During further discussion with Jane about her comment, several additional questions were raised about length, style, and fabric. The one thing that she seemed sure about was color: black. As a result, my first suggestion to her was decidedly not black. Since Jane does not need this for her professional life and most of her dresses are black, I decided on this bright pop of coral to add freshness. Although I believe wholeheartedly in the power of a fabulous black blazer, pairing it over a black dress creates a more melancholy outfit than most occasions call for. This particular blazer appealed to me because of the beautiful crepe fabric, the tailored fit, and the easy-to-wear color.
Three ways Jane can wear it:
#1: Tuck a white scoopneck tee into jeans and wear with a red or metallic skinny belt. Add the blazer (with cuffed sleeves, of course!) and accessorize with a sparkly bracelet and a patterned scarf.
#2: Slip into your favorite LBD, add a metallic belt at the waist and wear the blazer open as an alternative to a cardigan or wrap.
#3: Pair with a burgundy skirt and a grey silk shell. Add a garnet necklace to play up the color-on-color pairing.
While I was searching the sale racks, I also found this black crepe wool blazer (which is no longer available online) which is closer to what Jane had in mind. The main reason I don't suggest buying a traditional suit jacket to wear over a dress for formal event is that it is hard to shake the business look. Fabric can make a huge difference; I have a soft spot for crepe blend fabrics because they are more associated with "dress up" than with work.
A decidedly non-work detail like this ribbon tie not only elevates the jacket, but also creates a small waist. Although not visible in this photo there is a horizontal seam underneath the ribbon that defines the waist and gives the jacket a tailored look with a flirty edge. Be aware of where seams are hitting you; a horizontal seam should be pretty close to your natural waist. If not, try Petite or Tall sizes or shop around at other stores until you find a clothing line that uses torso measurements similar to your own.
Generally shorter jackets are easier to transition into evening than the longer, "boyfriend" style pieces, however, as shown by the coral blazer, the sum is more important than all of the parts so don't be afraid to try something out of the box!