What to Consider when Buying a Blazer
Text: Mikael Vallin
Foto: Evelina Svantesson & Charlotte Håkansson
The First Things to ConsiderThere are a number of questions that you should ask yourself when looking for your next blazer in order to make sure you get it right first time:
• When do I plan to wear it?
• Does it need to suit both formal and casual occasions?
• Do I already have a well-fitting blazer, and does that brand have another model I like?
• Should it be one I can wear year-round, or one for either the colder or warmer months?
• What clothing do I already own that it should harmonise with?
• What is the best colour choice for me?
The Right Size and CutThis second step depends largely on how you answered the above questions. If you want to ensure the blazer fits well and looks good on you, it can be a good idea to choose a new blazer from a brand whose apparel generally fits you well. Though we should mention here that a couple of minor tailoring adjustments will most likely be necessary to make sure it fits just right. Many men worry that it is nigh on impossible to find a blazer that fits them properly – but factoring in a couple of small adjustments can make choosing a new blazer a much less daunting prospect.
The most common adjustment needed is a shortening of the sleeves, but more athletic types may also need to have the waist taken in somewhat, as they often have wider shoulders in relation to their waist. These small initial investments are well worth it – a blazer that fits well is going to be used much more often than one that feels a bit 'off'.
What Are You Looking for in a Blazer?Many men claim not to have any particular preferences when it comes to blazers, but dig a little deeper and you will find, for example, that many prefer a double-vented design. The ‘vent’ of a blazer is the slit at the rear that creates its drape. Pay attention to such details when deciding on which model to purchase, as they can heavily influence how much you like your blazer and, by extension, how often you wear it.
Another important factor to consider is the width of the lapels. Wider lapels can make a slim man look somewhat wider, and the sturdier among us to look even wider. This also applies to thinner lapels, which can make the well-built man look slimmer, while causing the slimmer man to look even thinner. Particularly narrow lapels can also cause the wearer’s head to look slightly too big for their body.
In this regard, a lapel width of around 7cm at its widest point is a timeless and unfailing choice. The further the width is from this measurement, the more distinct the design.
When Do You Plan to Wear It?This question applies not only to which occasions but also in which seasons. If you are shopping for one of your first blazers, it is a good idea to prioritise versatility and usability – a blazer for all seasons, if you will. A thin, woollen blazer in navy-blue is one of the most classic and versatile garments a man can own, cool enough for hotter days, but also well suited to milder weather. A light, linen model has a very summery look, for example, while dark grey flannel has a distinctly wintery aura and is too warm to wear in anything other than colder weather.
When it comes to the occasions on which you want to wear your blazer, different styles and materials can, for example, be seen as suitable for different levels of formality – the softer the tailoring, the more casual the appearance. Unlined models with a soft shoulder, matte texture, and patch pockets are probably the most informal style of blazer.
The darker the blazer, the more formal its look. A dark blue blazer with a built-up shoulder, fine woollen fabric, and front flap pockets may, together with a white shirt and dark tie, be one of the most formal outfits of all. With that said, pairing this same blazer with a denim shirt, with the top two buttons left open, creates a look that is just right for ‘everyday formal’.
What Do I Plan to Wear It with?When shopping for a new blazer, we highly recommend having a quick look at the clothing you already own. In particular, the shirts and trousers with which you plan to wear it can help you decide what colour and material to choose: Heavier blazers in tweed and flannel work better with trousers in heavier fabrics such as denim, corduroy, and flannel. Likewise, thinner blazers in cotton, linen, or wool are better suited to trousers in lighter fabrics, such as cotton chinos, linen trousers, and thin woollen trousers. Patterned blazers should preferably be worn only with unicolour trousers, though unicolour blazers can be worn with patterned trousers.
Many veteran blazer enthusiasts will tell you that darker blazers are easier to combine with lighter trousers – navy-blue, dark grey, dark olive-green and dark brown are particularly fortuitous choices.
The more blazers you own and the more you wear them, the more specific your preferences will likely become. This can make it both easier and sometimes more difficult to find a new one. Easier in that you now know what you’re looking for, harder in that there will be fewer manufacturers who offer the details and designs that you really want.