The hottest look on Instagram is no longer a bra-digan (sorry, Katie Holmes); it is a blazer. That’s right – a sensible, grownup, seasonally appropriate and useful jacket. Strange, but true.
There is a new breed of style selfie getting major likes. The setting will be an urban street scene: photogenic, but not glamorous. Waiting for the lights to change to cross a cobbled street, say, rather than in a fancy hotel room. The props and pose will be carefully chosen to semaphore busyness and curated realness: a reusable coffee cup or possibly an umbrella in one hand; the other hand oh-so-casually in a pocket.
The centrepiece of the outfit will be a blazer, the new uniform of the fashion influencer. Slung over a dress or layered over a cosy sweater, a blazer – a suit jacket in old money – is what oversized blackout shades once were, and what the Christian Louboutin red-soled pump was before that. It is a badge of honour, a membership card of the high-profile fashion tribe who used to be found squished next to each other in the catwalk front row and who now jostle for position at the top of your algorithm-curated social media feed.
The new visibility of the blazer speaks volumes about how Instagram’s role in style has changed. A few years ago, the influencers with the most followers were daring, free-spirited dressers whose selfies were good for light relief. They provided a colourful, escapist fashion reel to scroll through on the train home. But as influence has become big business, so influencers have become businesslike. In the top tier, fashion influencers can command a fee of £10,000 for an agreed “campaign” of two or three posts. The type of ambitious, confident young person who 30 years ago might have set his or her sights on investment banking as a way to get rich young might now set out to be an influencer instead. It is a new intake, a new mindset – and a new look.
But please don’t let that put you off. Despite the cold-hearted backstory, the Instablazer is a life-enhancing fashion trend that should be welcomed with open arms. It is extremely rare that the most alpha piece of fashion you can buy is so very easy to wear. The bug-eyed shades were tricky to pull off in an office or in a restaurant; those Louboutins were treacherous to walk in anywhere. A blazer, on the other hand, can be worn work or weekend with trousers, with a dress, with a skirt, with leggings – in other words, with the clothes you already own.To get yourself an Instablazer, you take a simple suit jacket, make sure it is slightly oversized (or just broad at the shoulder) and wear it with a smidge of attitude. Tamu McPherson, a Jamaica-born, Milan-based blogger, should be on your mood board here: find her on Instagram (@alltheprettybirdsofficial). The fashion influencer Camille Charrière posted blazer-wearing selfies two days running over the Christmas break. In the first, she wore a checked blazer with blue jeans, cowboy boots, a white shirt and a scrunchie, tagging the Princess Diana fan feed @ladydirevengelooks in the caption. The next day, she wore a tailored black blazer as an evening look, with a short skirt and sheer tights.
One of the daytime incarnations of the Instablazer can be tongue-in-cheek Sloane Ranger, as seen on Charrière. But it is also to be found (on social media and in real life) worn over a printed mid-length dress or a feminist slogan T-shirt that has been tucked into a long-ish skirt. This is perhaps the most radical repositioning of the blazer: that it is being worn by women who work in publishing or the art world, women who enjoy outdoor swimming, women who belong to a book club. A decade ago, such women would have considered a blazer light years away from what they were not yet calling their personal brand. They would have seen the blazer as smart in an airless, institutionalised way that felt entirely alien. But, in 2020, worn with a tiered dark-floral skirt, loosely waved hair and mismatched earrings, the blazer adds immediate polish, a jazzy front-of-house finishing touch. In the age of wearing flat shoes to work, a sharp-shouldered blazer brings the stature we once got from our spike heels.
After dark, the blazer is at the centre of a slowburn eveningwear revolution that is putting tailoring, rather than the party dress, centre stage. Kylie Minogue took the look to the British Fashion awards with a Christopher Kane diamante-trim tuxedo blazer, while the first smash-hit look of the new year’s red-carpet season was Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Ralph & Russo evening trousersuit, which is being auctioned on eBay to raise money for the bushfire relief effort in Australia.
If you don’t think of yourself as blazer material, that makes you the perfect candidate for one. A blazer looks great worn in surprising combinations – over a chunky rollneck sweater and high-waisted jeans, for instance. If you have a pleated skirt that has started to feel a bit basic, a blazer will sharpen it up. High-flying fashionistas looking for advanced modifications will want to experiment with wearing the blazer with a shirt and black leggings for the ultimate power-athleisure update.
Being a classic piece, the blazer is ideal for secondhand sourcing. Unlike knitwear or delicate dresses, this is a sturdy piece, so you should be able to find preloved gems that still look smart. Vestiaire Collective, for instance – where designer pieces are authenticated and checked for condition – has a good selection of Jaeger blazers for about £40. & Other Stories’ bestselling oversized wool-blend blazer – almost as ubiquitous in the first weeks of 2020 as that Zara dress – is back in stock in all colours except beige and navy.
Speaking of Zara – final proof, if it were needed, that the blazer is now a bona fide fashion trend can be found on that website’s drop-down menu, where the blazer gets its own category. Leopard, for wearing with stonewashed jeans and a vest? Yours for £49.99. Camel with gold buttons, £89.99, to be worn with a messy ponytail and loose leather trousers? Check. The coolest thing to wear right now is also the easiest, most practical one. In 2020, a blazer is essential. (No selfie required.)