With the relaxing of dress codes and a high-and-low style directing men’s wear even, the classic blazer has a much greater weight in our wardrobes. The blazer has many roles to play. Which is good news really, considering a quality made, brilliantly cut blazer can cost you a sweet amount. More reasons and places to wear it, means you’ll be getting more bang for you blazer buck.
Office-ready? You know it. Weekend worthy? You bet. No longer simply the top half of a suit, the (once only formal) jacket is today your best fashion friend, in every season and dress code. Here’s 50 ways to wear a blazer — from the street to ceremony.
Blazer Do’s & Don’ts
Dom Bagnato, designer and director of Dom Bagnato prescribes: “Ensure the blazer fabric is durable and is made up of natural fibres as it recovers better. So you’ll always look fresh.”
And, according to Tom Riley, founding partner and header tailor at P.Johnson, if you know the blazer rules, you can bend them — if only just a little. “Ultimately, the blazer’s a staple and needs to be versatile,” says Riley.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of blazer style:
- Do stick to blazer fit rules. “Look for blazers that are lightly constructed. So get a different feel to wearing a suit jacket and it also makes you feel more relaxed,” says Bagnato.
- But Don’t overlook softness. “The best blazers are very light and soft. A soft construction means it dresses down as well as it dresses up,” says Riley.
- Do experiment with fabrics. “Blazer weaves, light glossy twill weaves, simple tropical plain weaves and linen or linen silk blends are all great,” says Riley.
- Do keep make sure your neutral blazer game is on point. “Keep to plain colours and plain textures. This makes it easy to style and make it work with your wardrobe,” says Bagnato.
- Don’t make your blazer the focal point of an office outfit. Stick to navy, charcoal or black so you’ve got a blazer for any occasion. “Add in accessories to lift your look,” says Bagnato.
- Do wear sneakers with a casual blazer look. Stick to clean cut, minimally designed ones. Nothing gym-ready.
- Do play around with undershirt options. A collared shirt and tie can be easily replaced by a plain cotton t-shirt, sweatshirt or roll neck knit.
- Don’t let your shirt hang longer than your blazer at the back. It looks like your a kid wearing dad’s clothes.
Now, here are four foolproof ways to wear a blazer — anywhere, anytime, for any man. “But, it’s all about how well it’s done and if it’s appropriate for the individual,” warns Riley. “All can be done badly and all can be done well.”
#1 Tee & Jeans
Dressing down the blazer? Evict the ever-present collared shirt and tie combo and move in a basic cotton t-shirt. But there are some rules: stick to plain (nothing patterned or printed), neutrals (white for day and black for nights) and make sure it’s a slim fit to avoid bulkiness. A round neck is a neater option, and stops the temptation of a plunging v-neck creeping under your coat. Finally, the t-shirt should end just past the waist, so nothing longline dangling past your jacket.
“The suggestion is ‘I’m comfortable’,” says Riley.
The t-shirt pairs better with unstructured blazers, as the structured type (canvas and lined) looks a little OTT with the laid back tee. As for your bottoms? Not trousers, but jeans, sticking with a dark wash in a slim (trouser-esque fit). Minimalist sneakers are a great street option or suede loafers for something a little smarter.
#2 Sweater, Shirt & Chinos
Perfect for casual Fridays or a smart Saturday lunch, this smarter blazer combination will vary slightly depend if it’s work or play that you’re about to embark on. Just be sensitive to dress codes, sticking to an unstructured blazer for this look, in a tasteful check (plaid, light windowpane or pinstripe) to stand out a little. Or forego patten and chose texture, says Riley: “Go for a more rustic surface, maybe a pure navy linen which has a lovely dishevelled nature.”
For weekends, lose the office-y tie and lighten the shade of your chinos: off-white or khaki are perfect off-duty shades. The blazer pairs well with a navy, brown or beige sweater (pastels can look too preppy) and a crisp Oxford shirt. Act up the sweater’s athletic vibe with sneakers, while in a workplace setting, opt for the classic approach – brogues or chunky sole derbies.
#3 Roll Neck & Wool Trousers
For winter, look no further than this season’s it knit, the roll neck. Like the aforementioned t-shirt, the roll neck does away with the need for a tie. But, it does need to be fine-gauge – nothing cable knit or chunky for layering purposes. Play around with intarsia geo-prints or jacquards for a statement knit or keep it neutral and let the texture do the talking. Texture creates visual interest in a tonal outfit, and pulls together opposing shades. This looks like a smooth finish navy blazer with a cream roll neck, and charcoal flannel or tweed trousers, opting for a darker shade for winter and formalities.
“I think the blazer can come as half of a navy suit if detailed and structured appropriately,” adds Riley. Again, shoes direct the outfit’s steps. Sneakers are Sunday friendly, while chocolate Derby boots or oxblood brogues create a look that is perfectly day-to-night.
#4 Suit Pants, Shirt & Tie, Dress Shoes
The formalities of the blazer mean its made for the office. But, nowadays stuffy corporate looks aren’t acceptable. “It depends on the character but a superfine merino with a soft structure can be very sleek and sharp yet has a generosity due to it’s softness,” adds Riley. While there is flexibility, stick to a charcoal or navy blazer and a crisp sky blue shirt (with a cutaway or straight point collar), opting for a subtle check in a dark colour if you prefer patterns.
The no-fuss blazer makes it a solid base (not the feature), introducing accessories gently. “Keep the tie relaxed in a textured fabric or go a funky knit tie, opting for a patterned shirt if you like,” says Bagnato.
Avoid fanciful accessories/ such as the boutonniere or flower pin for the office, it’s a bit too Pitti Uomo-dandy. “But, if you’re not wearing a tie, always wear a pocket hankie,” says Bagnato. Want to jazz up your lapel? A subtle, metal tone lapel pin (matching your watch), which is much better.