A blazer is a key component of the modern man’s style offering. It smartens up casual looks with a tailored edge, yet exudes a more relaxed impression than a suit. It will pair equally well with a denim and tee combination, or a crisp shirt and tailored trousers.
Some believe the garment’s name is derived from the navy uniforms made for the crew of the HMS Blazer in 1837, others claim it was due to the ‘emblazoned’ family and school crests that were applied to 19th century blazers. Whatever the origins of its name, its adoption into mainstream menswear stemmed from the necessity of a casual style of jacket to thrown on at more laid-back occasions.
Here, we take a look at the crucial styles and factors to consider when investing in this wardrobe all-rounder.
The Cotton Blazer
A cotton blazer is suitable for dressing up a fine-gauge knit during transitional months, or pairing with crisp shirting and crew-neck tees during warmer weather. A navy two-button style is a wardrobe failsafe you can rely on time and again; the shade is timeless and will complement both micro-print patterns and solid colours layered beneath.
Where to wear it: To the office with your formal shirting and silk accessories, at the weekend with a crew-neck tee or merino knit. You can’t go wrong at most smart-casual occasions with a navy blazer.
The Wool Blazer
Given that the British climate is generally of a cooler persuasion, a wool blazer is an indispensable style suitable for wear throughout most of the year. A quality virgin wool or mohair blazer in a neutral shade will prove its worth and versatility each season, and retains warmth while remaining breathable.
Where to wear it: Wear it in the week dressed up with a striped silk tie and a crisp poplin-cotton shirt, or try it with an Oxford shirt and lean indigo denim for weekend drinks. Finish the look with leather derby shoes for the office, or penny loafers at the weekend.
The Linen Blazer
Linen tailoring has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent seasons, and its suitability for warmer climes makes it ideal for maintaining a polished appearance in summery conditions. The fabric is renowned for its cooling, lightweight qualities due to the breathability of natural linen fibres.
Where to wear it: Holidays to tropical climates or warm Mediterranean city breaks. Linen is also acceptable city wear in summer for those who want to beat the heat while remaining smart. Try it with a minimalist white polo tee abroad, or chinos and an open-collar shirt in town.
The Tweed Blazer
Heritage fabrics have been big news in menswear design for successive seasons, with designers and brands reinterpreting this traditional British fabric in a modern context with slimmer, more contemporary cuts. The dense weave of tweed cloth means it retains warmth exceptionally well, explaining why it was used in the past exclusively for outdoor sports. This makes it the perfect way to combat the cold and damp British winters.
Where to wear it: Traditionally confined to the country, tweed has now made its way into the urban closet. Sunday lunch, weekend drinks, or strolls in the rural wilds are all acceptable occasions to don a tweed number. Wear it with sturdy boots in the country or polished leather brogues in town.
The Double-Breasted Blazer
The double breasted blazer is rather like sartorial marmite – you either love it or hate it. There’s certainly been a concerted effort to reinterpret this style for modern tastes, and retailers from high-street to high-end are full of them. Appearing a touch more formal than the single breasted, the overlapped, double-button front creates a structured silhouette that broadens the shoulders, offering a more masculine shape. It’s ideally suited to gents with taller, more slender frames – avoid it if you’re shorter and stockier as it broadens the chest and will make you appear squatter.
Where to wear it: In the city for work or play – it can transition nicely from the boardroom to after-hours dinner, and will make a sharp impression on a date. Try it with a lightweight cashmere roll-neck and printed silk pocket square for an elegant retro-inspired look.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
Fit illustrations from Artofmanliness.
Finding the right fit for a blazer can be a bit of minefield, but following our simple guide below will hopefully find you one that fits like a glove.
The ideal sleeve length should finish just on your wrist bone and show about 2cm of your shirt cuff. It shouldn’t be approaching your knuckles, nor should it be so short that it shows your entire shirt cuff.
The hem of the blazer should finish at your knuckles. It shouldn’t extend beyond this and shouldn’t finish above the wrist (unless specifically a cropped blazer).
The Front Fastening
When fastened, the jacket should sit comfortably showing the loose outline of your waist. The material should not be ruching or pulling (too small), not should there be so much excess fabric that your body shape is lost (too large).
Whether you’re wearing a two-button or three-button blazer, always leave the last button unfastened.
The shoulder seam of the blazer should sit naturally on the end of your shoulder. If it’s too small, the jacket will pinch and ruche around the shoulders, too large and the seam will be drooping over the edge of your shoulder.
ESSENTIAL HINTS & TIPS
Buying your blazer
- Avoid synthetic fibres – they don’t breathe like natural cloths and ultimately won’t last as long
- Don’t buy into trends if they don’t suit you. You may be reading about the virtues of the double-breasted blazer everywhere, but if you have a shorter, stockier frame, it’s only going to make the situation worse
- Wear what you’re comfortable with – everyone has their own taste in apparel, and rules are there to be broken, so if you feel like wearing a tweed jacket to the office, go for it, but keep the rest of your ensemble smart and city-appropriate
- Don’t just buy the first thing you see – do you research into brands to find the perfect fit. Many brands have a signature cut which will suit certain individuals, and once you’ve found yours, you can return to the brands each season knowing what to expect
How to Care for your blazer
- Give your blazers a rest – don’t wear the same blazer day after day. Instead, invest in several and rotate them. Hang your blazer up after a day’s wear and let it air before putting it back in your wardrobe
- Get rid of those flimsy wire hangers you have left over from your last dry-cleaning trip and invest in some broad-shouldered wood hangers for your blazers. These will help maintain the shape of your blazer
- Don’t dry clean too often. The dry cleaning process uses chemicals which gradually break down material fibres with each treatment. We recommend dry cleaning no more than twice a year for each garment to prolong its lifespan.
Words by Shane Kurup