No, matter what your profession is; there is a blazer created in mind for every industry and every woman — from sleek, black, and tailored to hot pink, cropped, and sleeveless. If you wear a blazer, it should reflect your style, personality and professional stance in the work world.
Historically, suits (I’m talking full-on pantsuits) have offered women freedom, power, stability, and, of course, controversy. Fast forward to modern day, and everyone from street style stars to first ladies are embracing the blazer as they make their entrance into cocktail parties and the C-Suite alike.
We know the blazer is a wardrobe must for working women, but how did it become an emblem of the working woman throughout the decades, and how can we use this closet fundamental to our corporate advantage?
Whether your workplace is fairly buttoned up or you’ve got more stylistic freedom, blazers flawlessly bridge the connection between poised and professional.
So how you can you utilize the power of the blazer? Heeding style nods from history’s trailblazing women through the decades, there are three core principles to follow with blazers: (1) make sure the color is right (2) make sure the fit is right (3) make sure it represents who you want to be.
Get the message across that you deserve respect by adhering to these golden rules:
Find the right colors
While literally any color of blazer will suffice, the color that makes you feel your absolute best looking and confident self is key.
You should always consider that what you wear and the colors you choose convey an unspoken message — even if you don’t like the thought, it’s undeniably true. The color of your blazer can have a dramatic effect on how you are perceived by others, so keep that in mind.
Black is often regarded as the most professional, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most versatile, especially if you prefer lighter colors. Greys and blues can make just as strong of a statement. Both of those hues are associated with intelligence and confidence and convey a good work ethic.
In contrast to darker shades, white blazers are fantastic for those wanting to give off a more approachable and friendly vibe. However, white does not discount formality. It just gives you that extra oomph that black can’t, and is actually perceived as the boldest color in the blazer department.
Now bright colors, whether pink, purple or green, are really the best of both worlds — fashion and corporate — because you’re still getting the structure and dominance of the blazer; you’re just doing it in a way that more loudly expresses who you are and what you’re about. Vibrantly colored blazers are amazing for a variety of reasons. And while many would say they aren’t “safe” in the corporate realm, I say go ahead and wear them.
No one ever got anywhere by avoiding risks, right?
Get the perfect fit
The fit of a blazer can make or break a look, which means it can make or break the way you carry yourself and the way others perceive you.
Structural blazers fitted in the arms and across the shoulders are your best bet, here. You should be able to button your blazer with ease, but it should still look and feel tailored, polished and refined.
If oversized blazers are more your thing, à la the “Editor Blazer,” worn proudly by the magazine industry’s elite editors and publishers, then by all means, try the longer, more informal blazer out for size and see what you think.
The main point for this rule (and all of them, really) is to choose something that makes you feel empowered and fearless.
Make sure it represents who you want to be
The evolution of the power suit mirrored the status of female emancipation and empowerment. From the suffragette suit (featuring a looser fit than traditional Victorian and Edwardian dress to allow women activists more freedom and movement) to the serious suit (think business-style pantsuits) to the Le Smoking suit (a more feminine tuxedo created by Yves Saint Laurent in the 60s, much to society’s chagrin), the supremacy of the blazer has always stood for breaking gender norms and, more importantly, the status quo.
Women were making their mark in the work world in the 1970s, for example, by way of the “serious suit.” This was a time when more and more women were “invading the man’s work domain,” so they needed a symbol which proved they were just as serious and smart as the men that were riding the elevators with them. And, unfortunately, it seemed the only way to convince male-dominated boardrooms of that was to dress like them.
Jackie Kennedy’s effortless and elegant style set the bar for not only the women during that time period, but also for women of today. Considering the on-duty wardrobes of Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge, Melania Trump, and countless other high-profile women in the spotlight, many have followed in Jackie’s footsteps by reprising her sleek, suited style.
On a more recent note, pop singer Janelle Monae exclusively wears tuxedos when performing. In a 2010 interview, she explained her “work uniform,” saying, “I feel like I have a responsibility to my community and other young girls to help redefine what it looks like to be a woman.”
As women, we are still fighting for equal pay and equal representation in the workforce. Let’s continue to fight with our blazers as armor, as a hat tip to women of years past who were ridiculed and even punished for donning various forms of the “man’s” suit, for they are the unsung heroes of modern-day working women.
Looking to learn more about people’s opinions on appropriate workplace dress? Check out InHerSight’s Community Questions & Answers and submit a question of your own!
By Ashley Alt
Ashley Alt is a creative writer specializing on topics all self-driven women can relate to. She is known for her fashion forward sense of style, obsession with healthy snacking and honest life advice. Her dream of living in NYC will become reality when her toddler goes to college. Her past work can be found at https://www.ashleyalt.com/.