Last week, I read an interview with the ultra-stylish Jessica Alba, who proclaimed the fitted blazer a spring wardrobe essential. She’s absolutely correct: When pulled on over a maxi dress or paired with pastel jeans and heels, it’s an instant dose of sophistication. Thus launched my weeklong search for the perfect specimen.

I spent my lunch hours scouring the Mag Mile’s department stores and boutiques, sifting through racks of chic but—yikes—expensive blazers, struggling to find something non-chintzy for less than $100. Things looked bleak as I wandered through Zara. But then, in a rare moment of retail genius, I beelined for the kids’ department.

There it hung: Amongst the boys’ duds, a lightweight checked number complete with sassy elbow patches. The sleeves, when rolled up, reveal a contrasting pattern that adds even more pizzazz. And it’s no Armani, but the fabric doesn’t scream “cheapo.” I wear a size 2 and the “11-12 years” size fits like a dream.

Sorry, boys. But you don’t get to keep this one all to yourselves. 

$55.90 at Zara