The Return of the Blazer

imageThe blazer has returned, which begs the question, “Where did it go?”  The blazer, the navy blazer in particular, has been a wardrobe staple of the well-dressed man for more than a century. True enough, but for nearly a generation it had fallen out of favor to a degree, thought by many to be either a bore or too conformist.

Well, the circle of life keeps spinning, and the blazer has returned as the most essential jacket for pretty much everyone.  All of the cool kids are wearing them again!

Truthfully, the blazer probably hasn’t been “cool” since the early days of the term, when the jackets by that name were mostly made of brightly colored cloth in shades of blue, red, and green.  In fact, the first use of the term “blazer” dates back to the bright scarlet jackets first worn by the members of the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St. John’s College, Cambridge in the late nineteenth century.

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Why the return of the blazer?  For one, wearing a tailored jacket is so very modern and is enjoying a renewed importance as a symbol of professionalism and civility.  Beyond that, what makes a blazer cool and is further fueling it’s return to prominence is an openness to more vivid colors.  The blazer is once again (to varying degrees) blazing!

Dating back to the mid-eighteenth century uniforms of British naval officers, navy blue is the traditional color for a blazer, and is always appropriate.  A navy blazer is the most formal of all your key casual wardrobe pieces.  Darker shades of blue represent a high level of authority and seriousness without appearing too severe or menacing.  As Bruce Boyer put it in Elegance, “Today that dark blue jacket, having been a staple for so many years, is internationally civilized, equally at home in the boardroom as on board, and its versatility and classic lines make it the perfect jet-age jacket, even though it was born on the sailing ships of the North Atlantic.”

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But a lot of blazers are showing up in shades of blue that are more “heightened,”more….blue.  Blue is the color of confidence, loyalty, and sincerity.  While a full suit in a brighter blue would be over the top for many men, a blazer that is brighter than navy blue is more broadly appropriate and is much easier to pull off, because a blazer is more casual than a suit and is worn with trousers of contrasting color.

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Originally blazers were paired with white or cream colored flannel trousers.  More typically a blazer is worn with pants that are a shade of gray or tan (beige).  For social wear, white, cream, and especially red pants are also making a strong return with the blazer.

The cut and the details of the modern blazer have also been updated.  A modern blazer fits close to the body, but not tight, and a little shorter than a more traditional version.  While a 6-on-2 double breasted style is traditional for a blazer, most blazers today are single breasted, two button models, emphasizing ease of function and a modern minimalism.  Distinguishing details include buttons, button holes and their color (you may want to do one or more of the button holes in a contrasting color), accent stitching, and pockets.

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Traditionally a blazer is made with gold-tone buttons, usually gold over brass, and often with a motif that represents a club, school, or regiment.  I still love my classic hopsack blazer with Holland & Sherry Buttons of 24K gold over brass that say “Carpe Diem.”

But my favorite blazer at present is my bright navy one, styled with a narrower lapel and light brown buffalo horn buttons.  That’s the one that makes people stop, and smile, and say nice things.  I’m wearin’ the blues and feeling anything but blue.

My next blazer (heck yeah, I could easily have another blazer) will have silver buttons.  Silver is the new gold! (I just made that up.)  I may also have it made with patch pockets, which is a more relaxed, casual detail.  The ticket pocket that you see on a couple of the blazers pictured in this post are not traditional, but are another way to detail and personalize your blazer.

The lining you choose for a custom tailored suit, blazer, or other jacket is one other way to personalize it.  Jackets with more expressive linings – contrasting colors and patterns – have grown in popularity during the past decade or so.

How should your blazer be styled?  In a way that defines you.

How do you wear a blazer?  Any way that you feel comfortable.

Know the rules, and make them your own.

 

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