Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Blue Blazer

The backbone of any gentleman's wardrobe is the navy blue blazer. The historical roots of the blazer are lost: some claim that it is based on a uniform favored by the captain of the HMS Blazer in the Victorian era, others claim that they were once brightly colored jackets worn by the crews of Oxford, producing a blaze of color. Whatever the historical precedent is, it is not so significant; today it is the quietly dashing foundation of the man's wardrobe.

Eventually you will have several blazers, but you will start with one. I recommend, for your first lone blazer, a decent quality worsted wool model with subdued brass buttons. The cut should be an un-tapered three-button, cut to have the middle button fastened normally and the top and bottom buttons left undone. Patch pockets at the hip level are traditional - this jacket is the heir to a working-class tradition, so the simpler construction fits. The reason for the lack of taper is twofold: 1) for comfort in a variety of situations, and 2) to facilitate layering over sweaters and heavy shirts.

Your blue blazer may be worn with khakis and a sport-shirt for a dashing casual look, or with our best dress shirt and dark gray flannel trousers as a substitute for your most formal suit. With a crisp dress shirt, a conservative silk necktie and a pair of good gray flannels, a blue blazer will take you to the most formal of affairs.

Once you have your wardrobe established, you may wish to expand your blue blazer collection. You should have a good quality heavy "doeskin" flannel single-breasted model as your most formal winter jacket, and a hopsack blazer for those summer picnics. If you like, you may include a double-breasted blazer, but not your most formal models - double-breasted jackets are best reserved for deck parties on the yacht or the cruise. Avoid the urge to don a skipper's cap.

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