Mike & Chris
With summer’s flip-flopping temperatures and frigid A/C, I needed a jacket that wouldn’t leave me sweltering on the sidewalk. At Shop on the Lower East Side, I found a light-tan cropped hoodie with short, gathered sleeves and a removable hood (perfect for those sudden mid-afternoon thunderstorms). With two closure buttons up top and a swingy trapeze shape, it was flattering and soft. But the sweatshirt material, though cozy, was too informal for the office. 105 Stanton St., nr. Ludlow St.; 212-375-0304.
Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent
Hoping for something more structured, I browsed through Barneys’ mid-season markdowns. Typically, I fell for the only full-priced item on the rack: a dusty lavender short-sleeved jacket from Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent. With only a tie to close the flared style and delicate gathering at the top, it was more of a trench than a blazer. The sleeve length hit perfectly at the top of my shoulder, making my arms look long and really thin. What sold me, though, were the crisp lines and clean shape, which even in the worst summer heat wouldn’t look messy or unkempt. 660 Madison Ave., nr. 60th St.; 212-826-8900.
I found a shiny Lurex jacket in a silvery gray at Pema. The wide, boxy sleeves hit at an awkward in-between length (not quite three-quarter length) and the oversize rounded collar looked both childish and matronly. Worse yet, the jacket’s silhouette made me look, well, wide. The final straw, though, was the material: The unlined sleeves were so rough and itchy that I couldn’t imagine wearing this jacket for five minutes in an air-conditioned store, let alone in 90-degree heat. 225 Bedford Ave., nr. N. 4th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-8814.
At Otte, I came across another sparkly jacket. This one, by LaRok, was more like a glamorous sweatshirt. The soft black jersey fabric had copper threads woven through, which made the whole piece shine. The cut was so loose, the jacket looked more like a cape. Both the and the fabric would’ve been attractive on their own, but paired together they were totally mismatched: The fabric was too casual for the cut, and the shimmer was completely out of place. 218 Bedford Ave., at N. 5th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-3007.
I braved the unkempt aisles of Macy’s to check out the Junior floor, which stocks trendy styles for less. I was instantly drawn to a tan BCBG Girls jacket with very short, cuffed sleeves and buttons down the front. The shape reminded me of a Boy Scout’s shirt, complete with epaulets and a starched collar. Two miniature breast pockets and the slim fit lent a feminine touch, and the light cotton was breathable. I couldn’t wait to wear this with a T-shirt to work or over a strappy dress out at night. 151 W. 34th St., nr. Broadway; 212-695-4400.
At Banana Republic, I experimented with layering a suit jacket over my denim mini and tank top. I’m not opposed to suits, but this short-sleeved wool version was bizarre. The slim-fitting blazer looked as if its sleeves had been hacked off. Even though the fit was fine and the piece nicely made, this jacket convinced me that some classics are better left untouched. 89 Fifth Ave., nr. 16th St.; 212-366-4630.
The jacket I found at Urban Outfitters was made from a coral-colored wool and had two large buttons at the top. The sleeves hit just above the elbow and the body was pleated with lots of extra fabric, giving it a swingy effect. The rounded collar and adorable blue floral Pop Art lining were cute and stylish in a mod, sixties kind of way. But I hated the bright pink color, which didn’t match anything I owned. 526 Sixth Ave., at 14th St.; 646-638-1646.
At Forever 21, I pulled a cap-sleeved denim blazer off the rack. It seemed kind of tacky, but once on, it looked more tailored and sophisticated. The wide collar, accented with pleats, had a deep V-neck. Cinched and tied, the belt added great waist definition and the length hit nicely at the hip. Upon further inspection, though, the capped sleeves puffed out awkwardly, creating an odd shoulder-pad effect—completely out of proportion to the rest of the fitted style. 40 E. 14th St., nr. Broadway; 212-228-0598.