I’ll never forget my first blazer. It was a two-button wool blend tweed herringbone weave in navy with a thin faux-leather collar that – like my first guitar – was cheap and was bought with father’s money. It was only when I bought a second, did the novelty of wearing the shoddy, ill-fitting blazer wear off. I love this new woollen flannel blazer so much, I wear it year round with (almost) everything.
G.B. recently showed me a beautiful cotton blazer in a birdseye weave, so things do tend to get pretty creative. Now let’s make this clear. A “blazer” is any sort of navy jacket that doesn’t come with matching trousers. Given that, there are different types of blazers making them versatile so much so, the styling choices are endless when wearing a navy blazer.
With Grey Flannels/Wool Trousers
The combination of a navy blazer and pale grey flannels creates a great classic smart casual look that exudes Edwardian era sophistication and elegance without the need for a complete suit, which (let’s face it) isn’t always what you want to wear. Even grey trousers with subtle tartans, checks, and pinstripes can add another level of visual interest and complexity to the outfit. Kind of like wearing suspenders under a jacket, I find that softer patterns on clothes present a quirk in the outfit that only the wearer really knows and cares about since they are difficult to spot out. A regimental striped necktie and a complementing pocketchief is usually a part of the well-rounded plot to this ensemble, especially with a double-breasted nautical blazer. But playing around with knitted silk ties and even paisley patterns never hurt anybody. Actually, I was really digging Tom’s look the other Sunday.
Andy Warhol was not only an iconic pop figure of the sixties but become somewhat of a style icon when he started to don a blazer with his beloved 501’s. He was in fact emulating his more fashionable business manager, Fred Hughes, who first wore the combination but with Warhol’s dedication to the hard-wearing cotton trousers (“I want to die with my blue jeans on”), that became known as the “Warhol Look”. Whilst some consider it the equivalent of a sartorial mullet (Business in the front, party in the back) due to its clashing formality/casualness, it makes for an interesting and comfortable combination with a more casual blazer e.g. something deconstructed or cotton.
This combination serves as a renewal of the 1920’s English sports club outfit where the blazer was accompanied by white trousers instead. The blazer and chinos compliment each other semantically and aesthetically, where the combination of the soft, light beige creates a high contrast with the deep navy, so it looks less like a suit and plays smart casual. Moreover, it provides a great foundation for matching any shirt or tie because of the versatility of a shade such as navy in the cynosure in colouring the complexion (G.B. has written a pretty neat article on this in Fundamentals: Colours – Part 2). Nowadays, different colours such as olive and mulberry (I’m learning my colours, guys) are regularly worn with the rise of the preppy aesthetic that Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren promote, but beige/white will always be the undying classic of menswear.
With a Sweater/Cardigan
The Ivy league inspired, sweater under the blazer look can add more colour and interest to the cynosure and is my favourite way to wear a blazer in the winter. A V-neck sweater will correctly frame and provide complimentary contours to rounded faces and also, adds some space for showing off a fancy tie as opposed to wearing a crew neck which is better suited for more sharply shaped faces. Cardigans produce a masculine shaping of the torso with the large V-profile as well as having the advantage of being unbuttoned when you’re getting a bit too hot, whilst adding an English touch without having to go all Tom Ford on everyone. But for me, the most rewarding part of wearing knits with a blazer is (usually) the interesting texture that is presented, immediately different to any other sort of clothing and unique in its own respect due to the spacey weaving process.
With a T-Shirt
Whilst I’m not a large fan of the t-shirt under the blazer, I must to admit defeat seeing that Pitti Uomo was chock full of them when Florence was hit with hotter-than-expected temperatures. I usually wear button-up shirts over t-shirts but there is a benefit to being cool and not so sweaty. Unstructured/unlined jackets with soft shoulders make for the best choice of blazer to compliment the casual cool that the shirt-blazer combo projects. The casual collarless style lends the wearer an air of laid back ease and a simplistic, minimal aesthetic.