In the last posts, we discussed the idea of breaking a gentleman’s wardrobe into tiers, levels that give structure and understanding to the times and places that certain pieces should be worn and, conversely, when they should not be worn. We also began discussing the first tier, which consists of suits and ties, the traditional domain of the business executive and banker. Today, we will explore tier 2.
Tier 2 is all about the blazer, and if you already have two suits in your wardrobe, it is definitely time for a blazer. A blazer splits the difference between the formality of tier 1 and the more casual clothing of tier 3 and 4, making it the ideal piece if you aren’t sure of a dress code for a gathering. Put it with a tie, and you will fit in nicely with the suit set while not offending those that have gone with a business casual option. The blazer is cut much like a suit coat, but is generally crafted from more durable weaves and from solid colors. Blue is the most traditional, followed by black and gray, but blazers come in almost any color you can imagine. One of the most famous of all blazers is the Green Jacket given to the winner of the Master’s PGA tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Course each year.
Blazers come to us via the UK, where they were first worn by boating and rowing clubs. Modern blazers often have gold colored or brass buttons which hearken to the naval wear of the past. Blazers can be both single or double breasted and can have either peak or notch lapels. Blazers often have patch pockets at both the left chest and on the skirts at the waist, as opposed to suits which have besom pockets. Occasionally the chest pocket will have an embroidered patch based on a coat of arms or logo prepared in a coat or arms presentation as a decoration. Over the years, blazers have become synonymous with private schools, particularly prep schools, and as such carry with them the air of sophistication and money while being also less formal than a suit.
Because the blazer is a stand alone piece, matching trousers to it can be an uncomfortable task for someone not familiar with the process. Typically, blazers should be matched with trousers of a different color than the blazer itself, with tan, olive and gray being common choices. Once these two pieces have been identified, a shirt and tie can be selected. In keeping with the tradition of the blazer, nautical themed ties and regimental striped ties are often chosen to complete the outfit, but any tie that compliments the look can be used.
Blazers can, and often are, used as part of a uniform, sometimes being paired with white slacks to emphasize its nautical heritage.