Despite its similarity in appearance, blazers are not a part of a suit. They are jackets that are designed to be worn with contrasting -- rather than matching -- trousers. This is the case for both men and women. They type of blazer you choose will vary, depending on the cut, style and length of your blazer, as well as the overall image you want to project.
Buttons and Breasting
The most common element to defining a blazer is its breasting. Blazers can be single, double or triple breasted. This refers to the number of button rows on a blazer -- a single-breasted blazer has one row of buttons, a double has two rows, and a triple-breasted blazer has three rows. The more breasting there is, the more bulk the blazer adds, which can be a deterrent to those who wish to streamline their shape. Some blazers will also contain built-in shoulder pads. These can help create a more defined silhouette, but it also adds size to the overall shape.
The Lowdown on Lapels
Lapels are another way in which blazers are subtly distinguished from one another. The lapel is the collar of the blazer, where the fabric folds back onto the front of the jacket. Lapels are either peak or notch lapels -- the latter is cut so it points upward at an angle instead of directly to the side. While single-breasted blazers can have either type of lapel, double-breasted blazers most commonly have peak lapels. The type of lapel you choose will depend on the amount of pizzazz you want for your blazer; the peak lapel is more understated and conventional.
Length and Definition
Determine the length of your blazer based on how it bests suits your body shape, not only by what might be the current fashion trend. Choose a blazer that cinches at the waist to give yourself a curvier appearance. Blazers that fall just above or below the hip minimize the hips; a blazer that falls below the hip also helps create a streamlined appearance if you are rounder near your midsection. Like with blazer length, the type of material will also affect the bulkiness of your final outfit. Thinner fabrics have less weight so they help create a softer look.
Niche Blazer Styles
Some blazers are designed to mimic specific clothing types, such as the tuxedo-style blazer. Offering satin lapels and a cinched cut, the tuxedo jacket can dress up a pair of jeans or can be used in a more formal setting as a jacket for a full-length dress for a fancy occasion. The opposite of the tuxedo blazer is the boyfriend style. With a loose, more relaxed fit, the boyfriend blazer can be thrown on top of any outfit. It adds sophistication to an ensemble without being overly formal, making it a great item to use when moving from work to a night out.