Like their male counterparts, women's suit blazers have their origins in the sports clubs of the nineteenth century. Unlike a three or two-piece suit which has the same material for the jacket and the trousers, or skirt where women's apparel is concerned, womens suit blazers are made from a separate material, often in a different colour from the rest of the outfit. This look originated in rowing clubs, where jackets were worn of the same colour so that everyone could tell which club a person happened to belong to. It is in these clubs, specifically those around Cambridge and London, where the term blazer began to be used in place of the more commonplace jacket. Soon the habit of rowing club blazers began to be used by cricket clubs, rugby clubs and even by traders on the stock exchange. Of course, these sorts of sports jackets are often garish in their design and a million miles away from the chic sort of women's suit blazers that you find today. Nonetheless, there are plenty of design connections that go back to the root of blazer fashion.
Although it is fair to say that womens suit blazers have evolved a long way since they began in the 1800s, there are plenty of things that still make a blazer a blazer. Firstly, it is distinguished from other sorts of jacket by being light and having little functionality as an outer garment. Designed to be smart in appearance, a women's suit blazer will often not fare very well in the rain and the material chosen will usually be for indoor use only. Most women's suit blazers have shoulder pads to create a smart and businesslike look. Although some blazers make a feature of having no lapels at the front, by far the majority of womens suit blazers sport them.
Like most jackets, a blazer will be worn over the top of a blouse or shirt and they can usually be done up at the front, if wanted, with the addition of one, two, or three buttons. Sometimes the cuffs of womens suit blazers have matching buttons, but these are usually sewn on for aesthetic reasons and are not functional in any way. A blazer is usually lined on the inside with a soft or sheer material and most blazers sport at least one pocket on the inside. The most common configuration for pockets on the outer part of the garment is one over the left breast and two at either sides. However, plenty of women's suit blazers only have flaps and no real pockets at all. Finally, many women's suit blazers have a pinched waist and flare out over the hips, something that marks them out from men's versions. It is this design detail makes them much more flattering to the female figure.
Most women are used to the smart appearance afforded by a suit blazer because they have worn such garments during their school days. Indeed, most senior schools in the country require children of both sexes to wear blazers as a part of their uniform. Suit blazers for women tend to be similar in design, but can often be made from more feminine, lighter materials which do not need to be as robust as those worn by schoolgirls.
One of the latest design trends for womens suit blazers is to have them create a formal and semi-formal look at the same time. This sort of design appeals because it means that blazer can be worn at the office, during the day, but can easily be adapted to evening wear. Many women's suit blazers therefore have turned down cuffs which reveals the inner lining, perhaps covered in a bright colour or floral design which contrasts with the plainer and more businesslike appearance of the blazer's outer material. In many cases, the folded down cuffs look is aped by the use of similar material for the blazer's lapels.
At the back of the blazer, sometimes vents are added for additional comfort when the garment is worn seated. Often, a single vent at the middle of the back, extending upwards from the hem, is included, however twin vents are not uncommon either. Lastly, although most blazers have lapels or a collar of some description, some women's suit blazers have nothing of the sort and the jacket's forward-facing design comes to a neat end without the extra folded-over material of a lapel. In such cases, a little piping is sometimes added, harking back to the original blazers of the rowing clubs.