The blazer, an icon of British style, is without question the most convenient, versatile, and adaptable garment that a gentleman can own. Dressed up or dressed down, this singular garment offers its wearer a certain level of style and status. Famed for our long association with the blazer, this month on The Journal, we explore the history and influence of this classic menswear staple.
There are a number of origins from which the modern blazer, and its variations, descend. The first incarnation of the blazer began life as a rowing jacket in the early 1800’s, worn by members of the Lady Margaret Boat Club, the rowing club of St John’s College, Cambridge. The lady Margaret club jackets were termed blazers because of the bright red cloth which were said to have created a “blaze” of colour when worn by the rowers.
By the late 1800’s and into the Edwardian period, it was commonplace to see gentlemen upon England’s waterways wearing blazers characterised by eye-catching colours, bold stripes and contrast trim – a style still commonplace among the sartorially astute.
Another theory places the origins of the blazer at the feet of the Captain of HMS Blazer who, in 1837, dressed his crew in dark blue double-breasted jackets adorned with brass buttons, in an effort to impress the visiting Queen Victoria. The attire met with the royal approval, and this style of jacket soon spread to other ships. This, today, is known commonly as the navy blazer.
So, what defines the blazer’s enduring style?
Traditionally it is a stand-alone jacket in either a solid colour – typically navy, but occasionally green or red – or bright, bold stripes. It can be both single or double-breasted, the latter having a more structured cut and therefore more formal appearance, and should fit like a suit jacket. The versatile nature of the blazer means it can be paired with everything from grey flannel trousers to stonewashed denim.
One particular feature which gives the blazer its’ unique characteristic is the buttons. Solid gold, plain brass, sterling silver, classic enamel, motifs, club crest, monogrammed – there are hundreds of variations available, all of which provide the wearer with the opportunity for expression and individuality. A further opportunity for embellishment comes in the form of the blazer badge. Traditionally worn to denote membership or affiliation to a particular group or organisation, but not exclusively for this purpose, the blazer badge adorns the out-breast pocket, adding a certain level of character to the garment.
The Benson & Clegg blazer, part of our newly launched Capsule Collection, retains many elements of the traditional blazer while embodying influences of our house style. Designer Oliver Cross, has drawn on our heritage as blazer experts and bespoke tailors for inspiration, while remaining true to the garment’s unique origin. The Benson & Clegg blazer is made in London from a navy hopsack cloth. The silhouette, inspired by our house cut, is flattering to the wearer, with strong shoulders, a nipped in waist and a generous skirt. Piped edges to the lapels and bold patch pockets add a sense of individuality and unique style. Finished with our own antique brass buttons, this is a garment that is practical while remaining handsome.