About this time of the year us Brits all have that same naïve view on the weather – we’re now 6 months in and we have experienced days above 20 degrees, so grab your t-shirts and shorts and abandon every other item you have because apparently it’s the height of summer. I think it’s time we came to terms with the fact that the British summer never lives up to our (still) lofty expectations – which means lightweight knits, casual long-sleeve shirts and outerwear will continue to form a critical element of our wardrobe no matter what the time of year.
Last year the blazer suddenly became THE popular outerwear choice for every male, whether it was being utilised in casual or formal outfits. However, one question I’ve been asking myself is; one year on, is it still an essential piece in our wardrobes? Well, if the spring/summer previews were anything to go by (and based on Robin’s AW11 future trends preview), its influence within the male wardrobe has only grown stronger, as this season the designers have provided us with every single cut, colour, style and fabric imaginable in order to find our perfect style match.
Once you have managed to find that perfect blazer, you can be sure that there is one trend that is the perfect compliment to your new essential…
The Nautical + Blazers Trend
If the blazer had a partner in crime he would originate from France, love horizontal stripes, and of course go by the name of “The Nautical Trend”. The classic navy blazer has long been an iconic piece within the nautical trend, as the colour and sharp lines immediately conjure images of traditional Naval uniforms.
Matt Allinson has pushed the credentials of the navy blazer as a true menswear essential, with him giving it the (now) iconic 6 pieces you should own status in his basics series. I can see why, as the blazer is such a versatile piece that you can layer over the top of pretty much anything – from shirts and tees to light knitwear – instantly smartening up a look, and making it perfect for those cooler summer evenings.
With the obvious nautical connotations the blazer throws up, sometimes you may want to avoid a navy blazer in fear that it will take the trend to a costumed level; instead opting for a more colourful blazer like those in DSquared’s current collection…
It’s clear the blazer is a prominent piece within Dean and Dan Caten’s entirely chic spring/summer collection. It’s featured in various colours including pastels (such as pink and blue), whites and also navy – all of which are perfect for the summer trends. There’s a sense of cohesion between most of the pieces as the blazers tailored fit follows onto the shirts, shorts and trousers.
However, DSquared have managed to straddle both formal and casual in the collection by creating some more laid back summer looks; placing their blue blazer with sandals, rolled up shorts and a pastel pink drop neck t-shirt, as well as using trainers and tailored combat shorts to dress down their (again Nautical inspired) white blazer.
This showcases the versatility of the item and proves that it doesn’t have to be as heavily tailored as one might think or exclusively used as part of a tailored look. Unstructured soft tailoring is a huge trend right now (see our write-up here), whilst lighter materials such as seersucker, linen and lightweight cotton are perfect for those warmer days or for taking that summer look into the evening.
Traditional nautical influences were on show at the Salvatore Ferragamo spring/summer 2011 preview. White, navy and Breton stripes were used in abundance within most of the outfits, with the colour palette showing how versatile and interchangeable it was in creating a plethora of different nautical inspired looks.
Ferragamo has refreshed and modernised the overall look by replacing the traditional dominance of navy for nude tones. Where he has stayed true to the navy stripes and dark blazers he has made up for it in the details; utilising light blue piping on one blazer, adding a bold yellow neckerchief in one look and opting for a double breasted cut in another.
Junya Watanabe’s collection has already been put under the lens on FashionBeans for its inclusion of fishermen jackets (trend write-up here) but without the Breton striped under layers that accompanied them the look would not have been as effective. The Japanese designer took this key pattern piece away from the stereotypical nautical trend, placing it underneath double breasted jackets and brightly coloured blazers – giving them a graphic nudge. Overall the nautical look is a versatile and recurring theme throughout his collection.
One of my favourite looks from the collection was the light red blazer paired with a chambray shirt and stone/beige chinos. This has underlying nautical influences but the blazer colour takes the look in a completely different direction – an excellent subtle take on the trend. The other one that caught my eye was the pairing of the white blazer with the traditional Breton top. This pairing is very much rooted within the nautical trend, but by fastening the white blazer, the Breton top becomes even more prominent and really ‘pops’ – you just can’t fail to notice it. As an every day look you could tone down the white trousers, and instead substitute in some dark wash jeans or grey shorts to relax the whole aesthetic.
Key Piece: Breton Stripes
Breton stripes are a key print every year in men’s fashion and the variety of items you can now own in this iconic pattern are endless. Every man should have a Breton striped piece of knitwear and a simple tee in their wardrobe, as they are timeless pieces which will never date. All you have to do is look at iconic images of Picasso, James Dean, and any other timeless icon who sported Breton striped items in the past to see just how classic they are and how they haven’t dated:
The runway images above back up this notion, as the Breton top is a popular item within the whole industry each and every spring/summer. When paired together with a blazer and chinos it is the epitome of refined summer style, and can be had at an affordable price. It’s a look that’ll help you out of those awkward smart/casual events and stop those hours wasted looking into your wardrobe as though it were a black hole.
Picks – Breton Stripes
Picks – Blazers
Below you will find a few combinations to help start you off on your journey to getting the nautical/blazer trend right. Some are obvious and classic, whilst others will simply nod at the trend. They are grouped together in threes:
Inspired by Junya Watanabe, a subtle take on the trend utilising a great red statement blazer and soft cotton chambray shirt which is perfect for summer. Here I mixed in beige shorts instead of full length trousers:
Inspired again by Junya Watanabe and Salvatore Ferragamo, this layers a linen white blazer (perfect for summer) over the top of a bold Breton stripe tee. Adding another nautical colour in the red neckerchief will create an additional colour pop whilst also showing you care about the details:
A classic nautical look with a twist as we use a destroyed Breton print with the Joseph long sleeve top. These are 3 key items every man should own in their wardrobe (Breton tee, beige/stone chinos and navy cotton blazer), and this is a look that is easy to throw on and very wearable for every male:
Here we go with the nude inspired theme running through the Salvatore Ferragamo show. Pairing a subtle Breton stripe with a beige or neutral blazer means that the nautical trend is toned down, leaving a perfectly refined casual summer look. I have substituted in some slim navy chinos instead of more nude toned trousers, because it is easier to wear for an everyday male:
Nautical and blazers – the perfect match this summer.