake conventional blazers.
I'm shopping for a jacket, and am not a woman who can pull off Ines de la Fressange's trick of buying a blazer two sizes too small to make it "cuter". I'd estimate the percentage of Passage readers who can do so is lower than my milk-fat choice.
So let's look at some jackets that avoid the safe, man-clone look. Some price points are high, but we will consider them so that we can apply the three guidelines that signal a smokin' jacket, whatever our budget.
1. Look for an element of surprise.
Don't you tire of the sea of collar-and-lapel cuts on offer? I would like to avoid that convention altogether.
Isaac Mizrahi wool bow jacket, $2,277 from Saks. The front is strict; then she turns.
|KaufmanFranco leather and knit|
KaufmanFranco's jacket, with a knit body and leather sleeves smokes superlatively! The merino/baby alpaca is going to feel fantastic. But all that style and sass comes at a price: $1,695 at Neiman Marcus.
When I found this, I swooned, sighed, murmured "Frrrrench". Carven have gentled classic tailoring while keeping the impeccable line, all in soft taupe. The pocketed wool flannel blazer is $800 at net-a-porter.
2. Find a lush colour
Colour adds life and richness to the classic blazer body; the art is finding a shade so unexpected that you can use it like a neutral.
Boden offer a velvet blazer, one of my all-time beloved items, in a range of patterns and colours, including leopard and tiger but not a very subtle leopard or tiger. I'd look like a plush toy.
My favourite is the vibrant mallard. (I have avoided Boden for years because of their exorbitant shipping rates and iffy quality, but a friend says they have improved.) Price, £75.
|Boden velvet blazer|
|J. Crew velvet schoolboy|
J. Crew's velvet schoolboy blazer comes in tantalizing colours, including this dark blossom, and the moody olive moss; price, $168.
3. Catch a weave
A knit jacket fills the need for polish, with the bonus of comfort and packability. Maybe, I thought, after unbuttoning endless stretch wool fabrics, I need a knit.
|Rachel Comey knit|
Rachel Comey Fair-Isle knit jacket, $380. Defined shoulders and a belt elevate this from being just-a-sweater, and the pattern will work with any neutral.
Boden's Barcelona jacket, shown here in fig melange, has the sophistication to skip from jeans to workday. Price, £89.
Goat Langley Knitted Jacket in petrol shows the detail I would expect when investing €465. Worn with soft pants or a skirt, this smokes in a most rafinée manner. Also available in rose; at Stylebop.com.
So far, I'm still looking, but swaying toward soft, no collar or lapel unless it's one of those intense velvets. You can't have smokin' without some heat!