Jackets are one of the most useful and versatile garments you may have in your wardrobe. A more formal jacket will make any outfit more formal or professional by adding a collar. A casual jacket can dress down more formal attire. One of the easiest ways to make your jeans outfit more dressy is by adding a blazer style jacket.
Jackets can act as the Third Piece, plus add that layer to cover all your assets that you may not always want to flaunt.
There are lots of different styles of jackets. From casual jackets like a bomber, through to classic, via relaxed and comfortable drape jackets and the feminine peplum.
- A higher buttoning or closing jacket is better for those with a smaller bust.
- Draped lapels tend to overwhelm petite’s.
- Unstructured jackets suit those who are more relaxed in their style and O shapes.
- A wider collar will balance wide hips.
- Double-breasted styles are best on narrower shoulders and smaller busts (such as A shapes)
- Unstructured styles are more comfortable, but less formal
And there are lots of different collar details to consider, which both express personality style, and also can work with or against your body shape and features.
How to Choose a Flattering Jacket Lapel or Collar
- A peaked lapel draws the eye upwards and is great for petites.
- A cloverleaf lapel is curved and looks great with people who have more curved facial features such as a curved jaw, full lips, large round eyes.
- An asymmetric collar looks great on someone who is creative, or someone who has asymmetric facial features, or uneven shoulders.
- A scalloped collar is feminine in its personality style.
- A mandarin collar is great for I shapes and those with a small bust.
- A high notched lapel is classic in its styling and universally easy to wear.
How to Choose a Jacket with Flattering Pockets
- Flap pockets add extra detail around your waist so should be avoided by H and O shapes (and anyone not wanting to draw attention to their waist)
- Patch pockets add extra emphasis and broadening horizontal lines to the waist and hips, so often not the best option if they can be avoided
- Safari pockets att emphasis and volume at the waist and on the bust, so avoid if you have a large bust or undefined waist
- Welt and jet pockets are generally the most flattering, but if you don’t want to add attention make sure there isn’t an alternate coloured piping or detail on the pocket opening.
How to Choose a Flattering Jacket Length
And then there is the topic of how long your jacket should ideally be to flatter your body shape? It’s important to remember that a hem usually creates a horizontal line across the body where it ends. And if you’re up on my 3 rules of horizontal lines, you’ll know that horizontals are broadening, so you don’t want to end a top or jacket (or put any kind of hem) on an area of your body that you don’t want to widen.
- Cropped jackets draw attention to the rib cage and also shorten the torso (great if you have long body proportions and a narrow rib cage, they are often ideal to be worn with dresses as they provide a proportional balance.
- Waist length jackets draw attention to the waist – so good for waisted body shapes (X, 8 and A shapes)
- High hip length jackets are generally good for most body shapes (except O shapes) as they create a balancing proportion
- Hip length are good for V shapes and I shapes who have narrower hips and should be avoided by X and A shapes
- 3/4 are good for most shapes
- 7/8 are better for those who are taller rather than shorter as you can start to get swamped by too much fabric if you’re petite
- Mid-calf – best avoided by anyone who has a curvier calf or is petite
Remember, if you’re not sure of your shape, you can do my free body shape calculator quiz here and get your body shape bible, or if you’d like my professional opinion on your shape you can get that as part of my 7 Steps to Style program here.
Express Your Personality with a Jacket
Jackets also express information about your personality. As you can see in the picture below that a jacket can express your personality. The fabrication, construction and detail all combine to create a message.
Jackets are not all classic or for an office environment! From casual denim, to rebellious leather there are so many elements and jacket designs to choose from.
Plus there is a never-ending number of ways to style jackets as well.
Do you have a favourite jacket?
More Jacket Tips
Love this post – it really breaks down why my eye likes certain styles of jackets, because they suit my shape! I absolutely cannot live without jackets! Being an A-shape with a generous bust and slight shoulders, some sort of shaped structure over my upper half is really needed. I personally believe that a few jackets, both business-like and casual, HAVE to be part of the wardrobe essentials. You can even dress-down a business jacket by rolling up the cuffs. I don’t think the general public has an idea how much a jacket make any outfit look tidy and presentable, with such ease.
And thank goodness for 3/4 length jacket sleeves…. an essential for someone with short arms, a small waist and tiny wrists (but big thighs). The “horizontal line” is in exactly the right spot. Besides, can’t stand material flopping near my hands – too restricting. Since I’ve discovered them, I can now wear jackets to my heart’s content!
Keep doing more posts on the awesomeness of jackets, Imogen:-)
Maree – you can always use a large rubber band to hold up the sleeves of longer jackets to make them 3/4 sleeve!
For some reason, Queensland boutiques don’t buy in a lot of jackets or coats to choose from. I think I will have to fly to Melbourne to buy one. It has been a chilly season and I am trying to make do with a few light knits. Where do you go shopping for jackets?
Leonie – I tend to have more luck in boutiques than the chain stores – but I’m always keeping my eyes out for great jackets!
Excellent post, as always.
I’d have one specific question regarding dressing up/down though. I have many cardigans – cotton, colourful, not v structured, they are pretty but casual. If I was to wear any of these with something elegant, such as a top and a skirt (both made of satin), the cardigan would not dress the top and skirt down, it would simply look out of place and the outfit wouldn’t look v harmonious. I have similar trouble with a highly elegant jacket and a simple cotton T-shirt/dress underneath. The jump from causal/comfy to dressy seems just too great. I’ve always had trouble regarding this, I do like ‘elegant’ : my style/personality is undoubtedly dramatic but somehow I am also drawn to anything beautiful and feminine. The impression I would usually like to create is stylish and classy. But I generally need to tone down most outfits, as wearing something that is perfect for the theatre is too dressy for every-day life in my line of work.
In short, the biggest problem I’ve had concerning dressing up and down is which materials really go together. Any tips most welcome, thanks so much in advance.
Susie – I’ll write a separate post on this!
I love the versatility of jackets, and could definitely do with a few more in my wardrobe. I like simple, slightly fitted styles best and usually wear them open and with scrunched sleeves. Oh, yes, and I do like them in a stunning colour, too.
What do you suggest as a jacket shape for those who want the illusion of a waist? My torso is pretty straight :/
Basal = there are lots of jacket options with those who have a straight shape – read up the posts on H shape and I shape (depending which of those you are).
My jacket collection is getting almost as big as my shoe collection these days!
My favourite has got to be my hot pink blazer, certainly grabs attention when I’m out, so always best to combine it with a few large glasses of wine 🙂