We all love a good blazer. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone that actively dislikes them, so it perhaps comes as no surprise that we labelled them 2013’s definitive piece of menswear.
For the majority of men, the blazer represents a significant wardrobe investment – whether it be from Topman, Reiss or Savile Row. For those completely reinventing their style or simply taking their first tentative steps into the world of men’s fashion, the blazer offers your personal style an instant upgrade – confirming your intentions, helping sharpen up your image and showing a definitive change in direction.
However, the one issue I personally have is that, for the most part, the blazer is an inherently smart piece. Regardless of how you wear it – over a tee or polo and with shorts, jeans or chinos – it will always retain its formal roots. The cut, finish, materials and structure all anchor it solidly in place.
This presents a problem for those whose style is of a more relaxed disposition. When it comes to casual dressing, you don’t necessarily want the sharpest cut suit or the deepest of navy wools. Of course, this is dependent entirely on your assessment of what casual dressing is, but to my mind, the blazer in its traditional form just isn’t suitable.
Instead, when you want to maintain your casual aesthetic AND incorporate a blazer into your wardrobe you need to find something a little softer, more relaxed and flexible. Deconstructed, as it were.
The Unstructured Blazer
Whilst standard structured blazers could be described as the clean cut, straight-laced accountant of menswear, their unstructured counterparts are the little brother that was more interested in painting at school and wound up working in the creative industry. Both have their place, but the latter would probably eat that tasty yoghurt you hid in the fridge for lunch.
The biggest difference between structured and unstructured blazers is their shape and, therefore, drape. Unstructured jackets hold less shape, they aren’t cut quite so close to the body and the padding, inner workings and linings you normally find in structured jackets are removed to give them a far softer, relaxed fit.
Unstructured blazers will generally follow the shoulder more closely, which ensures the jacket drapes closer to the body in a more natural way (especially in comparison to the constructed drape of the structured jacket). Common additional features such as patch pockets, working cuffs and exposed seams also help to emphasise a casual aesthetic and they are often made of only a single layer of material, such as canvas, cotton, linen or lightweight wools.
Yet whilst you might think that this makes them unsuitable for winter, in fact, they are perfect for layering, or use as transitional outerwear. This rings particularly true with examples in heavyweight fabrics like canvas and denim. With some carefully considered layers, it could mean you don’t need to reach for your winter coat for another couple of months.
When it comes to choice of blazer, look for a piece that has a more worn-in feel and allows you to roll up the cuffs and mess up the collar. Artfully dishevelled works well here and helps you to create outfits that are in total harmony with the dressed down feel of the jacket.
Don’t be afraid of jackets with three or even four buttons, either – whilst these might be a no no for formal wear, they’re still relevant here.
How To Wear: The AW13 Unstructured Blazer
When it comes to dressing for winter, nothing says prepared like a solid pair of boots, some tough raw denim, well thought out layering and a raincoat. The American-inspired workerwear look has been a big feature of menswear the past couple of seasons, and it doesn’t show signs of disappearing anytime soon.
The unstructured blazer slots into this type of aesthetic effortlessly. Simply find one in washed cotton, denim or boiled wool and layer it over a flannel check shirt for an effortlessly rugged and masculine combination. You could also introduce a cream Henley under the shirt to provide additional warmth and detailing.
Selvedge denim is a fantastic investment and will look great here, especially when paired with chunky footwear. Give the hems a couple of turns to show off those red seams and your boots, and then throw on a lightweight parka in a bold tone such as emerald green or orange to really make a statement:
- Uniqlo Men Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt K
- Oliver Spencer Plymouth Slim-fit Boiled-wool Blazer
- Rains Jacket
- Reiss Bath Selvedge Denim Jeans Lilac
- J.crew Abingdon Waxed Cotton-canvas And Leather Backpack
- Red Wing Shoes Rubber-soled Leather Boots
Even though winter is fast approaching, we don’t all have to run and hide beneath the thickest knitwear and outerwear we can find. The smart, tailored look we all know and love doesn’t have to be banished; it just needs altering to suit the current season.
In this instance, adding a layer of fine knitwear beneath the jacket will make all the difference. Unstructured jackets work well in this situation because they straddle the divide between smart and casual perfectly and give you a little bit of extra room for layering underneath – allowing you to utilise the blazer as your go-to piece of outerwear for the transitional season.
When looking to create a sense of laid back sophistication, you want to avoid the stifling, rigid construction of traditional formal blazers and find something that gives off an air of nonchalance whilst retaining a tailored cut and clean lines. You’re aiming to suggest a whiff of formality without really showing that you care that much.
With a look like this, it’s all in the details, so think pocket squares, lightweight scarves, sunglasses, rolled sleeves and popped collars:
- Allsaints Monza Shirt
- Asos Lambswool Rich V Neck Cardigan
- He By Mango Double-breasted Wool-blend Blazer
- J.crew Floral-print Cotton Pocket Square
- Reiss Solace Soft Chinos With Garment Wash Dark Grey
- Loake Cannon Double Monk Strap Shoe
Unstructured blazers can be considered the ultimate throw on piece because they go with everything – use them with granddad collar shirts, polos, knitwear, Oxford shirts, Henley tees or whatever takes your fancy.
Due to the soft, flowing way they drape, it means you don’t have to do up your jacket in order to maintain your silhouette like you would a formal, structured version. This means you can create outfits with real depth that show off multiple layers underneath.
In this look we’ve gone for a timeless navy polo under a camel safari-inspired jacket. The bold colour gives the look some punch, yet the polo reins it back in.
Macs are an excellent investment and will help protect your clothes from the harsh elements we are faced with every autumn/winter. Single-breasted macs are less formal and look great open or closed (again helping to emphasise depth) – buy one in navy or beige and it will work with absolutely everything else you have in your wardrobe.
The navy mac used here helps to keep the colour of the jacket anchored, whilst the unconventional light wash jeans will help subtly separate your look from a sea of indigo.
A pair of chunky soled chukka boots and an of-the-moment tote finish things off well. If in doubt keep it simple and clean, you really don’t need to over-think your unstructured blazer, it does most of the work for you:
- Sunspel Riviera Cotton-mesh Polo Shirt
- 4-pocket Cotton Blazer
- Asos Mac
- Allsaints Yukai Cigarette Jeans
- Allsaints Defend Tote Bag
- Polo Ralph Lauren Torrington Chukka Boots
Men’s Unstructured Blazers
To help you along, here are a few current season picks from some of our favourite retailers. If you ask me, some of the best looking and most affordable unstructured blazers come from our Mediterranean friends Zara, Massimo Dutti and HE by Mango, so be sure to check them out:
- Topman Vito Ulric Blazer
- Reiss Alfie Unstructured Blazer Grey
- River Island Dark Grey Jersey Blazer
- He By Mango Denim Effect Cotton-blend Blazer
- Zara Striped Blazer
- Farah Vintage Carisbrook Blazer In Navy
- Uniqlo Men Corduroy Jacket+
- He By Mango Leather Elbow Patches PiquÉ Blazer
- River Island Navy Lightweight Blazer
- Reiss Ray Knitted Blazer Navy
- Ben Sherman Staples Unstructured Single Breast Blazer
- He By Mango Washed Cotton Blazer
- Oliver Spencer Plymouth Tailored Jacket 164830
- Slowear Montedoro Slim-fit Woven Wool-blend Blazer
- Folk Wool And Cotton-blend Suit Jacket
To my mind, the unstructured blazer would be a fantastic addition to any casual wardrobe. Search around for your perfect style and then wear it to death.
Don’t be afraid of going for something a bit different either. Bolder colours (like green, burgundy or brown) or double-breasted versions are all fair game – unstructured blazers are much more forgiving and the softer shape will allow you much more flexibility when it comes to how you style it.
If you’re anything like me, with a penchant for tailoring but a look that doesn’t exactly cater for it, then the unstructured blazer could be the upgrade your personal style has been crying out for.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below….