In the Wardrobe: The Navy Blazer

EDK_Frank_OharaWe are happy to introduce a new occasional column here on OTC called, In the Wardrobe.

OTC began as a resource for men seeking advice, ideas, and suggestions about how best to create their own look and make smart investments in their wardrobes. Ten years on, providing readers with useful advice and thoughtful suggestions about dressing well and finding great products is still what keeps us awake at night – and we love it.

However, we don’t do it alone. OTC has some great friends who are global leaders in their fields of expertise and on whom we lean for advise and observation. On occasion, these stylishly intellectual heavyweights – like bespoke clothier Jon Green – will offer up ideas for making your closet work for you, finding the right bag, or engaging in smart sartorial investing.

First up on In the Wardrobe – the navy blazer.

Sebastian-Ward-Walking-ShirtIf there is one item in the male closet that best defines the philosophy that “less is more,” or which embodies the idea that investing in quality matters, it is the navy blazer.

While it’s true that the traditional navy blazer is the backbone of any serious wardrobe, the fact is that formal or informal, double or single breasted, off-the-rack or bespoke, a good blazer is a smart investment.

It’s a bit of a clothing chameleon; and when it comes to meeting your needs in a sartorial pinch, from casual cocktails to formal boardroom, a well-made, well-fitting navy blazer will get the job done.

You may be forgiven if, when you hear “blue blazer,” you then think (eyes rolling) “yacht captain.” The jacket sparking this dreaded and not completely unfounded stereotype would be the most classic version of this jacket, featured in any number of vintage Ralph Lauren ads or sketch comedy shows.

However, the navy blazer of today is often presented as a casually dressy garment, equivalent to a cardigan when paired with jeans and driving mocs. The classic design and balance of formality and functionality make the navy blazer universally appealing and long-lived. There is a reason it’s one of the most iconic and enduring examples of male habiliment.

As the king of odd jackets, a navy blazer can also fill the gap when you need to dress nicely but not too formally; somewhere between a suit and a sweater. Such inherent versatility means that it can dress up jeans and a worn-out oxford button down just as easily as it can dress down freshly ironed khakis and a repp tie.

Styles can vary as much as material. Some blazers have the iconic brass buttons, while others have horn or resin, and they can come with single, double, or no vents. Fabric weights can easily range from heavy flannel to lightweight linen.

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” or “drinks at the bar” look, depending on your personality.

Joseph 31_1When shopping for a blue blazer, approach it as a major investment and buy the best that you can. This is not the same thing as buying the most expensive brand with the fanciest advertising. A well-fitting, well-made navy blazer should be a jacket to which you can turn for years to come and something for which you are happy to reach in the morning. Indeed, a well-constructed blazer made from quality 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. If you can afford made-to-measure or true bespoke – and the time and cost that accompany it – by all means, go for it.

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.

    5 Comments

    1. Jan, I would not speak for Mr. Joseph, as he is a far more stylish gent than I, but perhaps he simply does not need one. While pocket squares are very of-the-moment and a darling of the fashion cognoscenti right now, they are not required to display great style.

    2. zyxwvutsr, he is indeed. The style was made popular by auto magnate and classic fashion icon Gianni Agnelli. It is a particularly Italian affectation.

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