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I’m a big believer in investment shopping and in finding and keeping a few essential pieces in my closet. When I find a piece that’s a keeper, I don’t mind paying more for it. But in return I expect it to become a wardrobe workhorse. I want it to last a long time and work with what I already own.

One thing that is essential in my closet is a good, black jacket, preferably a blazer.

A black blazer is my go-to “completer piece,” as Stacy and Clinton used to say on What Not to Wear. Gad, I miss that show.

I bought this black, Helmut Lang jacket in 2015. The jacket is a bit stretchy; it’s fully lined in the front and falls beautifully, and the sleeves are made of tee shirt weight viscose, so they roll up or push up, easily. It’s super comfortable, plus I’ve worn it with just about every pair of jeans I own: blue, white, pink, green, khaki.

I’ve pulled it on over white tees, striped tees, tees of every color. I particularly like it with a black tank top. I’ve worn it over a black cotton tank from Aritzia with white or colored jeans and sandals for lunch on a patio with a friend in the summer. And over a black silk tank from Rag and Bone, with distressed jeans and low-heeled pumps to a Christmas party last winter. I was dressy on top, casual on the bottom, and I felt fabulous.

When I bought the jacket, I was considering a white Theory blazer, but my friend Liz, who is the personal shopper at Nordstrom, urged me to try this one. “Yep. That’s the one,” I said when I pulled it on. The fact that it cost quite a bit more than the Theory jacket was only a momentary drawback. I’m glad I spent the extra cash. This is definitely an investment piece. In fact, I’ve worn it so much that every once in a while I hide it in the back of the closet so I’ll get more wear out of other things in my wardrobe.

To me an investment piece has to earn its keep, and it has to work with my lifestyle and my needs. Now that I’m retired those needs have changed. I might wear this jacket as part of a dressier outfit once or twice a year. Mostly I want it to smarten up a casual outfit of jeans and a tee and to be very comfortable… and I need it to travel well. In hindsight that white Theory jacket would NOT have filled the bill.

My Helmut Lang jacket packs well, rolls up nice and small, and once hung up, any wrinkles fall out in a couple of hours. I’ve never needed to press or steam it. It’s always ready to rumble… so to speak. And I feel great in it, no matter where I am.

Even in Paris!

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Sue Burpee lives in Ottawa, Canada, but she grew up on the east coast. After teaching high school Creative Writing for 30 years, she decided to put her money where her mouth is, take her own advice, and just start writing. Her blog High Heels in the Wilderness is the result. Sue says she is equal parts girly-girl and tomboy. Fifty percent fashion and 50 percent fishing, so to speak. She and her husband love to travel, ski, canoe, camp and fish together. They also love to spend time in the kitchen together, where Sue is definitely second in command. Sue loves to wardrobe plan and shop, but she does this on her own. Hubby is not invited. Her blog chronicles her travel and style adventures, what she is reading, plus a few stories about growing up down east.


  1. I am in love with that jacket – I have a couple of unstructured ones that I use on cruises but none of them (black, white, coral) fit perfectly. Great post…of course, I’d love to have the figure you have, as well. LOL! Adding your blog to my blog reader list.

  2. Love! I’ve got a Veronica Beard jacket with a couple of zip-out liners and I have worn it to death. It is the first jacket I’ve ever purchased that didn’t require me to shorten the sleeves.

    Also, your hair cut is trés chic! And the fanny pack too. Those millennials are all over them on Instagram.

    Nice to meet you here!

    • Thanks, Mithra. My husband will laugh when I tell him about that pack. He bought is for me for cycling and hiking and travel. It holds just enough and has the added security a wire running through the belt so it can’t be cut off by thieves. I love it because it’s black and quite slim in style so I can wear it my good jackets and it doesn’t look like the old fashioned saggy, bulging fanny packs.
      P.S. I love Veronica Beard jackets too. And have a navy one with the zip out hoodie.

  3. You’re right – it looks great and with all sorts of outfits. I need to make a slight investment in a decent jacket like that one. Because, how many more people need to see me in my floral hoodie?

  4. The only black jacket/blazer I’ve ever owned came with a suit…. and it was velvet, and I wore it with jeans sometimes. This week I gave it to Goodwill, and I had a moment of melancholy. The only thing wrong with it is it’s too narrow in the shoulders. Think that’s to the last 20 years of weight training because I’m still the same size. xoxo, Brenda

    • Time for a new one, Brenda. As my mum would say… that one didn’t owe you anything. I have a few old blazers which still fit, the pants… not so much:)

  5. What a great jacket, Sue! (Love the pic of you in the red Adirondack chair!) I have a black one that I wear like you do yours: With white, back or dark blue jeans or trousers…it just works because the fit is superb and it’s the best quality I can afford. Not all of us can afford Helmut Lang, but I’d suggest that we check consignment shops for good brands. We’ve got a TON where I live! And don’t neglect a bit of tailoring if you need it – it might be just the fix to make your jacket look more expensive, ladies!

    • You’re right about consignment shops… if you’re lucky to have ones near you which stock good quality pieces. Buying good quality second hand pieces and then having them tailored can save a chunk of change.

  6. I love this jacket. I am always looking for a nice black jacket that fits well. I have sloppy shoulders and a big bust and having a jacket altered is the only way I get a good fit.

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