Ask Allie: Styling a Chambray Blazer

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I just bought this chambray blazer from J. Crew but I don’t know what to wear it with so I don’t look like my mom who wears denim blazers all the time. I wore denim blazers last time they were popular and need ideas on how to look new. Thanks!

When I started this blog back in 2005 I had two denim blazers: one structured and tailored from Ann Taylor, and one with puffed sleeves and a more relaxed look. I found denim blazers utterly brilliant, as versatile as jeans but with the polish needed for work or to dress up a simple tee and chinos or white jeans. A year later, neither blazer was in my wardrobe because they felt dated. In fact I wrote a piece telling women to toss all their denim and chambray shirts to look more stylish! And now it’s Spring 2014 and most every retailer is selling some form of denim or chambray shirt, jacket, or blazer. It’s proof that fashion trend are cyclical, and that fashion advice dates itself pretty quickly!

Though denim and chambray blazers are back in style, that doesn’t mean you can necessarily pull your blazers from a decade ago and make them work now. The cuts that are popular now aren’t always what was sold before. The J. Crew Chambray Schoolboy Blazer is a shrunken fit, meaning it fits very close to the body with slimmer sleeves, and has menswear details. The chambray is crisp, not wrinkled or slouchy. Noticing these details helps not just to decide if older blazers could work now, but also how to style this specific blazer.

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For this look, I kept it simple, using pieces you may already have in your wardrobe. While I paired the blazer with cropped navy pants, feel free to show your personality with a bright color or print. I love the versatility of striped knits, and they work well with chambray giving a nautical feel. Add a bit of spunk to a classic look with loafers in an unexpected hue.


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Chambray looks fresh with white denim, for this look I paired the shrunken blazer with slim white jeans for a streamlined silhouette. With two neutrals, brights can really shine; an orange silk tee takes this look from ordinary to luxe and Business Casual-appropriate. I created this ensemble and immediately thought of the Banana Republic statement necklace I featured in this post. Nude shoes keep the look from being too loud.


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Such a blazer looks great with skirts, be it a pleated number that falls right above the knees, or a classic pencil. I kept the colors neutral, showing how a chambray blazer doesn’t have to be paired with color. A pair of printed pumps (leopard or cheetah is always a fun choice) adds interest, a shiny necklace keeps it from looking like a uniform.


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And finally, this look shows how a blazer of this shape looks great with pants of all lengths. With a navy silk blouse and neutral heels, the statement trousers take the limelight. With such a bold color, keep accessories to a minimum so the effect is chic, not cheap.

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A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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