Four ways to wear: A blazer
The one blazer that looks right at (almost) every occasion
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A blazer is one of the hardest working items in your wardrobe. The right style can dress up a t-shirt or dress down a tie and it fits in anywhere from a wedding to the pub. “It goes with everything from jeans to chinos and formal trousers,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald, “it’s one of the most flexible things you can wear.”
If, that is, you choose a style that’s designed for versatility. “Navy and textured grey go with everything and work all-year,” says Luke. “But olive and tan are great summer options.” Look for two-button closures – they're flattering and neither too formal, nor too casual – and avoid anything cut too slim or too short. “Very skinny blazers are a trend and it will date quickly,” says Luke. “The fabric should cover your buttocks and you should be able to fasten it without creases appearing across your chest.”
Just don’t make the mistake of buying a blazer in an emergency. “Most people choose one in a rush because they’ve got something like a job interview,” says Luke. “But it’s worth planning ahead. A good blazer will see you through all kinds of different occasions for many years. That means even if you invest a little more, you’ll still get great cost-per-wear.”
1. Will I wear it more than once?
2. Does this work with more than three pair of trousers I already own?
3. Am I willing to spend more than £350?
Photographed: Topman grey salt and pepper blazer (£70)
“Three things contribute to the cost of a blazer – fabric, construction quality and style. At this price, you’re compromising on all three, but that’s fine if your blazer only gets used occasionally, otherwise the material might wear through. Where possible, look for natural materials like wool and cotton – man-made fabrics like polyester don’t breathe and can make you sweat. It’s also wise to avoid any extra details. Things like contrast stitching add to the construction cost and that eats into the quality of the fabric.”
Look for: A good fit. At this price, getting it tailored can cost as much as the blazer.
Nice to have: Viscose lining. Unlike polyester it’s semi-synthetic, so breathes. Which means you stay cool.
Photographed: Reiss charcoal grey blazer (£250)
“That might seem like a jump in price, but it’s worth the spend. If you buy something you can wear for five years, it’s a better investment than spending a fifth as much on one that falls apart after a few months. Natural fabrics are a must at this point, but don’t be fooled by functioning cuff buttons. They used to only be found on bespoke blazers but they’re actually quite cheap to add. Manufacturers now include them on lower-priced jackets, then add £100 to the price tag. And you’ll never use them anyway.”
Look for: A notch lapel. This is one that has a gap where the lapel meets the collar, rather than a peak. It’s still smart, but more relaxed, so the blazer can work in casual situations too.
Nice to have: Buttons that aren’t plastic. Horn, bone or wood will contrast better with the fabric and make the blazer feel more premium.
Photographed: Paul Smith salt and pepper blazer (£375)
“In a premium blazer, fit and fabric are key. Because it will be better made, you can afford to get something that fits a little bit slimmer, because it will still have some give. That makes the blazer more comfortable and more flattering to your body. Also check where the blazer was actually made – places like Portugal and Romania specialise in tailoring, whereas a lot of blazers from China or Vietnam are poorly constructed, even if the the fabric is good.”
Look for: A silk- or cashmere-blend fabric. It’s a more affordable way to get the benefits of luxury materials and makes the blazer softer, as well as improving its ‘drape’ – the way it hangs and moves when you wear it.
Nice to have: A ‘floating’ canvas. This is the strip of fabric between the suit material and the lining. On cheaper jackets, it’s glued in and can’t move. ‘Floating’ means it’s sewn in so it can adjust to your body. Over time, it moulds to your shape and fits even better.
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