The Journal’s guest writer, Fabio Attanasio, explores the virtues of the iconic navy blazer and shares his styling tips to demonstrate why it continues to be the most versatile garment a man can own.
"He's man's best friend," a tailor once told me. He wasn't talking about dogs, but about jackets. And not just any jacket, but the blazer. Quintessentially British, this iconic piece of men's clothing is not to be confused with a sports jacket. The true connoisseur knows that the blazer is blue. Period. We can discuss all the other aspects and intricacies, such as single or double-breasted, patch or jetted pockets, silver or gold buttons that identify the college or regiment in which you served. These are all important details which can’t be ignored. But first and foremost, we must recognise that the real blazer is blue. More precisely, that famous navy blue, a colour inextricably linked to the world of the Royal Navy, where - according to some - it seems that the garment in question was born.
The undisputed success of the blazer is owed to its versatility. There are many ways to wear the garment and, often, it is enough to substitute a polo shirt in place of a shirt and tie for a completely different look. Without pretense of exhaustiveness, I will try to describe three ways I wear my Benson & Clegg blazer according to the occasion. We will navigate through formal, informal and casual styling of the garment, exploring its versatility and understanding how it can carry you through any occasion.
The Business Look
For a formal and all-round professional look, there is only one choice – a peak lapel double-breasted blazer. This is the style I chose when commissioning my Benson & Clegg London Bespoke blazer. Double-breasted and cut in a traditional style by the house’s head cutter, Oliver Cross, I wanted to keep the silhouette as clean and classic as possible, so opted for jetted pockets and antique brass buttons for a subtle finish. Teamed with grey trousers, a crisp white shirt, a classic silk tie and a pair of black cap-toe Oxfords ensures a sharp yet professional look. Though, accepting the origin of the blazer as a sporting garment, some purists will only wear brown shoes – and who am I to disagree!
The Informal Look
If we talk about single-breasted, or perhaps double-breasted with silver buttons, then the gentleman knows that he is moving into the realm of informality which, as mentioned already, allows for a wider range of choice when it comes to styling combinations. A classic cloth, such as mohair, goes perfectly with light cottons and linens, essential for the warmer months. While dressing informally, we can dare to be adventurous with patterns when it comes to shirting, especially when paired with a simple knitted silk tie. This is exactly the look I opt for when wearing my Benson & Clegg blazer. I complete the look with a pair of London Bespoke trousers, made in a peach Crispaire by Holland & Sherry – the perfect summer look.
The Dressed Down Look
For the most casual of looks, I like to combine my blazer with an open shirt, a pair of jeans and a pair of penny loafers. It’s a classic look that can carry you from day to night with ease and is suitable for any informal occasion, whether it’s having brunch in town or evening drinks with friends. If jeans are just a touch too casual, then try a pair of beige chinos – the perfect partner to the navy blazer.
The blazer's primary asset is its versatility. It's a feat of sartorial achievement that a single garment can transcend varying levels of formality while remaining unscathed. But while this man's best friend allows freedom of choice, it also requires knowledge. And the truly elegant man knows well the breadth of the range within which to make his clothing choices.
By Fabio Attanasio