Sometimes blazers and jackets are necessary. Sometimes they’re just layering pieces that add interest to an outfit. Regardless of why you’re wearing them, you’ll want them to look great on. So what is it you need to know when purchasing? Which style suits your shoulders best.

Let’s start with the basics – shoulder types. I’ve found that most shoulders fall into 3 categories (although there are always variations) – Narrow, Regular and Broad. Within these categories can fall a situation where someone’s shoulders are also Sloped, meaning they slope down at the ends versus straight across.

Some jackets and blazers will look better on some shoulders than others. The key lies in the cut and style at the shoulders.

Narrow or Sloped Shoulders

If you have Narrow or Sloped Shoulders, you’ll want to wear jackets or blazers that have structured or padded shoulders. Much like the Samuel Blazer from Aritzia (seen below). 

This allows the jacket to mask the narrowness and sloping of the shoulder and make you appear more visually balanced. Keep in mind that the jacket’s shoulder seam should sit at the edge of your shoulder, not past it. If it sits too far past, it will look too big.

Broad Shoulders

If you have Broad Shoulders, you’ll want to wear jackets or blazers that have softer shoulders without any padding, much like Aritizia’s Chevalier Jacket (see below). You can even wear those with dropped shoulders, much like Aritzia’s Alyona Jacket (below the Chevalier).

The reason why you want to avoid structured or padded shoulders is that they would make your shoulders appear even wider than they really are and your goal is to soften them slightly.

Regular Shoulders

If you have Regular Shoulders, you can wear a variety of jackets and blazers. This is because your shoulders are strong and wide enough to hold a jacket up if the shoulder seam is softer or dropped but not too wide to make a structured or padded shoulder appear unbalanced.

Keep in mind though that the fit still needs to be right– seams should sit right at the shoulder unless they’re drop shoulders.

I’ll use myself as an example. Here’s a photo of me with my shoulders exposed. They’re somewhat Regular but can become Broad after continuous heavy weight lifting (which I rarely do anymore.)

In the photo below, I’m wearing a blazer with structured shoulders and slight padding. You can see that my shoulders look proportionate – not too wide.

In this photo below, I’m wearing a bomber jacket with softer shoulders and zero padding. As you can see, my shoulders are strong enough to hold the shoulder seams up. No sloping – all very balanced.

So there you have it. My one thing you need to know when buying jackets and blazers. Except there’s one teeny tiny other last thing, and it’s this – please make sure that you purchase the right colour for your skin tone. No point in getting the cut and style right and having the colour throw you off.