Change style by changing jacket

If you typically wear a ‘Key 3’ outfit of top, bottom, and layer – you probably already know it’s easy to change the whole look simply by changing the layer (or, even easier, the fabric).

Janice of the Vivienne Files recently suggested a basic wardrobe of classic knits, tees, shirts, slim pants/ jeans. Here’s her post on it. And my post on possible patterns.

Janice’s only ‘layer’ was a denim shirt-jacket. Which made the whole wardrobe look ultra-casual.

Very easy to change the style of this garment group by changing the jacket.
Here are some of the many options.

Soft cascade styles, short drape (McCall’s 6444), or long drape (McCall’s 6084), depending which flatters your body shape.

”m6444” ”m6064”

Other casual styles, such as hoodie (McCall’s 6614), or quilted (Butterick 5532).

”m6614” ”b5532”

More fitted, such as notched collar blazer (Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6655), or collarless (Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6441).

”m6655” ”m6441”

These are all ‘modern classics’.

Angie at You Look Fab suggests the blazer version as a fashion formula for this season.
(Though actually it’s been a fashion formula for decades. I can remember navy blazer/ white shirt/ blue jeans/ black flats being standard Parisienne style around 1990.)

More edgy/ trendy – the ‘tough-luxe’ look : biker (Kwik Sew 3764), or military (Kwik Sew 3466)

”ks3764” ”ks3466”

Try lace instead of leather for a biker jacket this season.
‘Military’ is emphasised in the November issues of UK Elle and In Style. Easy to use a double breasted jacket and add lots of gold buttons, including on the sleeves.

More arty-creative : asymmetric (Sewing Workshop Riviera), or oversized (Sewing Workshop Ikina).

”swriviera” ”swikina”

Janice at The Vivienne Files herself suggests a similar variety of jacket choices in a post on alternatives to the blazer.

(P.S. See photos of winter 2012-13 versions of these jacket styles from YouLookFab here.)

All these layering possibilities would look good with a tee and slim pants/ jeans/ skirt. No wonder those are considered ‘basics’ !
(See new wardrobe pattern for wovens, Butterick 5821 – hurrah – a wardrobe pattern with a top with sleeves !)


If, like me, you like a top with a collar (more flattering with my body shape and hair style), take a little more care with neckline co-ordination.
I think a mandarin/ band collar would look better with many of these jackets than a shirt collar.

If you like this season’s bow collar blouse, I think a blazer or other classic V-neck or slightly lowered round neck (examples in Simplicity 2154) looks best.

To go with the rest of the basic wardrobe in the colours Janice suggested, use tan, grey, navy, black, or your accent colour.
For jackets that will last for seasons, use solid fabrics.
For jackets that look ‘winter 2012’, use unusual tweed, brocade, brightly coloured fake fur, leather or leather trim.

Which layer is your style ?
Pick your favourite pattern with this style, and make it in casual, business, and special occasion colours or fabrics.
See Imogen Lamport at Inside-Out Style on changing the level of refinement of your clothes by changing the fabrics.
Even a hoodie can be multi-purpose ‘sports luxe’ if made in quality fabric.

Or alter your jacket using trims and embellishment.

There are a couple of on-line videos from Sewing with Nancy : ‘1 easy jacket pattern, 6 terrific looks’ : part 1, part 2. (The pattern used is Indygo Junction 885 Chinois coat, but many patterns are possible.) (book pattern DVD package)

Or, even more adventurous, Marcy Tilton’s Jackets CD.

Personally I’m happiest in a shirt-jacket, though definitely not a blue denim one. Only one pattern – hmm, that I would have difficulty with 😀 In winter I wear thicker fabrics and more ease for multiple layering. And my layers are where I like the interest of my outfits. There are luscious choices by named designers in the shirt section at Vogue. And over 2,000 vintage patterns on Etsy !

Or if you have many moods, make one of each jacket style 😀 and add some vests in a similar range of styles.
(Wear them with dresses and skirts too.)

What’s your pick from all the possibilities ?

Patterns and links available October 2012

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Explore posts in the same categories: co-ordinates, personal style

6 Comments on “Change style by changing jacket”

  1. Ruthie Says:

    I always wear a third layer, generally a tailored or soft jacket in the office, and a cardigan or light fleece at home. I get in a tangle if both items have a collar though, so blazers are worn with knit tops, but shirts with sweaters or cardigans.

  2. ejvc Says:

    Very much enjoying those Nancy Zieman videos, Lisanne! Thanks for pointing them out.

  3. Janice Riggs Says:

    I love how you build on my work to take it your own direction – this is EXACTLY what I hope for when I write my blog posts! Thank you so much, Janice

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