Elevating a Bargain Blazer

Yesterday – at Chico’s checking out pieces I thought might work for some clients – I spotted this cream/black/tan tweed jacket (one of my signature styles) marked down to a ridiculous $19.95. (I know it isn’t technically a blazer, but I loved the alliteration, sorry!)  I tried it in several sizes before settling on the Petite version.  But …

Somehow I felt like it was making me look overly wide, despite all the style details that should have been great for my shape.

  • The waistline hit at the right spot and curved in toward my hourglass shape.
  • Sleeve length was just right.
  • V-neck styling elongated my torso.
  • No hemline embellishment to add unwanted horizontal impact.
  • Contrast yoke emphasize shoulders.
  • Fringe trim pulls focus to the center front vertical opening.

Finally realized the problem was the pockets!  They were visually dominant due to the bias cut and contrast top band.  And they were placed low on the garment, riveting all the attention far away from my face and downward (shortening my figure).

Since they were just topstitched in place, I knew I could remedy the problem.  A $20 bill (my Chico Club discount covered the sales tax), the 10 -minute drive home, and 10 minutes with a seam ripper added up to the look on the right below.

I’ll add a statement pin on the left shoulder and pair it with black or charcoal skirt or pants for Springtime events — which hopefully will be safe in person/outdoors.

Here’s hoping your take-away is to look with a critical eye at fussy garment details that can be easily removed or changed to make the look more suitable for your shape, your personality or your lifestyle.  Who knows what treasures are lurking on clearance racks … or already in your closet.

PS. I couldn’t find this item on Chicos.com but there were several of them in the store.  I suspect it’s an late-arriving item, delayed by COVID-related supply chain disruption, that they are pushing out fast.  Check your local mall if it feels safe to venture out.

PSS.  Update:  I did find a great pin in my collection – here’s a close-up (left):

Then I tried the jacket with my off-white summer denim (center) for an up-leveled casual look.  Added a reptile print mini-scarf – a print mix that pushes my comfort zone, but I think we all need that nudge from time to time.

Noticed in the process that the pin has a loop on the back, so I can slip it onto a choker or short chain and wear it as a necklace (right).   Hope you are having just as much fun experimenting with your own wardrobe pieces!

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Carla on January 2, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Great illustration — I looked ahead at the photo and saw exactly what you saw….but felt it needed’ something.” Your idea for a statement pin will be perfect. Thanks for posting.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 2, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      I’ll go back and add a photo of the pin to this blog post.
      Also I tried that jacket with with my “white” really off-white) denim for up-leveled summer casual, subbing a little reptile print scarf for the pin.

  2. Terri on January 2, 2021 at 9:24 am

    Removing the pockets made a huge difference. The dress form looks like she lost 20 lbs and is about 10 years younger. thanks for the tip.

  3. Reanna on January 2, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Is Chicos paying its factory workers properly right now? A lot of companies bailed on contracts when covid hit, jilting some of the most vulnerable workers in the world without pay… those prices don’t come by magic.

  4. Reanna on January 2, 2021 at 10:00 am

    I don’t see Chico’s on this list, but I don’t know their parent company… https://www.workersrights.org/issues/covid-19/tracker/

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 2, 2021 at 4:24 pm

      I wasn’t aware of this list and appreciate your pointing it out, as well as your concern for the well-being of others. I also think this isn’t the best way to evaluate the ethics of various retailers. Retailers virtually all work with multiple factories across the globe – all on a contract basis, not as owners. Clearly the retailers can’t afford to continue bringing in merchandise faster than they can sell it in the current environment. If they did that, they would go out of business and their employees as well as the factory employees would all be out of work permanently.
      It was interesting that some of the most egregious offenders in terms of their factory oversight are on the list for NOT cancelling orders. Presumably because those are the retailers that specialize in ultra-cheap “fast fashion” which is becoming the best-selling category, especially in difficult financial times.
      A better metric would be the working conditions in the factories a retailer chooses to work with, assuming they are large enough to have any impact on the owners and policies anyway.
      Such a complicated issue. Garment production also has a huge negative impact on the global environment. Your comments prompt me to do another blog series on the topic. Watch for that in the next few days.

      • Marlette on January 3, 2021 at 4:06 pm

        Thank you for pointing out that garment production is a huge negative on the environment. It seems too many purchasers of the cheaper clothing buy only for the season and toss the last one. Quantity not quality has become the way their wardrobes have been “built”.

        My granddaughter, 18 and 22 buy most of their clothing at resale shops and have me do minor alterations (hemming, change button). One recently brought me a Ralph Lauren navy sheath dress to hem. Cost $10.00. I doubt it was ever worn. I’m so proud of them!

        • Nancy Nix Rice on January 3, 2021 at 5:19 pm

          Right on and good for your granddaughters! Resale is a great option. My favorite local resale store – which was just voted the best in the area – is about to launch an online option and I guarantee I’ll be writing more about that in coming weeks. With so many people clearing out their closets while they are stuck at home, both the quantity and quality of the donations they get have skyrocketed.

  5. Katie on January 2, 2021 at 11:07 am

    That jacket just looks so much better without those pockets! Much more slimming.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 2, 2021 at 1:00 pm

      And classier looking too, don’t you think? So often designers fall in love with the IDEA of a design detail like a bias pocket and overlook the negative impact it will have on the wearer. All those goofy “bottom-heavy” sleeve styles a couple of season ago fall into that category too. Blessedly this one was an easy fix.

  6. Joan Gapinski on January 2, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you so very much for this email. I have followed your book and have always been inspired and found your ideas very helpful. I am now retired and into an apartment with little closet space and not having enough to wear. I went into my closet and took out four of my favorite jackets and found many ways to put them together again. First I took out the pocket flaps and it really did make a difference a black plaid jacket. Regrouping the rest is my next project but I now see that I have much more choices than I thought. Thanks for your inspiration! – Joan

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 2, 2021 at 1:37 pm

      Glad you found it helpful. I’ve actually found a few new options myself based on reader comments on this batch of blog posts. Now you have the rest of this long weekend to play mix & match games – enjoy!

  7. Suzanne on January 3, 2021 at 12:39 am

    You are a true Visionary in my book! Only a wardrobe planner who sews would spot the solution to cleaning up that little jacket! Thanks for the inspiration Nancy!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 3, 2021 at 11:09 am

      Unfortunately few wardrobe consultants have the knowledge of construction and fit that comes from a lifetime of sewing and teaching other to sew. It is great fun to show a client how something in her current wardrobe can go from utterly unflattering to just wonderful with a few tweaks.

  8. Sue in MN on January 5, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    The removal of the patch pockets takes me all the way back to my first in-school sewing teacher in 1963 – her opinion of patch pockets was that they were ” only for housedresses and little children.” We were taught to do in-seam pockets in our first jumper, welt pockets in our very first jacket. I have never been happy with them except on the backs of jeans, and probably would have passed on the jacket – next time I’ll take a second look.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 5, 2021 at 8:05 pm

      I don’t really think of patch pockets as a universally bad thing. But now that you mention it. I cn think of several garments where I have made that change. Hmmmm.

      • Cassie on January 24, 2021 at 1:30 am

        I think it really does depend on the person. My younger sister loves patch pockets – but she has a much larger body, that can accommodate them easily, and a whimsical personal style that pairs well with them. She also wears overall shorts at age 30, and makes them look fabulous and not at all little-girlish! Now she’s hitting her stride with the cottage-core aesthetic, and that’s definitely working for her and patch pockets as well. Me, I’m much more into classic lines – so yes, patch pockets are only for house dresses and aprons (or historical dresses where the big statement patch pocket was a fashion of the time!).

        • Nancy Nix Rice on January 24, 2021 at 12:05 pm

          Like everything else, tastes vary but the principles are timeless.

  9. Aurelia Lobban on March 4, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for your article. I had a jacket that I loved the fabric & fit but didn’t wear. It was the pockets! I look forward to wearing it now.

  10. ANNE JEWELL on February 12, 2023 at 9:34 pm

    I purchased a red printed dirndle skirt at a liquidation store that had huge patch pockets with no print matching. Awful! But after a few minutes with my seam ripper and a good ironing, I had a great summer piece for two years’ wear! The trick is to see the garment as raw material and not give up on it. Removing those pockets made all the difference.–Anne

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 13, 2023 at 7:35 am

      Thanks for the reminder that up-cycling can often be a proce of subtraction rather than addition.

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