“Zhuzh” Up your Wardrobe & How to DIY!

Balmain Wool Jacket with Embroidered Jewel Badge,
Photo: balmain.com

Decoration Day has come and gone, but embellishments and ornamentation, when done well, have a forever appeal that transcends trends. Regardless of what’s happening in fashion, they will always look right. There’s no easier way to “zhuzh” up your wardrobe than with a jacket, cut with military precision and designed with its own built-in embellishments. One obvious advantage is that you don’t have to add much if anything at all.

Moreover, these pieces are versatile: you don’t need a special occasion to wear them. They look as good with shorts and jeans as with tuxedo pants, cocktail dresses, or long gowns. Even if you just throw them over your shoulders, you still get that extra polish that a jacket instantly imparts.

The black wool double-breasted blazer with embossed gold-tone buttons and structured shoulders seen in the opening shot is a Balmain signature. The brand’s studded logo in a distinctive gold-tone, surrounded by delicate chains and rhinestones, instantly elevates the look. Best of all, it’s been reduced 40% from $3095 to $1857 on balmain.com.

Ralph Lauren Myles Embellished Ikat Blazer
Photo: ralphlauren.com

Drawing inspiration from an archival Collection piece, Ralph Lauren’s Myles Ikat embroidered blazer is rendered from silk shantung and further embellished with shimmering sequins. It’s paired with the heavily deconstructed embellished 320 boyfriend jeans artfully detailed with hand-embroidered sequins and hand-applied paint splatters, The jeans are $1990, and the jacket is priced at $4790. Both are available at ralphlauren.com.

Expensive? Yes, but you can think of them and all the jackets featured here as exceptional investment pieces. Of course, if you search, you will always find less expensive versions. If nothing else, they can be used as DIY inspiration.

Saint Laurent Single-Breasted Button Embellished Jacket,
Photo: cettire.com

Everyone has plain, unadorned jackets in their closets, so all you need is some creativity. Even something as simple as substituting drab buttons for those out of the ordinary is highly impactful and relatively easy to do. Unfortunately, the iconic Manhattan shop, Tender Buttons, is no longer open, but you can always go to a notion store like M&J Trimming on 37th and 6th Avenue. It is priced at $2812.

Balmain Double-Breasted Oversized Blazer with Crystal Brooch
Photo: farfetch.com

It’s impossible to underestimate the power of a fabulous brooch. Lady Gaga’s 2020 Inaugural ensemble stood out because of Daniel Roseberry’s spectacular Limited Edition gilded pewter dove brooch. It is priced at $1500 and for sale at schiparelli.com.

This season, some of my favorite jackets are designed with their own brooch-like embellishments. This oversized wool jacket from Balmain is elevated with shoulder pads, evoking an androgynous aesthetic. A crystal-embellished brooch completes the dynamic aesthetic. Priced at $3795, it is for sale at farfetch.com.

Alicia’s Oddities Huge Rhinestone and Glass Brooch
Photo: etsy.com

Alicia’s Oddities offers an ornate brooch that is almost a dead ringer for the Balmain piece. Measuring 5 inches by 3.3 inches, it is made of clear rhinestones and glass stones and has dangling pieces for extra movement. If you affix it to a simple black jacket, you will surely get a similar effect without the price tag. It sells for $11 at etsy.com.

Alexander McQueen Single-Breasted Embellished Jacket
Photo: farfetch.com

This season there are some highly embellished jackets by Alexander McQueen. This peak lapel single-breasted blazer, offered in black or ivory wool, stands out because of its draped crystal patterning at the shoulders and neckline. Priced at $9500, it is for sale at saks.com.

Feather Craft 20 Rhinestone Shoulder Patch with Tassels,
Photo: etsy.com

Several sellers are offering decorative shoulder ornaments should that be appealing to you. For example, Feather-Craft 20’s rhinestone and metal shoulder patches with tassels are $21.74 for a pair and are for sale at etsy.com.

Christian Lacroix 1990’s black linen jacket
Photo: 1stdibs.com

This 1990s Christian Lacroix double-breasted linen blazer features large gold-tone metal buttons, an oversized notched collar, large patch pockets, and a yellow and red appliquéd flower on the right side of the bust. Priced at $900, it is for sale at 1stdibs.com.

Jolyana Gold Leather Camelia Brooch
Photo: etsy.com

Regardless of their material, floral corsages can be very statement-making on a simple blazer. I found this handmade oversized gold leather camellia on Etsy. The seller, Jolyana, offers them sized from 5cm to 15 cm, priced from $20 – $40.

Gucci Denim Jacket with Bird Embroidery and Nailhead Decoration
Photo: 1stdibs.com

This jacket, designed by Alessandro Michele for Gucci, is blue acid-washed denim decorated with bird embroidery at the collar and gold-tone dome stud embellishment. Dated in 2010, it is an Italian size 42, priced at $1870 and for sale at 1stdibs.com.

Springfield Leather Brass French Nail Tacks
Photo: etsy.com

The bird embroideries are not hard to find. Nor are the French brass antique studs, which are readily available and can be used to decorate a jacket in many different ways. Springfield Leather is offering a pack of 100 in 3/4 inches or 7/16 inches, priced at $11 and for sale at Etsy com.

Vintage 1980s Escada Jacket with Gold Stud Embellishment
Photo: etsy.com

Escada’s over-the-top aesthetic defines the 80s, and the era continues to hold a certain appeal. This amazing vintage black wool jacket, marked size 34, is festooned with pronounced gold studs. Priced at $795, it is for sale at 1stdibs.com.

Crafty Buddy 12mm Pyramid Studs
Photo: etsy.com

Adding pyramid studs can rev up the simplest of jackets. Craft Buddy US sells 100 12mm pieces for $6.75 on etsy.com.

Even if you can’t put them on yourself, there are many tailors around town who are capable of doing so, and between the ornaments and the handwork, it will still be a lot less expensive than the pricey jackets seen here.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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