Ever wanted to dress elegant – and casual, at the same heartbreakingly-impossible time? It’s all found in the unstructured blazer.
Perfect for winter layering or worn solo in the spring with jeans, the refined and comfortable suit jacket can be confusing as a formal-cum-casual piece. And, selecting the correct model – in fabric, colour and fit, adds another level of delusion. Where do you start?
First up, we’ve compiled a simple guide for approaching the unstructured blazer. Then, flick your eyes above for ten of the best-unstructured blazers on the market this season. Now, all you need is somewhere nice, but casual, to wear it.
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Compared to structured jackets – found in business suits and formal separates – unstructured jackets hold a less sever shape, void of the padding, inner workings and linings you normally find in structured jackets.
Unstructured varieties aren’t cut as sharply on the shoulder either, and instead, follow the natural line of the body. This means they usually aren’t overly tapered in at the sides, like structured jackets, allowing them to drape more naturally, giving them a far softer, relaxed fit.
When scanning the shop floor on your next spending spree, unstructured jackets usually bear more casual design markings: patch pockets, working cuffs and exposed seams. Look for types with at minimum two or three buttons, with some hitting four; the higher the number the more casual it looks – the lapel diminishing as the buttons rise.
Made To Move
Adding to the jacket’s versatility and manoeuvrability, and indeed casual aesthetic is the fabric. Void of canvassing, the blazers are often made of only a single layer of material, such as cotton, linen or lightweight wools.
Heavier varieties for winter come via canvas, denim and tweed with the weft of the yarn increasing in weight for extra warmth and sturdiness. Active and tech accents are popular fabric ingredients too, with some blazers made with increased Elastane for extra stretch and synthetic fibres allowing it to be worn as a raincoat.
Patterned Vs. Plain
The blazer is yours for the playing. Block colours are a failproof approach, and neutrals safer still: navy, deep red, dark green and beige big winners that will go with your current wardrobe. For summer, white is fresh, but avoid white chinos unless you’re somewhere coastal.
As for patterns, the classic windowpane and pinstripe are excellent choices, going wider and larger-scaled to create a more casual look. This season boasts for contemporary geo-prints too, stick to dark, neutrals so the impression is artistic, not brazen.
But whatever colour or pattern you choose, look for a blazer that appears a little worn-in, so you won’t feel like you’re committing sartorial sacrilege by rolling up the cuffs and messing up the lapels a little. Tastefully dishevelled is the styling tip of the day, taking a typically formal item and making it more casual.
High-and-low dressing – or the mixing of formal and casual pieces – is definitely the way to go this season.
Price: From $348
Modern classics with a twist would probably be a good way to describe everything that comes out of the J Crew design studio. And there’s definitely an onus on quality too. Their latest capsule collection, called Wallace and Barnes, features this excellent Slim Fit Blazer to add a touch of flair to a casual ensemble. It’s made from a cotton/linen blend, perfect for spring and summer, and features a three button closure and buttoned cuffs.
Price: From $400
With New York’s Bonobos you’re always going to get your fair share of value. Their blazer collections are stylish, classy and cater for both casual and office attire. This Italian Wool Blazer sits somewhere nicely in the middle – easily worn with a shirt and tie combo or with a dark roll-neck. It’s made with 99% wool to a slim fit, and features a two-button closure. There’s also two rear vents along with interior and exterior pockets.
Price: From $545
Fashion retailer David Reiss wanted to create a design-led business when he started out in 1971, with an altogether more creative philosophy than other profit focused brands. And that philosophy continues today through pieces like this World Blazer, made from a cotton blend that works great with shirts or a plain tees thanks to its slim and sleek fit. It also features notch lapels and a simple single-breasted button fastening and two front side pockets.
Price: From $449
Now if there’s one brand you would want to go to when looking for quality suits and blazers, it’s Suitsupply. They know what they are good at and stick to it, designing stunning pieces such as this Green Havana Herringbone Jacket. It’s made from a blend of wool, silk and linen fabrics that are soft and comfortable whilst providing natural breathability for spring/summer days. It can be worn with a variety of wardrobe combinations, but we think a light jumper or shirt with a pair of slim trousers should do the trick.
Price: From $399
Just because unstructured jackets lend themselves to a more smart casual look, doesn’t mean they have to be all about the city. Aussie tailoring specialists MJ Bale brings a bit of that classic country element to the fore with their creations, like this Handel Cord Jacket. It has a timeless look thanks to it’s woven finnish made from premium Italian fabrics, and features a nice wide double breasted collar and handkerchief pocket for an added element of class.
Polo Ralph Lauren
Price: From $829
We couldn’t possibly write a piece about casual blazers without a mention for Mr Ralph Lauren could we? He has created some real gems in this field, and after all, his brand’s ethos leans a lot closer towards classic smart-casual style than most. For this guide we’ve chosen his Stretch Unstructured Blazer, made from tan-stretched cotton-twill with a touch of elastane for unrestricted movement. It features notch lapels, a chest welt pocket and two partially lined internal pockets – and is certain to give you a bit of extra swagger..
Price: From $540
Tread the cobbled streets of Paris and you’re likely to see a lot of men wearing blazers. It’s almost their go-to weekend weapon of choice, no matter what age. Officine Generale are purveyors of this traditional garment, highlighted by this fantastic Slim-Fit Gingham Blazer. It’s made from tailored, cotton-blend seersucker that is puckered and textured naturally, with only a fine lining, making it perfect to wear with light shirts and tees. It’s one of those jackets you easily fall in love with that will make an appearance year after year.
Price: From $929
Although founded in 1987, it wasn’t until Boglioli brought their deconstructed K-Jacket cashmere blazer to the world that they really started to turn heads. Their designs are simply stunning and constructed using only the finest materials around. This Suit Jacket is made from soft cotton twill with an acetate lining that sits comfortably over thin shirts and tees. It features two front patch pockets, notch lapels, and the three buttons on its fastening are made from 100% buffalo horn.