If you want to be the best dressed man in the room, wear a blazer.
It is defined as “a lightweight jacket, typically solid-colored, often worn as part of a uniform by members of a club, sports team, or school.”
You should have a blazer or two in your wardrobe already. You can wear them for more professional and sophisticated looks, or keep it casual.
The blazer is an iconic menswear piece that no man should live without. It has lots of versatility and can be worn all year around.
Once you have one in your closet, you might think “How do I style it?”
That’s what I’ll teach you today.
History of the Blazer
First, let’s freshen up on some history. Where did the blazer originate?
One of the first origins is the Lady Margaret Boat Club, which was founded in 1825 by members of St. John’s College.
The club uniform involved a bright red formal jacket. Since they were blazing so to speak, the term blazer came about. Gold buttons and detailing was reserved for high ranking members.
Their blazers were also made a bit differently than traditional ones. Since their rowing team would wear them during practice or competition, they had to be functional. This resulted in a jacket that was lighter and looser.
If we jump ahead about a decade, Queen Elizabeth ordered an inspection of the Royal Navy vessel H.M.S Blazer. See where I’m going with this?
The commander of the vessel thought it’d be a good idea to reinvent the uniforms for the men on board. That way, the Queen would be impressed.
He decided that his men would wear a double breasted suit jacket that featured brass Royal Navy buttons. For about two more decades, sailors on the H.M.S Blazer continued to wear formal jackets as a normal part of their attire.
As time went on, blazers became a normal part of school confirms across the Commonwealth nations. They featured school badges, piping, and buttons that made their jackets stand out. There are even special jackets that are awarded to students who achieve high academic standards.
The British Army itself has something called regimental blazers. These include buttons and insignia reflecting the rank of the individual. Because of this, blazers had somewhat of an elitist name.
They were only worn by club members, army officials, and similar associations. Over time though, this shed and they became much more mainstream.
Jackets were also normal attire for gentlemen’s sports, like cricket for example. At one point, they were even worn by tennis players, but Rene Lacoste replaced this with the legendary polo shirt.
Alright, enough with the boring history, how do we make blazers look good?
Best fabric for blazers
Blazers come in a variety of fabrics, changing their texture, appearance, and use.
Let’s begin with cotton. You can find cotton blazers at stores like H&M and Zara for fair prices. Cotton itself is lighweight and breathable. Blazers aren’t normally supposed to be heavy and thick, so it’s a great fabric to choose.
Similar to the characteristics of cotton is linen. This is perhaps the best material to wear in warm and hot weather. Linen is naturally breathable, light, and smooth. It can have a bit of a crinkled texture which adds personality.
Linen is made from flax, and also is loved in menswear for its coolness. I don’t mean that you’ll look cool, because you will, but rather that it has a cooling effect when worn.
For the fall and winter, nothing beats a wool blazer. You’ll stay warm and up your style by a couple of points. Of course, you’ll want to avoid wearing wool in the spring or summer. It’s a very resilient fabric and thick so it doesn’t need to be worn with much. Tiny pockets of air in the fibers allow moisture to be absorbed easier, too.
Some blazers are made out of a blend of two or more fabrics. Cotton and polyester blends are very common. They’re great for the spring or summer but could be worn all year. With blends, you get the best traits from different materials in one jacket.
Imagine a Harvard professor walking around campus. What would he be wearing? A tweed jacket!
Tweed is a heavyweight fabric that can withstand rain, snow, and other elements. It’s no surprise tweed is popular in the UK, where damp weather is normal.
The texture is rough and similar to wool. It’s very warm so it’s ideal for the fall and winter. It has a professional appearance that you can wear with jeans to khakis and trousers.
How a blazer should fit
Proper fitting is essential if you want to look good. Most men don’t get blazers or suit jackets right, so if you do, you’ll look like a million bucks.
Just follow these rules and you’ll get the perfect fitting blazer.
The shoulder of a blazer should not scrunch up or have too much padding. It should lay flat and the seam should run across your shoulder bone. When you are buying a jacket, this is one of the first areas to look at. It can be difficult to fix at a tailor, though it is doable.
When you button up your blazer, does it feel tight and constricted? This means that it isn’t a good fit. You don’t want to feel like you’re about to become the Incredible Hulk by doing up a button.
The lower part of the jacket shouldn’t flare out, nor should the lapels fall forward. The first means it’s too tight, the latter meaning it’s too loose.
This graphic from Bows n Ties nails it.
Look for wrinkles and any tightness when trying on a blazer. It will let you know where it needs adjustment. Very rarely will you be able to buy a jacket off the rack and it won’t need alterations.
A small detail that will set you apart from other men.
Have you ever noticed how very well fitted suits show a bit of dress shirt underneath the sleeve? Take note!
About a half of an inch of your dress shirt should be visible. It adds some contrast and gives room for your nice watch to make an appearance, too.
A blazer and really any formal jacket should land below the waist but above the butt. It isn’t too short, nor too long.
With your arms to your side, the blazer should end around the middle of your hand. Of course, like many things in style, preference also comes into play.
Some men like jackets that are a bit longer, others a bit shorter. Do what you find looks and feels best.
A well fitted jacket collar will sit comfortably against a dress shirt under it. There won’t be big gaps in between if it fits you good.
A tight collar will wrinkle the shirt underneath and will squeeze the back of your neck. Definitely avoid that! It’s uncomfortable and you’ll be sweating like mad at the office.
Styling navy blazers
Okay, you know where the blazer comes from, what fabrics are optimal, and how to get the right fit. Now, let’s learn how to style these bad boys. Starting with a navy blazer.
Is there a more versatile color than navy? It literally matches with anything.
That’s why it’s a timeless choice for blazers. Let’s take a glance at the above photo.
Our friend is wearing a navy blazer, khaki chinos, white dress shirt, burgundy tie, and brown double monkstraps. This is great outfit inspiration for work and formal events.
Brown, navy, and white is one of the most classic color palettes in menswear. And he pulls it off perfectly. The burgundy tie contrasts against the white which is key here.
For a simpler outfit, you can wear a navy blazer with a white t-shirt and jeans. Depending just how casual you want to get, you could even throw on a pair of low top sneakers. For daily activities or spending time with friends, it’s a great look.
When the weather is warm and you want to wear shorts, a blazer can sit on top perfectly. Aim for linen, cotton, or blend. Wear just a t-shirt underneath and some comfortable footwear like boatshoes.
It’s debated whether or not you should wear a polo shirt with a blazer. I say yes! Look at this outfit from Hespokestyle, it speaks for itself.
Is it traditional and by the rules? Nope! And that’s have the fun of style. You can mix your own style elements into whatever you’re wearing for a unique look.
Polo shirts are in between formal and casual. Wearing one under a blazer looks great, just keep it simple. No pockets or big logos here.
The fit is important too, you don’t want a baggy polo shirt. Aim for snug sleeves and a firm collar. The midsection should be fitted but with room to easily move around.
Styling black blazers
Black is easily the most formal color you can wear. When it comes to black blazers, you’ll probably be wearing them to work, weddings, meetings, and alike.
A black blazer can be worn with grey trousers like in the above photo. A white dress shirt acts as a neutral base to contrast brighter tie colors. Try wearing a red or blue with if you are wearing one with a black blazer.
You don’t have to go all out though.
You can wear a black blazer with khaki chinos, a cream turtleneck, and black oxfords. Heck, even just a blazer with jeans and dress shoes of your choice can work.
During the winter specifically, black is one of the best colors to have on. Firstly, it suits the atmosphere and natural look of the season. It also retains as much heat as possible from the sun, which you’ll want when it’s freezing.
Try to avoid black during the spring or summer so you don’t overheat.
Styling grey blazers
Grey is a calming neutral tone that pairs with many other colors. You’ll have no problem looking good in a grey blazer because of this.
It exudes professionalism and status, enhancing your image.
A grey blazer looks fantastic with blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and brown loafers. It’s a business casual outfit that any many looks good in.
When rocking a t-shirt and blazer, a v-neck style typically looks best. Avoid big logos and patterns for the most part. Stripes and dots might work if you get the colors just right.
Want to look more formal? Grey trousers and a black turtleneck will do just the trick. Finish it off with a pair of tan double monkstraps.
I like wearing a light grey blazer over a white t-shirt with khaki shorts in the spring and summer. It’s breathable, looks sharp, and you can always take the jacket off in the heat.
Blazers are timeless. You can wear them casually, formally, and every gentleman looks dapper in one.
The key is to nail a good fit. Ensure that the shoulders, closure, and length match what I mentioned earlier.
Next, the fabric that you wear should suit both the weather and occasion. Would you want to wear a tweed or wool blazer in the summer? Probably not. A linen or cotton one? Yep!
Take advantage of color palettes. They are essentially fashion cheat codes. These are combination of colors that you can use when getting dressed so everything matches.
What’s your favorite way to wear a blazer?