Borrowed from the boys - Zara navy wool blazer + Manolo bows

navy wool blazer2
Zara boys jacket sz 11-12 (altered, see below), thrifted skirt, DIY pocket square borrowed from Nick
Manolo Blahnik pumps (similar), Talbots navy tights (similar for under $7), H&M scarf + gloves

When shopping, I tend to poke around in the girls department, but rarely if ever venture into the boys. Little girls' stuff is already iffy-proportioned for grown women, so I imagine boys clothing to be even further "off." Not to mention the effort of having to fabricate a "nephew" or "brother" that you're shopping for when clingy sales associates keep asking questions. However, after Kelly's post on shopping for boys blazers and her success with getting one tailored beautifully (see before and after), my eyes were opened up to this world of little jackets with slightly longer lengths and chest slots for fun pocket squares.

Coach court bag (similar on eBay, current year's version) and vintage earrings (similar on eBay)
navy wool blazer
It would only make sense that I was with the boys blazermaster herself when I came across this heavier one (marketed as a jacket) in Zara's boys department. It had endured rounds upon rounds of markdowns, and was 75% off at $19.90. I was skeptical about the wool blend quality but Kelly wasted no time in grabbing a firm fistful of the material. She released it after a few moments, and commented on how the negligible creasing left behind indicated that it was fair quality for wool.

I tried on size 11-12 and really liked the warmth, the classic true navy color, the fit of the shoulders, and the casual longer length (perfect for wearing with skinny bottoms or mini skirts). However, the torso and sleeves needed to be re-shaped for a woman's figure. Work has had me so pressed for free time that I didn't want to add to the now daunting alterations pile (and had little faith in my DIY skills) ...but eventually gave in to the encouragement of my trusty shopping companions (had the pleasure of Wendy visiting too!).

After further evaluation in front of my mirror at home, I decided to:
1) Slim sleeves slightly (couldn't slim too much because I wasn't changing the armholes)
2) Shorten sleeves slightly
3) Take-in along the back seams to add shape to the torso

I followed the steps in this old tutorial for alterations 1 & 2, and did the following for 3:
 
navy wool blazer5
Using fabric chalk, I marked where I would like the torso of this blazer to taper in the most (around my lower waist). I then opened up the lining of the blazer and transferred my markings to the inside of the wool material.
navy wool blazer6 I drew out the new seams with chalk, keeping them smoothly curved and nipping in the most where I had marked the lower waistline. I made sure not to nip in too much to keep consistent with the "casual" style, but just enough so that it'd be evident there's a female under the garment. Please note; the photo below shows markings on the exterior of the jacket for demonstrative purposes only - the chalk markings and stitches are taking place on the inside of the jacket, behind the lining:
navy wool blazer4

End result - boxy cut replaced by gentle curvature: 
navy wool blazer1
And to balance out the boyishness of this jacket, I added a dose of big bows for good measure.
navy wool blazer3
On a related kids clothing note, I popped into Gap today and tried on some navy and white overload from the girls section (see my Instagram). The sweaters were too wide/boxy, but their canvas dot shorts were sturdy quality and $17 with code SPRINGAIR. I am trying sz 12 reg and it was a snug fit, so someone my size could probably factor in dryer shrinkage and go up to 14 (or 12 plus? Not sure how plus compares to regular). As with most kids' bottoms, I would not recommend these for anyone with curves in the hips or bum. The dot skirt with bow was cute in theory, but in my opinion too childish for someone my age. I am trying size 10/L because 12/XL wasn't available, and have the kiddy tulle part folded up (it's attached to the lining and should be easily removable). The elastic waist fit fine, but the short length combined with poofiness makes it prime for a windy day wardrobe malfunction.

Readers - Have you ever shopped in the boys or mens department? I'd love to hear about your finds and experiences!

70 comments:

  1. Love your site! May I ask, do you do your alterations by hand or did you use a sewing machine? Very inspirational and I'll give it a try!

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    1. Thank you! I use a Brother sewing machine for most alterations.

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  2. Although the weather is getting warmer, I liked it a lot every time when you are putting on an outfit with the cooler colors! You look very elegant in them! Totally should add "darker colors" to your old post of "How to look older". :)

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  3. I have often bought clothes from Zara in the boys department. I take a 11-12 size. I bought sweaters a few months ago and today I bought a t-shirt. Great value.

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  4. I bought a belt once from the boy's department (just had to add a few belt holes) but I'm not talented enough to do all these alterations on actual clothing :) Nice job tailoring the blazer!
    FashionEdible Blog

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  5. Such a great idea shopping in the boys' department! If one is savvy with DIY alterations, then this is a fabulous idea. However, for someone like me though, who don't own a sewing machine or know how to do self alterations, this wouldn't work out too well. when I take things to a tailor, things I bought on clearance end up costing even more than what the items should be worth due to the cost of alterations a times. Anyways, I love how you styled this outfit!

    xoxo,
    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

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  6. gorgeous, I love the winter colors!

    www.nateandmaryclaire.blogspot.com

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  7. I have shopped at both the boys and the men's department. I shopped at the boys department when I younger (and in my sporty phase) and managed to find lots of sports clothing that fit for less. I liked the looser fit for those and having a boyish figure helps on that front. ;) As for the men's department, I've only bought dress shirts in XS by far for a boyfriend look.

    You're always such an inspiration for alterations although I can't sew for the life of me!

    fauxionista.com

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  8. Hi Jean!

    i have a thrifted blazer that is ever so slightly wide on the shoulders. Its not so noticeable, but it bothers me when I look in the mirror. Ther fit is otherwise perfect except for the width of the shoulders.

    It does have light shoulder padding. would taking out the should pads make the shoulders fit better? or worse???

    my logic is - taking out the shoulder pads would reduce bulk on the shoulders.
    but on the other side- taking them out can leave extra space at the shoulders??

    what would you do??



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    1. hi ya! I would also like to know your views on shoulderpad issues... by the way you look fantastic in this boys blazer and it works brilliantly with bag and shoes. I am nearly 5.7 and I ve bought things from boys sportsware lines as I like the youthful cut and fit. (and the price) I ve never thought of trying a blazer though - I will now! thank you!

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    2. I have taken shoulder pads out of wider-shouldered blazers before, and it left me with the exact problem you mention of having just empty space at the shoulders and then the top of the sleeves do not hang right. I ended up trying to put them back in and stitching the blazer back up. So based on my experience, taking out the pads is unfortunately not a solution for too-wide shoulders. It's a toughie, but I think alterations are the only real solution and unfortunately those can be costly!

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  9. wow....just seeing that seam opened up like that causes me to panic! oh how i wish i could sew! you did a great job!

    xoxo, jenn
    the stylish housewife

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  10. Jean, I think you're amazing and you're one of my favorite bloggers to follow... but, (and I say this as gently and kindly as possible) perhaps your last photo requires some cropping........ look closely? Eeep...

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    1. Haha, thank you for your considerate comment : ) I'm not sure if I am seeing what you're pointing out, but please let me know if I'm missing something glaring! I had cropped out the crotch/tush area which was a bit further to the right of the photo, so rest assured what you may be seeing is merely thighs and not something indecent.

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  11. I am mom to an almost 9-year-old boy who wears a size 10/12 or Large. I have been known to borrow a button down shirt from him (the sleeves are sometimes a bit short, but I can roll them). The fit on his blazers is too boxy for for me (and obviously, I cannot alter them to fit, since he needs to wear them)...he also has two little brothers to get his hand-me-downs, so by the time they are outgrown by my kids, they will either be worn out or outdated. In another couple of years, I will probably be able to steal his jeans to wear as "boyfriend" style (right now his pants are too short for me, and don't fit quite right through the hips and tush). My husband has already teased me about the "boyfriend" jeans I do have, telling me my "boyfriend" must be about 12 years old.

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    1. Looking forward to this side "perk" when I have kids as well!

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  12. Hi Jean,
    Love the blog-great idea with the menswear look from the boys section. I am quite a bit smaller than you are at 4' 9" and a little less than 80 pounds. Do you think this trick would work for me too? Women's clothing is not made to fit me so I often find myself in the kids section and this seems like a great alternative to girls section clothing that I alter.
    Kayla

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    1. Kelly of Alterations Needed is quite a bit smaller than me as well and she has fared well with boys' clothing after finding a trusty tailor. Good luck!

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  13. Your DIY alterations are amazing! I just ordered a dress form, so I'm hoping to tailor some of my wardrobe as well.

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  14. Hi Jean! I love your alteration and was wondering if you'd do a post on basic sewing tools for beginners and where to find them (or have I missed a previous post? I'm fairly new here :) ).

    I recently tried on a school blazer and grey swing coat at Zara girls here in Sydney. Even with my narrow shoulders, I was surprised that they needed no alteration (to my undiscerning eyes anyway). But the RRP being at AU $67 and $86 respectively, I'd have to wait for the next sale!

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    1. Hi Steffi - I haven't done such a post but I really encourage those who are interested to look for local sewing classes. Some are run by private instructors and some are offered at fabric/craft stores, but I personally feel that's the best way to learn! I took classes myself as a child and could've never figured things out otherwise.

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  15. Jean, I just had to leave a comment and say that your talent never ceases to astound me! When I met Kelly in New York last month, I was telling her how amazing I thought you were at sewing and altering your own clothes. :)

    Also, your hair is looking lovely!

    xo
    Jen

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  16. Hi Jean,
    Along with your amazing outfits, you have the most gorgeous hair! It's so thick and pretty! What shampoo do you use? Any hair advice? Mine is pretty thin! Thanks (:

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    1. Hi there - I use whatever is on sale (usually Pantene for normal hair). Hair textures vary so much from person to person and mine is more on the coarser and thick side, which I find hard to tame : / (but thank you for your compliment!)

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  17. I just love the whole outfit, especially the shoes ^^

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  18. Love this outfit,perfect for work on a chilly day. great shoes as well.

    xo
    http://pinksole.com

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  19. those pumps are stunning!! i typically only online shop and i dont browse the boys/ mens unless its for baggy sweats! for some reason their versions are usually thicker than the womens

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  20. great colors! :*

    http://landing-in-fashion.blogspot.com/

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  21. I love this look on you -- and I love those adorable gloves too, so pretty! xo

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com/

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  22. Hi jean! I've been searching high and low for heels in that color. What's the full name of those shoes? Love your outfit, alterations and espciecally those stockings!

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    1. Hi there - They are called the Lisane Suede Bow pumps; got them from Nordstrom during their end-of-season clearance last month.

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  23. I love your earrings! I shop in men's department all the time, I shop for knitwear, t-shirts, basic hoodies, beanies and plaid shirts. :)

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  24. Hi Jean! Just recently discovered your blog and refer to it daily when getting dressed for work! Do you have any tips or opinions on "casual friday" dressing? I find it quite difficult to maintain a polished and put-together look while keeping it casual and relaxed. I find that people at work give me strange looks when I look "over-dressed" on Fridays, like I'm too serious or fancy for casual dress haha. Perhaps you could dedicate a blog post on these tips as I'm sure there are many others who would find it helpful. Thanks so much :)

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    1. hi Mirachelle - For casual Fridays I love just simple dark denim plus a blouse and blazer. If black or grey suiting is too formal for your casual Fridays, I like ponte, striped, or textured (like tweed) blazers that are a little more casual. I also like A-lined or poofier skirts + a tucked-in sweater or blouse that may be a little too informal for everyday businesswear, but are fun for casual work days.

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  25. I love this outfit on you! I have been a reader of your blog for the past year and a half and I must say I am quite sad that you do not post entries as frequent as before. However everything you do post is amazing! Please dont stop!

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    1. Thank you for being a longtime reader and for sticking around despite the sparse posts! Your encouraging words mean a lot to me. I would love to blog more but it has fallen behind due to work and community commitments...really hope to post a little more during summer : )

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  26. fantastic work you did.. looks great on you

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  27. I've actually done this once or twice! First, I always buy boy's t-shirts when I'm looking for shirts for my favorite sports teams. They are cheaper than the adult sizes, and as long as they are left to air-dry, they don't shrink to belly shirts :).

    I also have a nice argyle sweater from the boys section at H&M. It was a green/blue combo that I couldn't find in the women's section. Although I'm not petite I have a relatively short torso and a pretty flat chest so it fit without needing any alterations!

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  28. Thank you for the tutorial! I'm in the process of doing the same to a vintage wool jacket. Can't wait to see the results. You did a great job.

    Corporate Catwalk

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  29. I love checking out the men's department for basics and accessories! H&M especially. I purchased a cobalt blue backpack that I take to work everyday, as well as a nice navy and white striped scarf that's thicker and sturdier than ones from the women's department. They also seem to have good knit basics like crew-neck sweatshirts, cardigans and v-neck sweaters. Definitely more of the slouchy vibe that's been in this year, but I'll take it!

    -Erin-
    OneTwoSummer

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  30. Loving that blazer! Such a steal!!! Loving your navy tights!

    xx
    Giovanna
    www.HeyLoveBlog.com

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  31. I love the outfit, what a difference tailoring makes!

    -michelle
    www.preppyboho.com

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  32. Gosh altering a blazer is quite a task! But you did a wonderful job! Ive never tried looking at boys stuff but looks like I will not forget them now :)

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  33. Totally jealous of your skills. You are such an everything woman.

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  34. You've got some sewing skillz! I like boys' white under-t-shirts (sooo versatile) but I don't wear any boys/mens button up clothes because the buttons are always sewn on the right hand side whereas for ladies they are always along the left.

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  35. great DIY! & excellent pairing!
    I've recently purchased a few comfy items from the boys' section @ Zara, but I would never think to try a blazer! good job turning it into your size!

    http://shortandsweetjoy.blogspot.com

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  36. I like your outfit and your tailoring skills amaze me but I hate the shoes. They're hideous and don't seem very versatile. Looks like you're trying too hard to make them work with your outfit(s). A major rip off since they're Blahniks.

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  38. Absolutely love your blog and your fashion sense. Was just talking about a co-worker about how reading your posts makes me want to learn how to sew and do alterations. Great job!

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  39. Great outfit...I'm definitely going to have to check out boys blazers! I find skirts/jackets/cardigans in the girls section at Target/Gap Kids all the time!

    xoxo,
    Andrea

    www.andreaeveryday.com

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  40. Wow! You're so talented with your alterations. Is this something you taught yourself? I'd love to do my own alterations but I don't know where to start! The only thing I can really do is shorten pants. =/

    Maggie
    lovestylehappiness.blogspot.com

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  41. You always look so classy! Love that bag. Hoping to score one myself ;)

    Kelly
    kellyinthecity.com

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  42. Oooh! I ordered those exact same Manolo bow pumps a couple months ago, but they sadly didn't fit, and they were out of the size I needed. They are so gorgeous!
    -Ashley (formerly diary of a shopper :)

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  43. Hi Jean! The blazer is super cute on you! A question about the DIY back seam alterations: did you rip out the old seam and press the new seam open, or did you leave the old seam there?

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  44. I actually shop the little kids department all the time. Great selection and a lot cheaper than per say the adult version. When it comes to gap I get a kids 14 or XXL. Fits like getting a xs or small. The blazer looks great on you.

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  45. Random question, how long does it take for ASOS shipments to get to you, usually? The tracking info they sent isn't updating and I'm only an hour's drive from the site of origin so I'm hoping only a few days instead of the 6 on the website! Thanks!

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  46. Just for the fun of it, I think I'll try out childrens' sizes.
    Though they will probably come halfway up my torso...

    Manon
    http://fromtokyotoparis.wordpress.com/

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  47. I love your color choices in this post. So well put together! Glad to see a fellow petite's fab style choices!

    www.kholaskloset.blogspot.com

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  48. The leather gloves not only kept you warm but also added such a cute touch to the outfit. Too bad gloves are hardly ever necessary in Sydney :(

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  49. Jean, you make winter in Boston look easy. I broke out the same scarf last weekend, resulting in a bizarre layering effect/outfit/disaster that shall never make it on the site. I am so tired of pants, I attempted to go euro with a dress over jeans. Less edgy, more frumpy;) Dressing for two, not as easy as it seems. XOXO

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  50. i love this! i totally have ventured into the little boys section, but i imagine tailoring would give much better results.
    love the bow heels!

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  52. Love the coach bag! I've been collecting vintage coach for a couple years now! I'm very specific though when I'm searching for them. I love quality and make sure that the vintage coach are "Made in the USA"....they tend to be better made and longer lasting.

    -Ileana
    www.ileanamarcel.com
    OC style blogger

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  53. I love shopping in the kids department from time to time. Sometimes it even fits me better than women's! Although my husband teases me I'm sure he's not too displeased when it is about 20-30% cheaper.

    angela

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  54. Hi Jean!

    I'm trying to do a similar alteration on a blazer from Forever 21 (which I got for four dollars, go me!), but I can't quite figure out how you did the sleeves...Did you just turn them inside out and and then cut the lining and resew like you did on the torso?

    Thank you!

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