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The Unexpected Hero of My Wardrobe: The Oversized Blazer

July 16, 2016

The first R-rated movie I ever saw was Top Gun—I was two and a half. My parents took a laissez-faire approach to such matters, and my older brothers were responsible for most of my early cultural education. I promptly memorized the commanding officer character’s most profane monologue, and repeated it as often as possible, scandalizing many unsuspecting adults along the way. This is all to say, Top Gun was a formative film in my life, and its female lead, Charlie, was my first “style icon.” With her fluffy hair, oversized blazers, and no-bullshit attitude, she gave me my first taste of what a powerful woman looked and sounded like.

From there, I gravitated towards other power-shouldered ‘80s heroines (Diane Keaton in Baby Boom, Helen Slater in The Secret of My Success). To this day, there’s just something about a woman in a big, slouchy blazer that makes me think, “Yes. She knows what she’s talking about.”

oversized blazer

The brilliance of the oversized jacket, as exhibited by Kelly McGillis as Charlie in Top Gun (top) and Helen Slater as Christy in The Secret of My Success (bottom).

In the ‘90s, power shoulders gave way to a subtler silhouette, and we entered the era of clean-lined Calvin Klein and DKNY. Often oversized, but not as… voluminous. I was seven in 1990 and thus ill-positioned to take advantage of the era’s businesswear, but that’s the sweet spot (’90-’93) I’ve been retroactively chasing ever since. I’d almost given up when I caught wind of a new jacket that Miyako was developing. The word on the street was that it was “clean, minimalist, oversized, but not bulky.” It was called the Goodall, and the minute I tried it on, I was hooked.

Here it was—the blazer I’d been seeking my entire adult life. Cool, slouchy, versatile. A piece that says, “I care, but not really.” The epitome of ‘90s nonchalance, reincarnated 20 years after its heyday. The look is a bit informal for say, women in law or finance, but I can envision it being worn by women in media, tech, advertising, and any number of creative fields.

If you’ve never delved into oversized pieces before, they can be disorienting. First and foremost, they are meant to add volume to your silhouette, which can seem counterintuitive in a world that generally tells women to be as diminutive as possible—but I’ll save that rant for another post. The point is: Taking up space (both literal and figurative) is cool, and oversized styles can look incredibly chic and powerful. The trick is: You have to balance them out with more form-fitting pieces, or else you’ll end up looking like a potato. An oversized blazer calls for a slim pant or a form-fitting pencil skirt. Conversely, a wide-leg pant calls for a fitted, tailored top. It’s all about balancing and experimenting with proportion—an excellent way to shake up your look without overhauling your wardrobe.

oversized blazer

In addition to feeding my nostalgic yearnings (which is definitely why I bought it), the Goodall also happens to be a practicality play. It’s wrinkle-resistant and machine-washable (yep, a machine-washable blazer), so I wear it constantly: at work, on a plane, out to dinner, and for general scampering about town.

oversized blazer

I’ll leave it to your discretion whether I am actually pulling it off, but I will say, I feel in-charge in this jacket, and I plan to wear it until it disintegrates.

Shop the Goodall here, or check out the Dietrich for a similar (but more fitted) look.

Photos by Frances F. Denny

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Tory Hoen is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. She spent five years as the Creative Director of Brand at MM.LaFleur (where she founded The M Dash!) and has written for New York Magazine, Fortune, Bon Appétit, and Condé Nast Traveler. She loves doughnuts and inter-species friendships. Read more of Tory's posts.

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