My employer requires me to wear a blazer or jacket every day. No cardigans. Just blazers.
I only make an assistant’s salary and finding jackets that I can afford is not easy. Can you suggest a few stores that sell well made jackets that don’t cost more than $100 or $150? It would be a big help.
Beyond H&M, Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe, there are a few retailers where I have found blazers that didn’t break the bank and were also well-constructed. But before we talk about where to find them, let’s talk about what to look for in a blazer.
Cut. When you put on a blazer, you should see that it has a shape. It shouldn’t hang lifelessly on the body. Many blazers need tailoring to look perfect, but there should already be some shape to it.
Fabric. When buying inexpensive clothes, you run into a lot of synthetic fibers or blend fabrics. This isn’t necessarily a bad a thing. It’s all about feel. Is the fabric pleasant to the touch? Does it feel smooth and soft or plastic and artificial? Does it feel thick and substantial or thin and flimsy?
Lining. I never buy a jacket that isn’t fully lined, and I try to avoid cheap, see-through liners. A decent quality lining means that care was probably taken with the construction.
Seams. Look at the hems and seams: do they lay flat or do they pucker? Is the stitching straight or crooked? Does the thread look like it’s ready to bust at any moment? How much extra fabric was left on the other side of the seam? Be wary of jackets with cheap-looking seams, they can fall apart or wear poorly.
Now, where to find good stuff for cheap-ish prices…
Mango. I’ve purchased two blazers at Mango and been very happy with both. The tuxedo jacket it bought last Christmas has great heft and fabric feel and looks much more expensive than it is. I often get asked if the jacket is Rag & Bone.
I also like Mango because, unlike The Limited or Banana Republic, their blazers have interesting shapes, details and colors. This bright pink peplum ($120) could be fun with a navy skirt or grey pants. The black jacket ($60) has a sleek shape and a cool, notched neckline.
Piperlime. A few of the stores designers (Tinley Road, MM Couture, Pim + Larkin) offer stylish blazers in the under-$125 price point. Both of these blazers are from Tinley Road. The blue Bleeker Blazer is $69 and comes in several fun or basic colors. The Waverly Collarless Blazer is also $69 and comes in a few colors. I also like that Piperlime has free shipping and free returns.
Dorothy Perkins. The selection isn’t quite as good at D. Perkins, but I have found one or two fun jackets there. I own this striped number (I like it with jeans/red accents and over white dresses.) and wear it when I travel.
Zara. This is my go-to store for inexpensive jackets. I own the fuchsia jacket above ($99) in black and wear it constantly. The sleeves are just puffed enough to be interesting but not so puffed that I look like Anne of Green Gables. I also like this striped jacket ($129) for the width of the stripe, the neutral palette and the little details on the pockets. It would look so chic with a black pant or white jean.
Want a few more suggestions? This Rebecca Minkoff Becky Jacket-knock off from Ann Taylor is $128. The LOFT also has a fun piped tweed jacket for $98. And you can sometimes find good things on the J.CREW sale site–like this eyelet blazer for $90.