The Beatles, the Las Vegas Strip, the Navy Blue Blazer.
The navy blue blazer is iconic in the world of menswear. Not only does it look amazing, but it’s one of the most interchangeable pieces in menswear that bridges the gap between smart and casual.
The navy blazer is the second feature in our Essential Men’s Style Series and for good reason. It’s an ultra versatile garment that can be worn with everything from formal suiting down to slim fit dark blue jeans and a clean tee.
In this article we’re going to discuss the differences between a blazer, sport coat and suit jacket, different ways to wear a navy blue blazer, how it should fit, and where to buy it at various price points. But first, a quick history.
AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE NAVY BLUE BLAZER
What we now know as the “navy” blazer actually started off as red. Arriving from England in 1825, members of Lady Margaret Boat Club, the name of St. John’s College rowing club at Cambridge wore red jackets. The blazer became ubiquitous in clubs, indicating membership. Not only did men wear blazers to watch sporting events, but also while playing sports like cricket and tennis. The blazer/sport coat became widespread in various colors, patterns and stripes. Today, the navy blue blazer is a cornerstone worn by savvy and stylish men who understand the importance of style.
According to Bernhard Roetzel’s exemplary Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion, the classic navy blue blazer is double breasted, and has six golden gilt buttons. It’s always dark blue, has two side vents, a breast pocket and two pockets with flaps. Additionally, blue worsted serge is the classic fabric for the navy blue blazer.
For an in-depth guide on blazers and more history, as usual, Raphael breaks it down in typical Gentleman’s Gazette fashion.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BLAZER, SPORT COAT, AND SUIT JACKET
Today, the term “blazer” and “sport coat” are often used interchangeably, but historically there’s a difference. Let’s first discuss what separates a blazer from a sport coat.
Blazer vs. Sport Coat
A sport coat is inherently more casual than a blazer, making it the least formal of the 3 jacket types. They are typically made of visibly textured fabrics like tweed or corduroy, while a blazer can be made of those fabrics as well. Another distinguishing feature of a sport coat is its bolder patterns and colors, but a blazer can be bold and in a variety of colors too. Historically speaking, the sport coat was worn during “sporting” activities, hence the name. But since there’s little actual difference between the two, I go with blazer.
Blazer vs. Suit Jacket
A suit jacket should always be worn with the pants that it was meant to be paired with, as it’s a mistake to wear a suit jacket with chinos or jeans. A blazer can be worn as a separate, but not a suit jacket. And a blazer can also be worn with denim or chinos, but a suit jacket should not. The suit jacket is dressier than a blazer and is made of finer woolen fabric, whereas the blazer is often made heavier weighted fabrics. One final differentiator is that traditionally, the navy blue blazer has gold buttons, while suit jacket does not.
The bottom line:
Blazers/sport coats are more versatile than a suit jacket. Don’t make the mistake of wearing a suit jacket as a separate.
HOW TO WEAR A NAVY BLUE BLAZER/SPORT COAT—4 WAYS
One of the best things about a navy blue blazer is its interchangeability.
Find one with the right fabric weight and it has the potential to be worn year round. According to menswear and tailoring expert, Dan Trepanier, founder of Articles of Style, a 9-10 oz. weight can pass for all 4 seasons. Not that you would wear the same blazer year round, but who says you can’t.
So how do you rock a navy blazer? Let me count the ways.
Here are 4 distinct looks for rocking a navy blue blazer. Let’s do this flat lay style. (Shameless plug. For more flatlays, check out Gentleman Within’s Instagram page.)
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Scenario 1: Casual Cool Spring
The Winter doldrums have passed and there’s nothing quite like that springtime feeling in the air. It’s a time for white trainers, the reemergence of white jeans, and stylish shades. And of course the light bombers, lighter wash jeans, and keeping light on your feet.
Let’s start things off by getting real casual in Spring with a Breton striped shirt (shirt above is from H&M, purchased ages ago), and light olive chinos to dress down the navy blue blazer. And then you can up the casual factor with a pair of neutral white trainers (the much sought after Nike Killshot 2 sneakers by J.Crew, unfortunately sold out). Finally, add some black matte shades with polarized reflective lenses for maximum casual cool.
Spring Navy Blazer Inspiration
Scenario 2: Simple In Summer
“Summer time Chi…ahhh!”
Kanye summed up the feeling of summer with a simple line. Of course you don’t have to live in Chicago to know the sweet sensations of summer style. Surely, it’s a time for shorts, boat shoes and loafers on the regular. Also don’t forget the vibrant colors, fun prints, and light weight fabrics like chambray and linen to put in steady rotation.
Remember to keep things simple in summer. You can try this dressed down look that will have you feeling the “ahhh!” all summer long.
White jeans, a braided belt paired with tan Sperry boat shoes exudes a maritime vibe. A light-weight chambray fabric dress shirt will help to keep you cool. Next you can throw on aviators and a striped nato strapped watch because it’s summer after all. Finally, finish the simple in summer look off with a sliver of white pocket square for that subtle attention to detail that really makes all the difference. Alternatively, you could swap the leather braided belt for a navy, red striped canvas or nylon braided belt for an extra pop of color.
Summer Navy Blazer Inspiration
Scenario 3: Fashion Forward Fall
The crisp, cool, autumn breeze is a reminder that winter is coming. But first, stylish men from lands far and wide rejoice, for it’s the season to embrace layers. There’s a reason men seem more fashion forward come fall season. Because autumn is the perfect time to flex those sartorial muscles.
This getup features a burgundy, dotted knit tie that pairs perfectly with navy. Speaking of navy, the navy suede cap-toe boots are ideal for the fall season. Furthermore, you can’t go wrong with a nicely tailored pair of dark wash denim in any season. Finally, the addition of accessories like a thin leather bracelet and cotton pocket square with accents of both blue and red, provide little details that are sure to elevate your style.
Fall Navy Blazer Inspiration
Scenario 4: Keeping Warm Winter
When it’s cold outside and all you really want to do is stay in and keep warm, one of the best ways to do that is with thick layers and protecting ya neck.
This winter getup features a turtleneck in beige, also known as the roll neck sweater. I like how it contrasts against the navy blazer and charcoal wool pants. For the shoes, I went with the always stylish double monk strap in tan, walnut, cognac, whatever you want to call it. I consider the monk strap not essential for a man’s shoe collection, but a nice to have because of its bold look. Finally you can top things off with a topcoat or peacoat of choice. The beauty of this outfit is in its simplicity. And in menswear, simple is good.
Of course you can boot up if you’d like as that would be more appropriate for the cold weather. I’m in the market for a pair of dress boots and have been eying the classy Allen Edmond’s Dalton in a chocolate-brown for a while now. That would be go perfectly with this getup.
Winter Navy Blazer Inspiration
HOW A NAVY BLAZER/SPORT COAT SHOULD FIT
Instead of repeating myself, here’s an article I wrote for The Dark Knot. It features tips for buying a suit off the rack and nailing the fit. You can find the ‘fit’ part in the first section of the article.
As a slight aside, but still relevant to the topic at hand, I found this awesome visual guide in Esquire’s Big Black Book Fall/Winter guide back in 2013 on the anatomy of a blazer/sport coat.
THE NAVY BLUE BLAZER/SPORT COAT TO BUY AT VARIOUS PRICE POINTS
For your convenience, I’ve curated my navy blazer picks from across the web at various price points. Many of these blazers come recommended by fellow style bloggers and have received good reviews. Be sure to check these out if you’re in the market for a new navy blazer.
Michael Jordan, the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Navy Blue Blazer.
The legendary navy blue blazer is an icon in its own right. Not only is it one of the most versatile garments in menswear—a well-fitted navy blazer instantly makes a man appear more stylish.
In this article you got a quick history lesson on the navy blazer, learned about differences between the three jacket types, 4 different ways to wear a navy blazer, and where you can buy one at 3 different price points.
And whether you own one or not, it’s undeniable that the navy blazer is a men’s style essential that continues to endure as a staple in the modern man’s wardrobe.
I hope this was helpful in illustrating why the navy blazer is an essential that every man can benefit from having in his wardrobe.
If you liked this article, you can check the out the other features in our Essential Men’s Styles Series.
QUESTIONS OR THOUGHTS ON THE NAVY BLAZER?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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