All the magazines have been telling me since last fall that shoulder pads are in style again.
I'm not so sure about that. As if the brief reemergence of the fanny pack wasn't bad enough, now we're looking back to a time of Brenda Walsh and Denise Huxtable and shoving chicken-cutlet-like wads into every jacket you own.
The supposed return of shoulder pads might just be a reaction to the ultra-feminine styles that have run rampant the past few years. Last spring, Balenciaga and Maison Martin Margiela sent wide, stiff looks down the runway—but, as time has proven, it's a look that should stay in the sketchpads of designers past.
There's a solution to all this, though: the blazer. While blazers experienced a return around 2003, when guys and gals paired them with "vintage" tees and skinny jeans, this year's blazer isn't at all like the cutesy, cropped shrug-like jackets that ate every teenager and store in the mall alive. This new blazer is larger. Longer. Some are oversized. Some resemble tuxedo jackets.
They're the perfect pieces of outerwear for our placid autumns and cool summer nights. Spring runways prominently featured them, as have all the fall shows. Stella McCartney, 3.1 Philip Lim and Alexander Wang have their own versions in their current lines, but something that's bound to be just a teeny blip on the radar warrants something much more affordable. While I've yet to spot knock-offs at Forever 21, Topshop.com has an abundance of both tux jackets and oversize blazers—just watch out for that overseas S&H.
But my favorite and most reasonably priced by far has got to be the long sport jacket from Built by Wendy. The cotton-and-linen coat (available in black and white), pictured here, features a lovely upturned collar with sleeves that hit just below the elbows, falling under the popular oversized-blazer category while carefully maintaining a timeless, classy vibe. Best of all,it's currently in stores and on BuiltByWendy.com for $146.
Founded in 1991 by Wendy Mullin, Built by Wendy has become a staple must-see boutique and personal top-five favorite while shopping in New York and Los Angeles. The label first gained popularity through custom-made guitar straps that were photographed on everyone from (former) Orange County gal Gwen Stefani to everybody in Sonic Youth. Soon after, Mullin drew attention with her charming Americana designs that oozed a DIY mentality. Season after season, Built by Wendy never fails to impress, with madras dresses, button-up blouses and some of the best non-skinny jeans you can find for around $135. The fit is key with BbW apparel: never too tight, never too trendy, always flattering.