Before my first day of work, I asked my boss about our company dress code. He said that business casual was the office norm, with business formal attire reserved for client meetings. His response was immediately followed by the qualification, “You should dress the way you want to be perceived.” Gee, thanks, boss. No pressure. No pressure at all.
My standard uniform these days has consisted of an intentionally safe formula of dark trousers + heels + blouse + blazer. However, I recently decided to explore some alternative blazer options to give my usual J. Crew wool schoolboys a break from the heavy rotation. In particular I was looking for some different cuts and fabrics in dark, neutral tones, no shiny buttons– not anything too crazy and different (I haven’t racked up enough idiosyncrasy credits yet to stray that far from our office norms), but interesting enough to give my mostly conservative outfits a bit more modern polish and character. In this post, I review two options from J. Crew: the Regent blazer and the Japanese crepe blazer.
First, here are some photos of the Regent blazer. I ordered it in the Heather Carbon color during a recent promo:
Approximate measurements of size Petite 00: overall length (top of shoulder to bottom hem in back) 22.5″, across shoulders 13.5″, across body (armpit to armpit) 16″, sleeves (from shoulder) 22″. Material: 98% wool, 2% spandex; 100% polyester body lining; 95% polyester, 5% spandex sleeve lining.
The quality of the dark grey wool fabric looks good up close. I like the hunter green wool piping detail on the back of the standing collar. Like the other J. Crew blazers I own, the blazer is fully lined. The body of the jacket is lined in dark grey fabric, while the sleeves are lined in a lighter striped fabric, giving some nice visual interest when the sleeves are rolled up. The buttons at the cuff are functional. In addition to the pockets at the waist and chest, there is also an internal pocket on the left hand side that could hold a small wallet and keys. Single button closure in front.
This is what the blazer looks like on me:
Some of the reviews on the J. Crew website state that the sizing runs a little small. I typically wear P00 in J. Crew clothing and found that while the cut of the blazer is slimmer than my schoolboys, the overall fit was fine and comfortable in the sleeves and torso (note, this is with me wearing a blouse and cami combo underneath). Compared to the schoolboy blazer, the length on this is longer. I appreciate that it covers my butt if I wanted to wear this casually with leggings or jeans. While I like the way the standing collar looks, I think I prefer the look of the blazer with the collar slightly folded down to create the slightest of lapels. The collar did stay folded down when I wore it for the day in the office. Overall, I liked the Regent and would recommend it as a cool alternative to the schoolboy.
Next up is the Japanese crepe blazer. I ordered this in Navy:
Approximate measurements of size Petite 00: overall length (top of shoulder to bottom hem in back) 22.5″, across shoulders 13.5″, across body (armpit to armpit) 15.5″, sleeves (from shoulder) 22″. Material: 70% triacetate, 30% polyester; 100% polyester lining.
When I first ordered this blazer, I was a bit hesitant about the poly blend fabric because most of my blazers are wool or cotton. However, in person the poly blend looked fine to me, not wrinkle-prone, slick, or shiny (i.e., not cheap-looking). The fabric isn’t heavy, but it isn’t super lightweight either. Because of this, I think the jacket could be worn in multiple seasons.
Again, the blazer is fully lined in dark fabric. The hidden buttons at the cuff are functional. There are pockets at the waist and chest, in addition to the inner left hand side. Single button closure in front. Here is what the blazer looks like on:
Compared to the Regent and the schoolboy, the cut of the torso is less boxy and more fitted to the body. Like the Regent, the body length on this blazer is longer than the schoolboy. As noted on the website, the blazer has less structure and a drapey feel to it, so for me it could transition quite well from professional to casual wear.
Another important detail to point out: when I put the blazer on, I realized that it had shoulder pads. Umm, 80’s much? I know that some people might be iffy about rocking shoulder pad situations (as am I). Granted, I didn’t feel like a linebacker in the blazer and the shoulder pads didn’t look dated, so they weren’t a deal breaker for me. I get that the pads serve the purpose of giving the blazer the tiniest bit of structure for a clean, tailored line. Overall, I would recommend this jacket as a well-made basic (plus, it is currently on sale!).
The Upshot: I like both blazers and their sharper, sleeker cuts compared to my regular schoolboy blazers. Personally, I think the longer lengths are a nice update to the “shrunken” blazers of past seasons. Some people are not fans of the standing collar on the Regent blazer, but I like the option of being able to fold it down for two very different looks, so the versatility wins some points for me (the blazer also comes in glen plaid and houndstooth patterns that look pretty cool and are also currently on sale). Again, the Japanese crepe blazer is a good closet staple and the non-wrinkle-prone fabric is a plus in my book. However, if you don’t like shoulder pads, this might not be the staple jacket for you.
In closing, since I was basically comparing three different blazers in this post, I thought I’d put in a table comparing their measurements for you to use as a quick reference:
|Regent Blazer||Japanese Crepe Blazer||Schoolboy Blazer (Fall 2012)|
|Overall length (top of shoulder to bottom hem in back)||22.5″||22.5″||19.75″|
|Across body (armpit to armpit)||16″||15.5″||16″|
|Sleeves (from shoulder)||22″||22″||21.25″|
Hope this helps!