Making a vintage blazer fit

Sometimes you see something shoved onto a rail in Paperbag Princess on K Road in Auckland and you cross your fingers very tight that it will fit you.   This is one of those somethings – I could tell from the crumpled bit of sleeve poking out that it was going to be an awesome style, so the “only” issues were going to be fit and damage.

Damage was minimal (a missing button on one sleeve, and one small moth hole), and in Wellington you can always use another wool blazer, so fit was the deciding factor.  This blazer, made as it was in the 1980s for another woman, did not fit me as a blazer from 2017 would.  And this, friendly readers, is where the trickery comes into play.

I am, shall we say, of childlike proportions.  The only difference between the body I have now and the body I had at 15 is that I am considerably less toned nowadays.  Also, I might actually be slightly shorter now (which does not bode well, at this rate I’ll be 4 foot high by the time I’m 50).  That means that oversized anything runs the very real risk of making me look like a six year old dressed up in my Mum’s clothes for a bit of a laugh.  On the other hand, I’m an A+ fan of buying weird things second hand and having a go at wearing them.  So, I tried to make this work.

Step one was to rip out the shoulder pads.  Now, I didn’t do any research before I set to ripping, and you should not follow my example because you could end up destroying something with actual value.  I just carefully unpicked the lining and then neatly clipped out the shoulder pads from the seam in the shoulder of the jacket.  That way, the shoulder can collapse a little and looks more “casual, louche” and less “Dynasty, stockbroker”.  It does ruin the structure of the jacket so you are committed to only ever wearing it in a low-key way.

Then I steamed the entire jacket.  It was rumpled and the steam helps the shoulder to remould to its new, unpadded shape.  Also, it makes me feel like the jacket has a little less disgustingness potential.  If you are less relaxed about the possibility of getting a strange 1980s rash from old clothes, may I recommend to you that you have these things drycleaned. 

Having done some destruction and with the laundry out of the way, it was time to get to the good bit: putting on a bunch of random combinations and seeing what came out okay.

My first instinct was skinny jeans and high heels, per the “volume on top” style of dressing, and similar to how I wore a man’s jacket in this post.  It looked okay.  I could wear it like that.  But I was in the mood for jazziness, and had forgotten about the meeting I’d set up with a very serious barrister, so I decided to go for a more voluminous look.  

Once I’d settled on volume, this pair of culottes that look like a skirt were the obvious go-to.  So swishy!  We all know, from previous blog posts, that my two go-to looks are “Mrs Frizzell from the Magic School Bus” or “Italian Mafia widow”.  Had I worn a black top under this blazer, I could have possibly powered through to “Italian Mafia widow goes on her holidays”, but it was much easier to wear a tshirt that says “CIAO” on it and just go for it.  What “it” is, I leave up to you.   Did I mention the Very Serious Meeting I had?

Apparently, women loved a wide sleeve in earlier eras, which is very dating on a jacket.  My best trick for dealing with that (and my short arms) is to use a couple of those stretchy bands your Mum almost certainly owned once upon a time.  I just push the sleeves into themselves first, so the bands are hidden under a fold of fabric, then push them up Magnum PI-style.  I bought mine at a $2 shop long long ago.  You’re not going to win the Coolest Person Alive prize for owning these, but if you are diminutive, or just like wearing your sleeves pushed up nonchalantly, they’re bloody handy.

Blazer from Paperbag Princess in Auckland.  Culottes are from a previous Kowtow season, these look good though.  Shoes from Wittner AND NOW ON SALE!!!!!!!!  Tight from Glassons - these have a smaller net in the foot area which I just pull forward and tuck under my toes.  Tshirt is from Seed and is also on sale.  Belt from Veronika Maine and also also on sale (this is getting ridiculous).