FEWER things in a man’s wardrobe as indispensable, with exceptions like socks and underwear, as a navy blazer. As hinted at by the New York Times coverage of Pitti Uomo (here), the world’s most important mensware event hosted yearly in Flrocence, Navy blazer’s popularity and future hipness and ubiquitness is here to stay. Not only that- but every major designer has versions of the venerable article of man’s fashion.
The blazer’s origin can be found somewhete in the realm between mythological legent and perpetual fact. It is said that Queen Victoria was once upon a time set to review her Navy. On her tour was the the ship HRM Blazer; the captain embarrassed at the condition of his crews uniform and eager to make an impression is said to have ripped down a navy-blue said and had a local tailor fashion jackets out of them thus creating an everlasting sartorial meme: the navy blazer. (another story contends that the term originally belonged to the ‘blazing red’ jackets the rowing team from one Britian’s gilded schools wore).
Indeed the word ‘blazer’ technically only refers to a navy-colored jacket and for true purists one that is double-breasted and bedazzled with brass buttons. For today’s definition we will cindlude the other ‘modern’ standard of two or three-buttoned jackets: everything else is a sportscoat.
A Gentlemen’s Guide to Sartorial Minutia: The Jacket
- Matching jacket+trousers= suit
- Jacket with different color trousers= sports jacket
- Single or double-breasted navy jacket (with brass buttons)= a blazer
- Navy jacket with black or brown buttons= a sports jacket
As with any jacket one needs to keep it simple, especially if it’s your first rendition of said article of clothing, so we recocmend that you start out with a two-button notch-lapel blazer (with or without brass buttons). Hint: the standard brass buttons blazer comes with are meant to be replaced with those emblazoned with the family crest, initials or the sumbol of your regimen… of course many of these things simply don’t apply anymore. So, instead you can keep them on or replace them with silver ones or perhaps peruse the selection at your local flea market or ebay.
The downside of the navy blazer is that it’s been around for a long time and like anything that is somewhat ubiquitous, and in this case a fashion-commodity, most renditions re there are bad, boxy and poorly made. SO look carefully and try a blazer on, walk around the store, sit down, look at it with the buttons open, with the buttons closed etc. There is nothing effeminate at posing at the mirror, remember others will look at you far more than you will look at yourself, so make sure the jacket fits right. It should sit comfortably on your shoulders without the seam going far beyond your shoulder proper, and no shoulderpads, ever. If you are a young man, or have a slim frame, stick to model with higher armholes, narrower arms and a bit of a shorter cut (unless you’re tall of course). Tall men would benefit from three buttons, shorter, talkier guys with two to even one. Men of medium or “rpund frames” should still stick to a narrower cut and the width of the lapels should match the width of the face. Have a wide face or a large frame? Opt for wider peak lapels. But, whatever you do, whatever your frame pick the right size, you shouldn’t look like you’re wearing a sack (it’s not complimenting).The Sartorialist )
The Navy Blazer: The Advantages
- Very versatile: can be worn with a button shirt, tie or no tie, a polo shirt, or if you’re the hip type a white v-neck t-shirt or Henley. You can wear with jeans (the wash needs to be lighter than the jacket), khakhis (warning, you can look like a shclepp in the pants are too baggy or pleated), white pants (for a very modern look) down to adventurous things like pastel yellow, striped blue, red, or seersucker. Moreover, for a more formal setting, a navy blazer with grey trunks looks incredibly smart.
- Can be dressed up: grey trousers, repp tie; ready for business.
- Can be dressed preppy: red pants and a white polo? White pants and a bottle of champagne. Foppish, hell no! (more on this later).
- Can be dressed down: v-neck t-shirt and jeans.
- The ultimate business-trip jacket (see above).
- It’s hip but, moreover and infinitely most importantly: It’s timeless.
The Navy Blazer: The Disadvantages
- It’s popular and sartorially ubiquitous which means there are many styles out there with special renditions, features and atributes in order to distinguish one from the other. For the first one: Keep it simple! Start basic, then go from there (you know, the blazer with white piping? That’s level 5).
- The Khaki conundrum. It seems natureal: navy blazer with kahki pants. Right? But this is a the problem, it’s so ubiquitous and overused by schkleppy banking types and no-nothing frat-boys that the look, often an oversized sack-jacket and baggy pants, has gotten a bad wrap. It’s a good look and a classic one, but it needs to be done carefully, see below:
- Choices. There are simply too many choices so let’s go to our buying guide:
TGG’s Navy Blazer Buying Guide
- Start Simple and basic for the first Navy Blazer:
- Notch lapel
- Two button
- Standard Navy color
- Light wool (so it can be used year-round)
- Slim cut: should be slightly pinched at the waist, narrow arms, higher armhoples. Dapper and proper.
- Be willing to spend; you only need one right? So do it right. A good Navy Blazer may cost anywhere from $120USD to $900USD. A notable exeption is Uniqlo’s unlined Navy blazer which is, in short, fantastic.
- Pocket squares: silk, cotton and linen- don’t be afraid. Go from simple white linen to colorful prints: Make it count.
- Different materials: the summer one (unlined, linen, cotton) to winter (wool, velvet, tweed) down to the stylish and unique (knit, patched, etc… see above picture).
Top 10 for Navy Blazers
- J. Press (sack suits- get the a size smaller and have them tailored)
- J. Crew
- Brook’s Brothers (Black Fleece is slimmer)
- Uniqlo (fantastic- lightweight and inexpensive)
- Ralph Lauren