Tag Archives: custom jacket

Jacket and Jeans: It’s what we’re Wearing

imageDuring a recent meeting with Mike R.,  a Silicon Valley insurance executive, after we finished talking about his new suit, he said, “And you’re going to like this.  I want to get another pair of those jeans we did last year.”  As he spoke those words I sat there with a feeling of humble satisfaction.  “You were right,” he continued. “They cost a lot more (north of $200) than what I was used to paying for jeans, but they are totally worth it.  They are more comfortable and still look like new….and I’ve worn them a lot…especially with my sport coats!”

I was pleased, but not surprised, by Mike’s experience.  Better quality denim (in all ofimage  it’s varied blends, hues and finishes), coupled with a modern fit (whether trim or relaxed) is not (to borrow a phrase) your Daddy’s Cadillac.

A majority of the better quality or premium jeans sold and worn in the USA are 100% made in the USA.  For the most part, the denim is woven on decades old looms by highly skilled artisans in North Carolina and other parts of the South, and the jeans are designed and made in California or other parts of the West Coast.   Representing less than 5% of all jeans produced, the quality difference is easy to see and feel.  An additional benefit is the inherent longevity.  Like a fine custom suit, premium jeans will better retain their color, size and shape when properly cared for, lasting many years longer than a mass produced pair of jeans.


Note:  If you are just getting started with better jeans, a good place to begin is with a dark wash or Indigo.  That will be the most versatile with a range of jackets and the best shade of denim for business casual.

While it may never be favored by the most traditional among us, premium jeans paired with the right tailored jacket is de rigueur, epitomizing a modern sensibility for comfortable sophistication when more formal attire is not required.

As far as I can tell, the primary way that guys go wrong when putting together the jacket and jeans look is that either the jacket or the jeans don’t fit the way they should.   Most jackets and blazers circa 1999 or even 2005 are likely too broad in the shoulders, too long, and too boxy to work well with a good pair of jeans.  In other words, you can’t just update your jeans and consider it good.  The jacket and shirt must also have a modern look and feel – which means they must fit!


Now, I realize that “fit” is a somewhat relative term.  What one man considers trim may feel a bit too roomy for another.  To be sure, most men who wear a size 44 jacket or larger and/or carry their weight in the hips and thighs should not be wearing trim fitting anything, but a modern fit should come closer to skimming your body than looking two sizes too big.

In addition to fit, the fabric for your jacket is a critical decision.  Because you will be wearing it with jeans at least some of the time if not always, your jacket should have one or both of the following characteristics:

  1. If the cloth is solid (no pattern) or has a very small or subtle pattern, then it should have texture or nap, or what I like to call “surface interest.”  Flannel, tweed, corduroy, cashmere, and some silk blends….cloth with some loft….. all fit that category.
  2. If the cloth has a pattern, but a relatively smooth texture, then the pattern should be of a size that you can still see from a few feet away.  The larger pattern provides the illusion of texture, which also works well with jeans, even if the cloth is relatively smooth.

When you get the fit and fabric right, looking and feeling great in a jacket and jeans is a cinch.

Jacket and Jeans: It’s what we’re wearing!

The Iconic and Essential Navy Blazer

Could Civilization (western anyway) survive without it?

My first serious piece of clothing from the local men’s store (The Squire) was a navy blazer – a wool/poly blend, purchased for my high school graduation. I realize that some of you reading this got your first blazer at a much earlier age; but for me, that jacket was symbolic of my transition into manhood and filled me with pride.


Not including the powder blue leisure suit, purchased a few years earlier, of which nothing more needs to be said, I didn’t get my first “real” suit, a three-piece grey herringbone, until I was a senior in college. A more modern approach to wardrobe building might be to purchase the suit first; with a blazer (and grey trousers)being the second addition. Either way, the essential nature and casual elegance of a navy blazer is inarguable.

For those who care about such things, red, green, navy or blue, or a boldly striped cloth containing similar tones, would all fall within the range of acceptability for a jacket properly referred to as a blazer. Respected sources, G. Bruce Boyer in particular, suggest that the original blazer was in fact “red” and was worn by the members of the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St. John’s College, Cambridge.

The term “blazer” referred more to the color – which appeared to be set-a-blaze – than to anything else about the jacket. The model for what most of us now think of as a blazer has nautical roots, thus the term “navy blazer.”  Midshipmen in the British Navy began wearing short navy jackets called “reefers” as early as the 1820’s. (The multiple meanings of the term “reefer” are the subject of a different blog.)

Navy blue, more than any other hue, has long been the international standard for the most fundamental and versatile of “odd jackets” (a jacket not belonging to a full suit of clothes.) The most traditional cloths for a blazer are wool serge, gabardine, or flannel. More often than not a blazer would be accented by gold (or brass) buttons, historically exhibiting the crest of one’s family or club. For a more relaxed look the buttons could also be bone or mother-of-pearl, ranging in color from white to a medium or even dark brown.

The navy or blue blazer remains a beloved and iconic wardrobe essential because of its universal acceptance, extreme versatility, and at least a mildly subconscious if not direct connection to the sea and a sense of discovery. What’s better, there are numerous ways to fine tune the details of a blazer to make it both a classic and very personal expression. Your Tom James Clothier can help you design one that is just right for you.

Already have a blazer? Think that a blazer is just too basic? Consider these five ways to update your blazer in a way that you will thoroughly enjoy:

  1. If the blazer you own is made from a smooth cloth, choose one with noticeably more texture. Or vice versa.
  2. Pick a new shade of navy or blue. Dare to go blue and enjoy the compliments.
  3. Go Double Breasted this time. Classic elegance epitomized.
  4. Get a new blazer with an updated, trimmer fit.
  5. Have your next blazer made by Oxxford (Worth every penny. It will change the way you think and feel about clothing.)

Blazing new trails,