Is there a blazer for everywhere?

The origins of the blazer are somewhat shrouded in mystery: some stories claim it was invented by rowers in St. John’s College, Cambridge, which wore bright red jackets in the 1920s; others suggest it was popularized by the crew of HMS Blazer in 1837 when Queen Victoria came aboard. What is indisputable is that since its debut in Vogue in 1893the blazer has been an important part of almost every wardrobe.

Blazers are simply the perfect bridge garment: it looks grown-up but not as tight as a suit; gender neutral; warm enough to wear when there is a chill in the air, but not so warm as to be suffocating; good partner for dresses, T-shirts, sweaters, jeans; and always appropriate.

Blazers experienced something of an identity crisis during the months of working from home (what’s the point of a jacket when you’re sitting at your kitchen table?), but since we’ve started venturing out into the world again, this particular item of clothing has come into its own as the best solution for any number of wardrobe scenarios – including running after kids.

This is because it’s proven to be the perfect garment to throw on top of your former WFH uniform to transform it (and thus you) into a more polished version of whoever you’ve become. As a result, the question is no longer: to blazer or not to blazer? You h. Of course your blazer.

The question is: Which blazer? Considering they’re available in pretty much every material and print under the sun, it can be a daunting choice. (My go-to is a Dries Van Noten number from years ago in a silver sari silk.)

But if you’re going to focus on just one go-anywhere blazer, consider the collarless jacket (or collarless blazer). That was Nikki Ogunnaike’s suggestion, the senior digital director of Harper’s Bazaar, when I asked. Trading the raised collar and lapels of the classic blazer takes the look one step away from the suit and one step closer to the T-shirt, and in those steps is all the difference.

Look for fabric with a more tactile weave, like bouclé or tweed rather than wool, perhaps with a slightly cropped cut, like this version from IN PEACE. It’s expensive, but cheaper versions from previous seasons can be found on sites like Poshmark. For more affordable alternatives, check out J.Crew and this tweedy Chanel-esque version from Aqua.

Another option Nikki suggested to explore is the sweater blazer, which is basically a cardigan with a little more substance. They are, she said, “infinitely more relaxed than wool workwear blazers, but still polished.” Look at J. Manskabfabrik, Anthropology and Summer salt for opportunities. So go out in a (yes, I’ll say it) swoon of glory.

Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to her at any time e-mail or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.

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