(all blazers thrifted... though the red blazer was a thrifted gift from Ms. Jessie)
I now have, what some would classify, as a bone fide collection of thrifted blazers.
Why thrift blazers? Mostly because, as they say, 'they just don't make them like they used to...'. The blazers available at mid-range stores nowadays are often cheaply constructed. On the flip side, well-made blazers from high end labels are really expensive. It's nice that thrift stores have your back and offer good quality for just a few dollars each...
What are you looking for?
Good Fabric- Look for natural fabrics like cotton, linen and especially wool, when you are thrift shopping for blazers. Nowadays, you can only find wool blazers from higher end labels, while a few decades ago almost every jacket was constructed out of wool. Besides being an attractive fibre, wool is naturally quite stain resistant and holds up well to wear and tear. I'm not knocking on Gap but this blazer made of a poly-blend selling for $108, looks remarkably like my wool blazer in the second picture... one that I got for, maybe, $5? Once again... thrifting is the chance to upgrade.
Nice Drape-I don't think that a nice drape is the right terminology in this case but telling you to look for something that is well-hung, sounds... inappropriate. Basically, you should be able to hold the blazer on a hanger and see a flawless jacket. Puckers at the shoulder are a sign of a novice sewing job (seriously, it's hard to sew in a sleeve... many tears have been shed on that) and the hem should be smooth... no wobbles or waves. A curvy hem can result if a lining is improperly sewn in, if the fabric wasn't cut on the right grade or if there was a top stitch used to finish the hem inside of a nice clean lining.
Lining and Shoulder Pads-I know that there is this idea that shoulder pads belong on your Aunt Patty, who was Prom Queen in 1982, but most well-constructed jackets have shoulder pads. You may not initially notice them because they can be so thin but they are there! Shoulder pads lift the appearance of slopping shoulders and help distribute the weight of the fabric. Of course, there can be nice jackets that have no shoulder pads, but they are generally a good thing to have. They cost the manufacturer to have them put in and anytime the manufacturer pays more for something, especially a hidden but essential detail (this includes lining), it is a good indicator of quality.
Finally, when going to the thrift store, it is always important to be open minded to the sizes marked on the label but when you are looking for blazers, it is not just a good idea but necessary. The cut of blazers can vary wildly depending on the decade... When I find a small blazer from the 1980's, I can fit a my high school hoodie underneath but when I find a small blazer from the 1970's, the effort of trying to button it gives me a hernia.
So, in conclusion, may I suggest that you thrift your blazers and use the money you saved to buy your Aunt Patty a nice gift this Christmas?