Jacket Styles For Work and Play

from Paris to LA: ode to the jacket

versatile black jacket

dressed up: earrings | blouse | watch | pants | bag | shoes
dressed down: earrings | shirt | jeans | bag | cuff | shoes

Today Tish of A Femme d’un Certain Age and I are collaborating on one of our favorite topics: jackets. We both love a good jacket, and rather than a set framework, we’re each taking this topic and running with it (free associating, if you will), and it will be fun to see where we each wind up.

Let’s talk about the almost magical powers of a good jacket. Is there any other wardrobe item that can help us feel so pulled together, and is appropriate for so many situations? Throw a jacket on over that tee shirt and jeans, and voilà! You are Dressed. No matter what your style, there’s probably a jacket out there that will dovetail nicely with it.

After several years of cropped-and-boxy jacket dominance, I’m happy to see the tide turning toward longer, softer and often more shaped styles. My lifestyle (full-time office job) and our climate (mild, mostly) mean that I’m always on the lookout for jackets that are able to be worn indoors, and that are lightweight. Washable is a plus, but not a deal-breaker. Most of the jackets in my current wardrobe fall into one (sometimes two) of these categories: structured, soft and statement.

Structured jackets (similar to the one above) don’t have to be stiff or stuffy. Fabrics like lightweight wools with a bit of stretch allow freedom of movement, and multi-season wear. I’ve found that the more structured the jacket, the more important it is to get fit through the shoulders correct. The seam between shoulder and sleeve should just hit at the widest part of the shoulder, not above it or extend beyond it. Even a structured jacket can be part of a more casual outfit, just avoid bulky pieces at the same time.


soft jacket

dressed up: earrings | lips | shirt | watch | bag | pants | shoes
dressed down: earrings | top | bracelet | bracelet | bag | jeans | shoes

“Soft” encompasses a wide range of jacket styles, from knits to slouchy boyfriend, to dusters, to open shawl-collar designs. Above I’ve styled a looser boyfriend jacket. When I incorporate a slouchier jacket into an outfit, I try to balance the silhouette by adding some structure keeping other pieces relatively fitted or including heels or a collared shirt, or by wearing cropped pants and/or pushing or rolling up the jacket sleeves to reveal a bit of skin.


DAY Birger et Mikkelsen jacket

dressed up: earrings | top | ring | pants | bag | shoes
dressed down: sunglasses | necklace | tee | bag | jeans | shoes

Statement jackets are intended to be the strong focal point of an outfit. That focus pulling element might be a print, a bright color, an interesting cut or design detail. (I do think it’s best to keep the “interest” to no more than two of those elements though, lest you look like you’re wearing the whole circus.)  When wearing a statement jacket, my style strategy is to keep the rest of the outfit simple, neutral and complementary.


I’m looking forward to seeing how Tish has tackled this topic! What are your favorite jacket styles? Do you wear jackets with casual outfits too?
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  1. March 4, 2015 / 3:13 am

    Hello, dear Pseu,

    How funny. Without discussing anything more than the subject “let’s talk about jackets” we’ve said almost the same thing regarding their magical function.

    We MUST do this more often.

    How clever of you to put together outfits, but then again you are a very, very clever girl.


  2. Duchesse
    March 4, 2015 / 6:03 am

    Can’t remember the last time I wore an “inside” jacket; really like them- retired life equals jeans and sweaters or tops, indoors. To get quality tailoring in a jacket (even the ‘unstructured’ ones need to be well cut) I have also encountered sticker shock, but I would spend because as you say, a good jacket is magical.

  3. nell
    March 4, 2015 / 8:15 am

    I love a “third layer” of any kind, including jackets, cardigans, occasionally a vest. Agree with your perceptive comment about the shoulder issue! My jackets are often in a “jean jacket” cut or something similar, even though most of them are in fabrics other than denim. That casual silhouette seems to work well with the skirts I tend to wear. If there is princess seaming or other shaping to bring in the waist, so much the better!

    I used to be drawn to an almost military jacket vibe, but gradually realized that epaulets, overt zippers, grommets etc. are too obvious and agressive details for me to carry off. Simple, trim, not too long jackets are what suit me, preferably in a pretty color to complement an otherwise neutral outfit.

  4. March 4, 2015 / 8:28 am

    I have only one dressy jacket in my wardrobe now that I am retired and it is a tweedy Chanel style…I wear cashmere cardigans instead. I own a leather moto jacket and a jean jacket which I wear outside.
    I am off to read what Tish has to say now….

  5. March 4, 2015 / 8:28 am

    Love to throw on a good jacket over the most casual of outfits – transformation!

  6. March 4, 2015 / 9:49 am

    I love all kinds of jackets. With a pear shape and small shoulders I always look better with some structure on top. But because I’m so casual I end up buying softly structured toppers and sometimes add shoulder pads. Love your samples here.

  7. March 4, 2015 / 12:51 pm

    I am pretty much in a jacket constantly. I have them in different shapes, lengths, textures, materials and even have some grey ones. The best part of jackets is that they can be worn with anything, anytime and anywhere. I have one or two really big statement jackets. You can wear them with a skirt, pants or a dress. I probably have more jackets than any other item in my wardrobe.

    Accidental Icon

  8. March 4, 2015 / 4:30 pm

    I also wear a lot of what could be called “jeans jackets”, although not necessarily blue denim. I’m always cold, and keep my flat cool for respiratory as well as financial and ecological reasons; currently at home alone I have a somewhat ratty cotton velvet jacket on over a long-sleeved cotton tee and a merino pullover.

    I’m also very busty with small shoulders, and find an open jacket reduces that without making me look like a huge mass. Yes, seams are a big help there.

  9. karen
    March 4, 2015 / 7:20 pm

    I need a statement jacket–actually I have one, the red plaid blazer.

    • une femme
      March 4, 2015 / 7:25 pm

      And don’t forget the leopard… 🙂

  10. March 5, 2015 / 1:03 am

    I spend years wearing a jacket every day when I was training in the corporate market and when I stopped the last thing I wanted to wear was a jacket. Now I am loving them again. They give structure to a look. Like your choices.

  11. March 6, 2015 / 1:25 am

    Great post and I LOVE the outfits you’ve styled – they are all simple and utterly wearable with max chic (casual included). I find the normal structure tailored jackets less easy to wear simply because of my broad shoulders so my saviours are knit jackets which I adore wearing throughout the year. I have a lovely grey wool Theory jacket which is a slim bf fit and I am dying to learn how to wear it casually with jeans and even dresses so thank you for pointing the way!

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