We talk an awful lot about fashion essentials here at FashionBeans – from the basics that no wardrobe should be without, to the individual items that will really take your style up a sartorial notch. The blazer falls squarely into both of those categories, a basic that you REALLY can’t do without as well as a singular item to make your wardrobe effortlessly more elegant and sophisticated.
They are hugely versatile, great for layering, brilliant for adding some easy individuality and perfect for both current and upcoming trends. They transcend the seasons and as such represent a perfect investment – one that should last you for years to come. Many of you I’m sure will already have a very clear idea in your head of what a blazer should or might look like and the chances are it won’t be the same as the subject this article; the unstructured blazer.
We seem programmed to go for the smartest, most refined looks we can achieve at the moment but wouldn’t it be nice to just let our hair down once in a while? The unstructured blazer could help us do just that.
As is so often the case in the fashion community, terms are passed around on a regular basis that we might not always completely understand; the phrases structured and unstructured are no different. This is particularly the case for those newer to the community, taking the first steps in developing a wardrobe. The forums are full of suggestions for blazers but not all blazers are the same. So to help those who don’t know and for those who have an idea but just want confirmation, here is a quick explanation of the key differences.
The style you would most commonly associate with a suit, a structured blazer has a more defined and (unsurprisingly) constructed nature. They have padded shoulders and additional material within the linings to help hold the shape and cut. Most structured blazers will have a tapered waist regardless of whether it is slim fit or not as this also creates the shape of the original cut.
The pockets are generally flap covered and incorporated into the jacket itself but this is not exclusive; patch pockets are common on sports/shooting jackets and other heritage inspired styles. With pressed seams, strengthened collars and cuffs the structured jacket looks to maintain clean lines and a more formal aesthetic.
Generally made from lighter materials (cotton, wool mixes or linen) unstructured jackets are more associated with the lofty temperatures of summer than depths of winter (albeit our rather mild winter.)
Overall they are a more casual style as they aren’t required to hold as much shape; the shoulder padding and inner structure of the jackets more rigid sibling is removed, making it softer and creating a more relaxed line. Rather than frame the shoulders it will follow the line and naturally drape closer to the body.
However, the unsupported nature of the fabric and the way it doesn’t taper in can lead to it looking boxy. With unstructured blazers often including patched pockets and featuring exposed seams, it means they suit more casual looks.
These features are not restricted to one or the other however, many are interchangeable such as the nature of the seams, the amount of padding, the material or ultimately, the cut. They are however, identifiable norms from which you can gauge the difference.
Take note of Alex Woodhall’s article on New Year Style Resolutions as well; particularly the section on getting to know your tailor. Unless you are very lucky, or have a bespoke jacket made for you (in which case you are still very lucky) there will always be something that can be done to a jacket to make it fit even better.
Although the unstructured jacket is in a grand sense casual, it does not mean that they do not work in a more structured outfit. As we can see from the looks above, smarter looks are achievable and the blazer simply adds a quirky edge to it.
In fact, the unstructured jacket is the perfect item to mix with your heritage fabrics and interesting accessories; a chambray shirt, a bow tie and some cords or wool trousers would create a very intriguing preppy/heritage hybrid. Team with a pair of boots for a season appropriate footwear surprise and a simple canvas satchel for a look that will scream individuality.
For the current colder season, the unstructured blazer is perfect. The softer lines and more flexible construction mean that it is superb for layering – not only does it work well with items associated with our current trends, its shape means you have more room, allowing you more space for experimentation.
For those of you with a hankering for double breasted, you might also find the unstructured root more forgiving. The inherent softness of such a blazer helps to avoid the square shape they usually create and makes a formal style more suitable for casual looks. Bearing in mind the upcoming spring/summer season, try replicating some Riviera chic with a Breton stripe tee, white trousers and a pair of loafers.
The unstructured blazer is certainly an item that deserves consideration. Our pervading desire for clean cut shapes and sharp lines make it a bold choice, but it could well be a choice worth making. So, will one be making its way into your wardrobe?
Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
As this article is over a year old, the comments are now closed.
If you have a specific question about one of the points raised in the article, why not join our free fashion & style forum and start a thread? The FashionBeans community will always do their best to help you out, and our writers also frequent the forums regularly.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with us on our contact us page.