Basics 101: The Blue Blazer

Prince Harry and NAcho Figueras Navy Blazer Basics 101: The Blue Blazer

Perhaps more than any other male garment, the traditional blue blazer is the backbone of any serious wardrobe. As versatile pieces go, it stands head and shoulders above almost any other piece of tailored clothing, and with good reason.

When it comes to meeting your needs in a sartorial pinch, the navy blazer is chameleon-like. From casual cocktails to formal boardroom, a well-made, well-fitting blazer will get the job done.

When they hear “blue blazer,” many men tend to think “yacht captain.” The jacket sparking this dreaded stereotype would be the most classic version of the blue blazer, featured in any number of Ralph Lauren ads or episodes of Gilligan’s Island (see: Howell III, Thurston). Of course, this incarnation is also the most traditional execution of the form, and as such is a generally viewed as a particularly dressy garment.

A more accurate historical context of the blue blazer lies in its adoption by the crew of HMS Blazer as a means to smarten up their formal dress. Since then, the ethos of the blue blazer has always held fast to its nautical roots, even as it was adopted by rowing clubs which gave birth to myriad variations of color, pattern, trim, piping, and badges.

Its classic design and balance of dress and function, formality and functionality, make the core elements of the blazer universally appealing and long lived. It is one of the most iconic and enduring examples of male habiliment.

Rowing Blazers Facebook Image Basics 101: The Blue BlazerMost recently, that offshoot cousin of the navy blazer, the rowing blazer, has been celebrated in an extravagant new coffee table book, “Rowing Blazers.” Written by  champion rower, Jack Carlson, with outstanding photography by our friend F.E. Castleberry, it is a celebration of the jacket itself, and the culture and stylistic influence it has spawned in both the worlds of fashion and sport. Although it occupies a specific place of influence in today’s menswear, the blue blazer comes in a range of fabrics and styles that can work with almost anyone’s style – from lightweight linens to beefy flannels, in deep navy all the way to pale sky blues.

As the king of odd jackets, a blue blazer can also fill the gap when you need to dress somewhere between a suit and a sweater, regardless of the season. It is in that vein that we here at OTC generally tend to think of the blue blazer as an informal piece of clothing. While any sport coat or odd jacket is by cultural definition formal when compared to a hoodie, for example, viewed through the lens of tailored clothing or even office casual, a blue blazer’s versatility means that it can dress up jeans and a worn-out oxford or tee shirt just as easily as it can dress down khakis and a repp tie.

Styles vary as much as material. Some blazers have horn or resin buttons and they can come with single, double, or no vents. Single breasted jackets typically sport notched lapels while double-breasted versions should have only those of the peaked variety.

With its nipped waist and dramatic massing of buttons, a double breasted blazer naturally imparts formality and command. On the other hand, a single breasted sack jacket with no darting and patch pockets can easily project a more casual “drinks at the club,” New England estate look.

Classic Navy Blazer Look Basics 101: The Blue Blazer

When it comes to shoulders, the variations are typically grounded in cultural patterns. American blazers typically have a soft natural shoulder, while English tailors tend to prefer them padded and more structured. This is particularly true with double breasted jackets; the shoulders of which can increase (padded) or diminish (natural) its sense of formality. Historically, American makers such as Brooks Brothers are arbiters of the natural shoulder.

When shopping for a blue blazer, approach it as a major investment. This should be a jacket that can carry you for years to come and something that you are happy to reach for in the morning. A well-constructed blazer made from good fabric will be as comfortable as your favorite sweatshirt and its classic styling will conquer the vagaries of many fashion cycles. That said, you do not necessarily have to break the bank when it comes to finding one that’s right for you – unless you want to.

Mass market brands like J. Crew have spent years perfecting their version of the blue blazer and in the process have converted it into a $425 hipster cool must-have wardrobe asset. At the other end of the pricing and delivery time spectrum, bespoke clothier Jon Green can make you a perfectly fitted, hand-cut blue blazer for a few thousand dollars. You will never want to take it off, ever.

In the end, the blue blazer works because of its inherent versatility and balance between formal and comfortable. It’s one of those rare garments that both stands the test of time and evolves to meet the needs of each generation.

Below are some additional examples of how you can take the blue blazer from street, to office, to drinks, to country club:

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Emmett London Navy Linen 3 Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

Typically, when one considers Jermyn Street, London’s storied home to menswear’s bespoke luminaries,  a particular expectation comes to mind. Elegance, craftsmanship, detail, and tradition. While all of these traits still hold true for the area’s established labels, some are working hard to bring Jermyn Street a little excitement, to boot.

Emmett Shirts is one of those firms that infuses classic style with contemporary flair. Nothing crazy, mind you; their business shirts are of a modern but perfectly acceptable cut. However, Emmett’s casual shirting typically sports unexpected elements, such as a signature contrasting under-cuff fabric. Founded in 1992 by tailor Robert Emmett, his designs seek to uphold the traditions of Jermyn Street tailoring, while at the same time embracing a fresh approach to dressing modern men.

Each shirt range is offered in a limited edition of 25 and new styles are introduced weekly. In addition to it’s ready-to-wear shirts, Emmett offers a popular Made to Measure service (in-shop only). In addition, they sell fine accessories, including handmade leather goods, ties, cufflinks, and even boxer shorts. The company has three stores in London and a robust e-commerce portal on its website.

OTC was already familiar with Emmett when they reached out for us to review some items; the British X Factor’s Dermot O’Leary being a customer. Emmett sent along a slim-fit navy Zepher Linen casual shirt and a buttery soft green leather wallet. Both items easily met and exceeded our expectations in terms of craftsmanship, quality, and usefulness.

The navy Zepher Linen shirt with a contrasting black under-cuff is a perfect casual summer shirt that balances dressy and casual. And, the slim fit is indeed slim, but proper washing and air drying prevented any shrinkage.

Emmett London Green Folding Wallet 1 Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British FlairThe wallet has become a true favorite. Hand crafted in Florence, Italy, it is a classic eight-card model with two currency pockets. A unique feature is the divider for the currency pockets; typically grosgrain with leather trim, this one is completely leather. A functional, as well as stylistic, touch that increases durability and adds a measure of craftsmanship, since it some creates no additional bulk.

This is the kind of brand we love to hear about and promote, because it has a sense of personality and individuality. At the same time, there is a respect for history and quality and a dedication to craft. Last but not least, Emmett may be rightly serious about it’s reputation and products, but it does not take itself too seriously.

Emmett London Navy Linen 2 Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

Emmett Business Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

Emmett Open Collar Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

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DC Sock Collection 1024x468 One Last Fathers Day Find: Dapper Classics Socks

We actually introduced you to Dapper Classics, makers of outstanding men’s socks, back in 2013, but wanted to make a return visit as part of our 2014 Father’s Day series.

So, even though Father’s Day has officially passed, OTC is extending it one more day so that we can show you some of Dapper Classics’ snazzy, colorful, and fun socks that are just right for your spring wardrobe. In fact, most of their new Spring 2014 collection was knitted on a brand new linked-toe machine that produces seamless-toe socks that are more comfortable and stylish than your typical dress sock.

Our friends at Dapper Classics have received great feedback on the linked-toe socks, and OTC can report that our own wear testing was a very comfy experience.  This brand remains at the head of the class and an example of focused craftsmanship done right.  Socks are one of those things that either feel right or wrong, and Dapper Classics socks always feel great to us.

We already know that Dapper Classics make some of the finest made in America dress socks out there, and now also mid-calf socks for your casual wardrobe.  What we did not realize was that they could make them even better, which is exactly what they did.

DC Socks3 One Last Fathers Day Find: Dapper Classics Socks

DC Socks2 One Last Fathers Day Find: Dapper Classics Socks

DC Socks1 One Last Fathers Day Find: Dapper Classics Socks

 

 

DSC 05561 Fathers Day Find: The Quixotic Pocket Square

Creating a space for yourself in a crowded market is always a tough situation.  The menswear furnishing business is particularly popular right now, with new brands planting their stylishly vintage flags every day. Enter Quixotic, a brand that caught our attention for all the right reasons.

What better way to celebrate Father’s Day, or any day for that matter, with a company dedicated to, as they put it, “inspiring gentlemanly action.”  It’s a rousing thought and reminds us that dressing well does not make you a gentleman; that goal is reached through action.  In fact, they back up those words with action of their own.  If perchance, you somehow lose or sully your Quixotic square in the act of performing a gentlemanly service, the company will send you a new one.

After all, it’s the gentlemanly thing to do.  In addition, they also believe that companies have an obligation to give back to the communities supporting them. So, Quixotic has committed to donating 10% of sales proceeds to U.S. organizations addressing domestic violence.

The pocket squares themselves are classic and casually modern. They are also made in America, each with a discrete red circle stitched into the corner; a visual signal that you do your best to be a stand-up kind of guy.

We tested out the Monday and Wednesday squares and found them to be excellent companions.  In fact, the Monday square joined the party at our recent Art of Style event in Washington, D.C.

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Father’s Day Find: Bull+Moose Ties

DSC 0534 Fathers Day Find: Bull+Moose Ties

We are big fans of neckwear brand Bull+Moose, and have actually worked with them on a few projects, most notably the fantastic Art of Style event earlier this year.

B+M’s new Spring 2014 collection hits just the right note for the perfect Father’s Day tie; slim but not skinny, fun without being goofy, and exceptionally well made.  And, if you act now, take 20% off your order using the “fathersday” code at checkout.

B+M ties are modern in the best of ways and work equally well with a suit or jeans and a sport coat. They also make a nifty white-on-white seersucker pocket square that screams warm weather style.  It’s a nice, unique touch to your Spring wardrobe, as an accent to a full outfit or a spot of style for casually hitting the town for an evening drink.

With styles that range from gently mottled blue chambray to a retro floral with pops of color on a dark background, there are many B+M options to suit different dads any day of the year.  You can opt for neck ties or bow ties in most styles and know that a portion of your purchase price goes to support the Got Your 6 organization; a group close to the heart of this veteran-owned business.

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