Like many menswear staples, the blazer has its roots firmly in the world of sport. “The first blazers were meant to be worn in boats by rowers at Oxford and Cambridge,” writes Jack Carlson, the author of the definitive book on the garment, Rowing Blazers (published by Thames & Hudson). “They were very loose-fitting, sort of the equivalent of a modern-day windbreaker, and were meant to keep rowers warm during chilly training sessions and races on early mornings.”
Nowadays of course, the blazer is just as comfortable at the water cooler and the watering hole as it is by the waterside. It’s a sartorial failsafe that can span the dress codes from casual to smart with ease, equally at home dressed down with jeans and sneakers as it is smartened up with pleated trousers and brogues.
It’s a good thing, then, that you no longer need to be six foot three and training with the Oxford First VIII to get your hands on one. Here are our five favourite places to buy a blazer on the high street…
The London-based brand made its name on updating classic tailoring with modern cuts and unique details, and its current blazer range – at over 40 items deep – demonstrates just how seriously it takes that reputation.
The collection includes workwear staples like the Harry B navy blazer in pure wool and the Victor – a charcoal unstructured style with on-trend patch pockets – as well as statement pieces like the double-breasted burgundy Island blazer with its notch lapel. There’s even room for a modern take on the smoking jacket, a softly-worn velvet blazer in dusky ochre red that lends a timeless and rakish slant to black-tie dress codes.
Best for: contemporary twists on the classics
How much? from £160
The ever-reliable Topman has placed a growing emphasis on tailoring in recent years, and its collection of formal jackets demonstrates a know-how that belies its relatively modest price points.
The high street giant’s blazer collection runs the gamut from office-friendly navy and charcoal styles to outlandish seasonal options in colourful prints, with a general emphasis on more fitted silhouettes and slim lapels (not one for rugby forwards).
Our top pick? The Rogues of London salt-and-pepper woollen blazer, notable for its subtle take on the double-breasted trend.
Best for: lots of options at reasonable prices
How much? from £40
In the enveloping warmth of the Spanish metropolis, a garment like the blazer takes on a new role: more casual, slightly less structured, and just as often hung over the shoulder as worn on the back.
Naturally, then, Catalan-born brand Massimo Dutti produces its jackets in more casual silhouettes and softer fabrics. We’re fans of its textured wool number with its sportier detailing and beautifully rounded patch pockets, as well as its caramel brown twill blazer, a subtly darted jacket that lends a bookish air to a smart-casual dress code.
Best for: European flair
How much? £79.95
The vertically-integrated Suitsupply has been quietly transforming the men’s tailoring world since its birth in Amsterdam in 2000, thanks largely to the happy marriage of modern techniques and sharp cuts with ancient fabric mills like Vitale Barberis Canonico and Reda.
Spanning everyday suiting and sharp eveningwear, its blazer range is characterised by flattering, European-inspired cuts in fabrics that feel like they should cost a hell of a lot more.
Expect decadent blends of rich wool and pure cashmere on jackets that come in under the £300 mark, as well as wool-and-silk mix sports jackets that are equally as home in summer as they are in the darker months.
Best for: Savile Row-beating fabrics
How much? from £199
Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer built its reputation on doing the basics brilliantly. And while that’s still the case (the bulk of tailoring options here come in classic colourways and staple cuts), the retailer’s blazer collection demonstrates a modern eye and some neat touches that’d give several Savile Row tailors a run for their money.
Expect slim swooped lapels on the brand’s velvet black-tie options, smart-casual-friendly chunky wool numbers, and plenty of sprezzatura patch pockets on the navy blazers of its Collezione range.
What’s more, these well-built garments rarely break the bank. The majority of Marks & Spencer’s jackets come in under the £150 mark: a snip when you consider its reputation for hardiness and longevity.
Best for: classic tailoring at incredible value
How much? from £59
Marks & Spencer SS17