It can be galling to drop money on something that only gets a run-out during wedding season. But the blazer isn’t just your answer to events with a gilt-edged invitation. Style it right (and invest well) and one good piece can take you from desk to bar to nuptials, and everywhere in between.
Your New All-Purpose Blazer
The more ornate your jacket, the less adaptable it becomes. It’s easier to polish something simple than to try and dial down gold buttons and a crest. “A two-button jacket with patch pockets and soft shoulder is versatile enough for any occasion,” says Nish de Gruiter, VP at Suitsupply. “You can dress it up, or dress it down.”
But colour is key. Brights won’t work in formal settings, so steer neutral. Navy is sober enough for work and you can use accessories to turn the shade celebratory. Look for something half-lined, in an open-weave wool, so you can still wear it when the temperature starts climbing.
It’s time to promote your blazer from subs bench to the first name on your tailoring team sheet.
Havana Blue Plain, available at Suitsupply, priced £229.
1. With A White T-Shirt, Dark Jeans, And Trainers
Ditching the collar evicts any stuffiness. “But never a wear a printed tee under a blazer,” says Dan May, contributing style director at Mr Porter. “And avoid anything too bulky, as it will ruin the sharp silhouette of your jacket.” This is where that lack of lining comes in handy; anything too structured won’t dress this far down.
The jeans and tailoring minefield is littered with the corpses of Top Gear presenters. Swerve them with raw denim a few shades darker than the jacket and a pair of minimalist sneakers. This is no place for anti-fit. Your jeans should be slim, as should your tee, which should also end before your blazer. And don’t even consider tucking it in.
2. With A T-Shirt, Hoodie, Chinos, And Boots
The blazer is your key high-low piece. Since it’s less formal than a suit jacket it plays better with streetwear, so you can pull together disparate pieces without looking like you dressed in the dark. Just cool your palette; it’s easier to blend neutrals than brights when you’re meshing styles.
Again, fit is key. The jacket’s slim, so your hoodie, shirt and chinos need to match. But this is no time for fussiness, so leave the jacket and hoodie open, then opt for boots over trainers to cement the urban explorer vibe. And steer clear of anything too Mark Zuckerberg.
3. With Chinos, An Oxford Shirt, Sweatshirt, And White Trainers
Your blazer’s formality is defined by what it sits with. For weekends, you need to lose any office ornamentation. Swap the neck noose for an air tie and keep your trousers simple. “Make it as casual as possible,” says de Gruiter. “[Team it with] a pair of brown chinos or grey cargos, with a beige crew neck and a washed Oxford shirt.”
Echo the sweatshirt’s sporty vibe in your footwear. Brogues take your jeans up a notch, but trainers will shift your chinos from casual Friday to kick-back Saturday. Just make sure they’re white, unadorned and crafted from leather, not nylon. This is your uniform for enjoying the football in the pub, not on the terrace.
4. With Flannel Trousers, A Roll Neck, And Brogues
Playing with texture is a power move that can break up a tonal outfit, and pull together opposing shades. Contrasting your blazer with flannel in a darker shade ups its formality, but keeps you out of suit territory.
“Dress it up by wearing it with dark grey trousers,” says Brian Lishak, director at Richard Anderson. The roll neck helps you outflank that tricky open-collar-or-not conundrum.
Casual shoes turn things too informal for work, but add a pair of chocolate brogues (or even oxblood monk-straps if you’re still a big name in the #menswear forums) and you’ve got a look that can take you straight from desk to double scotch.
5. With Suit Trousers, A Knitted Tie, Dress Shirt, And Black Lace-Ups
The best way to stand out in a suited-and-booted office is to shun both. “Team it with a crisp sky blue shirt with a bluff point collar, with no topstitching,” says Lee-Anne Solomons, buyer at Austin Reed and Viyella menswear. “This combination will give you a clean and refined base for you to add character.”
Accessories lift your look but silk will drown out your blazer. Instead, think texture; a knitted tie in a darker shade than the jacket and shirt hints at your colleagues’ matchiness, without succumbing.
If you’re tonal up top, go contrast below for some Pitti-approved sprezzatura. But know that the details are key. “Make the blazer an addition rather than the focal point,” says Tom Scherdel, buyer at The Idle Man.
“Have the outfit ready and then add the blazer, and if that works go with it.” Which means your look still works when you drape your jacket over your chair back.