The blazer, the ultimate classic element of a man’s tailored wardrobe, is also the subject of lively debate about how it got its name. One legend holds that the name is derived from English nobility who took to emblazoning their outerwear with coats of arms. Others claim that the blazer is a direct descendant of the bright scarlet rowing jackets worn by
Actually, the blazer’s origins are nautical. The most romantic legend traces the jacket back to 1837 and the captain of a British frigate named HMS Blazer. To avoid the embarrassment of his crew’s shabby appearance pending a visit from Queen
The single-breasted navy blue blazer is, without a doubt, the most versatile element in a man’s wardrobe. It bridges the gap between work and weekend wear—add charcoal flannel trousers, a tie, and dress shirt for business or a knitted polo and khaki trousers for brunch. An ascot, naturally, lends an aristocratic dash, which is altogether appropriate given the garment’s regal standing in clothing history.
For consummate style, the double-breasted blazer—with peaked lapels, not notched—is without peer. Far more refined than the single-breasted model, it looks even more distinctive, if not closer to the original, with six buttons rather than four.
When the mercury climbs, the best blazer fabrics are lightweight wool, worsted, and hopsacking—a type of basket weave at once loose and airy. And Irish linen, though difficult to find, always translates well into a classic blazer. The trousers most nattily paired with a navy blazer are cream- or ivory-colored pleated wool flannels, with the season determining the fabric weight. For the less adventurous, tan gabardine or charcoal gray worsted trousers are always correct.
As with many traditional garments, the blazer has suffered some tampering over the years. Lapels have been narrowed and widened with abandon and, during one period in the early 1960s, they disappeared altogether, though the trend was mercifully short-lived. The blazer has been adorned with fussy, unnecessary detailing and even tailored in synthetic fibers better left to bulletproof vests and trampolines. And yet, like fine claret, the blazer has endured, and the unique ability to maintain a certain stature without being off-putting is probably its most valuable asset.