The blazer, in its essence, will always be considered as a slightly more formal option, adding a certain sharpness to an outfit. If you’re thinking about wearing one casually then check out our guide to see how it’s done.
Blazers are such a versatile item to have in your apparel arsenal, they’re the perfect addition to almost any outfit to really pull a look together. The fit, colour, and material will have an impact on its formality, as will the trousers, shoes and accessories you choose to wear with it. Wearing jeans with a blazer is a classic combination that’s perfect for achieving a stylish, smart casual look suitable for dinners, dates and some workplaces. Basically, any other occasion that requires a little more finesse than the usual T-Shirt and jeans combo.
How to Wear a Blazer
Before we delve into the realm of what trousers, shoes and accessories to wear to create the perfect smart casual look, we must first discuss the casual blazer itself. There are so many different styles out there to choose from, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between what is a blazer, a sports coat or a suit jacket. Luckily we’re here to help you figure out the differences.
What to Wear With a Blazer
The blazer is considered to be less formal than the suit jacket but more formal than a sports coat, and casual blazer outfits are easy to get your head around. One of the key differences with a suit jacket is that it’s not made with a matching pair of trousers and less structured in the shoulder area.
The most common variety is in navy and for men in the British Navy, it was considered the jacket of choice in the early nineteenth century, when the garment first became hugely popular. They’ve progressed since then and a greater variety of colours, such as black, grey, dark red, and bottle green, are now widely available. It’s perhaps the material that differentiates this piece to the sports coat and suit jacket, rather than colour, with most men’s blazers being made from worsted wool, serge, cashmere, polyester, fresco and hopsack. They also mainly come with a single-breasted fastening.
A sports coat or sports jacket is more casual than a blazer and will come in a wide range of colours, usually in lighter shades. They will be patterned with anything from stripes to plaid to houndstooth. The sports coat comes in a wider variety of materials such as corduroy, flannel, tweed, or herringbone.
The sports coat can definitely feel a little more preppy, especially if accompanied with a pair of chinos and loafers. A sports coat with jeans is another classic combination that men tend to go for. It will often come adorned with added extras such as elbow patches, ticket pockets and will have a patch or hacking pockets to fall in line with its sports heritage (this jacket was traditionally worn for sporting activities such as hunting or shooting).
The fit of a sports jacket is not as structured as a suit jacket or blazer and generally, comes with a looser fit to allow for warmer layers to be worn underneath. Again, a 2-button single-breasted fastening is most common.
Finally, the suit jacket is the most formal option and is defined as such by usually being accompanied with a matching pair of trousers. Suit jackets will nearly always come in more subdued charcoal greys, blacks, and navy and can sometimes, but not often, feature subtle patterns such as stripes and checks.
The suit jacket will be void of the extra details that you would find in a sports jacket in its bid to look sharper and more sophisticated. The fit of a suit jacket is made to be slimmer than a blazer to create a more refined silhouette because suit jackets are not designed to accommodate multiple layers underneath.
The formality of this type of jacket means that it can be slightly more difficult to style casually but, if wanting to get a little bit more everyday use of it, don’t be afraid to team your suit jacket with jeans. The only issue that you may have is having to wash the suit jacket more than its counterpart trousers resulting in a difference of colour developing between the two.
How to Wear a Blazer and Jeans
Wearing a blazer casually is a great style choice for many men. It allows you to heighten any outfit and add detail and texture to a look.Black and white are a perfect combination and should always be the go-to choice when choosing black blazer outfits. The blazer and jeans look is a classic so you can be quite confident you’ll look good.
Choose a slim-fit black sports coat or blazer and pair with some skinny fit jeans and a plain white T-Shirt. If wanting to add a ‘pop’ of colour however then go for a bright short-sleeved shirt as a black blazer for men has the ability to be teamed with literally any colour meaning that anyone, regardless of personal taste, can work this casual men’s blazer with jeans look.
The Fit of a Blazer
The Fit is everything when it comes to your blazer, and because there are so many blazer styles out there, it can be tricky to pin down. It’s completely pointless spending all your hard-earned dollar on something that resembles a bin bag and doesn’t fit the contours of your body. The key is to avoid your blazer looking too big or too small, watch out for these tell-tale signs that the fit may be incorrect.
- There will be an ‘X’ shape forming at the closure where it is pulled too tight across your chest
- The seam where your shoulder pad meets the arm will not meet at the correct place which will cause straining
- If the shoulders are not wide enough this may cause the length of the arm to ride up and become too short
- The collar of the blazer will bunch and pull at the neck, limiting movement and putting the whole fit off kilter
- If the blazer is too short it will ride up the wearer’s back and fully expose the seat
- The blazer closure will sag and droop forward
- The shoulders extend past your actual shoulders creating a lumpy and untidy silhouette
- The length of the arms falls way past the base of your thumb making it look like you’ve swiped the blazer from your Dad’s wardrobe
- The collar will pull away from your neck leaving a gaping hole between yourself and the blazer
- If the blazer is too long it will drown the wearer and come past the seat
Best Blazers For Men
This can depend on a variety of factors, ranging from the season, your personal taste and what kind of social situation you find yourself in. Take a look at a few different fabrics that you could consider for your next favourite blazer.
Perfect for the colder months, tweed is a practical and durable heavyweight fabric which will keep you warm and still look stylish when the winter season is upon us. Tweed will add an interesting element of texture to an outfit and definitely should not be confined to elder gents in country manors, as is often its perception. Tweed can definitely be modernised to suit contemporary trends and should not only be seen as a formal option.
Depending on the strictness of your workplace, tweed can be a great casual blazer for work if teamed with a roll neck or open neck oxford shirt. The versatility of tweed speaks for itself as it can be worn with a multitude of looks and colours. A grey tweed blazer will work perfectly with a pair of dark grey, or even black trousers teamed with a crisp white shirt underneath.
Similar to tweed, wool and flannel blazers are often considered best in the autumn and winter season, lightweight flannel in the 9-11 oz range can be a great option in the warmer months too. Wearing wool in the winter will keep you warm, but you still want to stand out from the crowd. Try wearing a coloured wool blazer with a classic look underneath to really make a statement.
How to a Wear a Blue Blazer and Jeans
Knowing how to wear a blazer with jeans is easy as it’s one of the most classic combinations around. The navy blazer for men is a great, classic item to have in your wardrobe arsenal. Its versatility and ease-of-wear make it the perfect canvas to add to. Try teaming your blue blazer for men with a denim shirt and raw denim, or selvedge denim, jeans. This gives you a classic and versatile look that’s great for the office and for dinner afterwards.
How to Wear a Black Blazer and Jeans
Wearing a casual black blazer with jeans is a stylish and versatile look that every man can pull off. Take a plain black blazer and team it with a pair of raw or selvedge denim jeans. This instantly heightens the look to today’s standards i.e. the raw denim trend. Team this look with a darker toned shirt and you’ll be ready to go.
When the sun comes out get the linen out. This material is perfect for the warmer months because of its breathability and ability to absorb moisture quickly. It’s a much more casual option because the blazer, or summer blazers, will be less structured and it can easily crease throughout the day.
This type of jacket works well with lighter colours so if you’re feeling brave, team your linen blazer with a pair of white or beige jeans or chinos, a plain T-Shirt and a pair of trainers or desert boots for the perfect summer outfit.
What Shirt to Wear with a Mens Casual Blazer
For a formal look, it’s the Oxford shirt that reigns supreme when worn with a blazer, a tie, and a pair of smart trousers but that doesn’t mean that this look cannot be styled in a different way for those casual days. The best blazers will compliment your shirts and not take too much attention away from them.
An open-necked white Oxford shirt works well with jeans and a pair of brogues, to create a great outfit that blurs the boundaries between smart and casual attire. The look would work on occasions such as dressed-up drinks, a nice date, or a business casual workplace. The material of your Oxford shirt should be a decent quality and a rule of thumb is that those made with a soft-wash finish are the most comfortable, although slightly less dressy and work best with a sweater.
You will also want to go for an Oxford shirt with a collar that doesn’t flop and look scruffy, something that’s guaranteed with higher quality shirts. If wearing navy, your jeans should be of a slightly different shade to avoid too much blue-on-blue block colouring. Slightly paler or distressed jeans look great with a classic casual navy blazer. You can also try combining this ensemble with a brighter pair of socks to inject some fun to your outfit.
How to Wear a Casual Blazer and a Short-sleeved Shirt
A short-sleeved shirt is obviously more of an option in the warmer months and is more casual in its nature. This type of shirt has had a bad rep in recent years, mainly because it can turn a sharp summer outfit into a frumpy mess, looking like it should be combined with sandals and socks and a dodgy bum-bag…
Thankfully, there’s a shift happening in the world of men’s fashion, the short-sleeved shirt is becoming an integral part of summer wardrobes again. And with this type of shirt being, in essence, only suitable for casual occasions you can afford to experiment with colour and pattern a lot more.
One of the main things to remember is ensuring that the fit is correct. When it comes to short-sleeved shirts, there are two main areas you need to focus on: the sleeves and shoulders. As with all shirts, it should fit snugly across your shoulders without being pulled taut around the chest or sides. You don’t want any straining at the buttons. The sleeves should usually finish around the mid-bicep, although recent trends lean toward rolling the sleeves up to finish higher up the arm, but you definitely don’t want the sleeves to be pulled taut – nobody likes to look the Incredible Hulk mid freakout!
Embrace Pattern and Colour
Summer is a time when you can really have fun and let loose with your wardrobe, so definitely add a splash of pattern to your short-sleeved shirt. Try gingham or spots for a subtle pattern choice, or go full ‘out there’ and a choose a Hawaiian or floral shirt but remember to match with a more subdued blazer and bottoms.
A key trend this year is to wear a 50s style vintage shirt with wide lapels worn tucked in with a leather belt in a rockabilly style. Wear with braces or a neck tie for an added touch of the retro and grow a pretentious curly tash because why the heck not?! A pompadour haircut would finish the look off perfectly. A rockabilly blazer should be slim-fit with a skinny collar, two or more buttons and a higher waistline.
WhatPolo Shirt or T-shirt to Wear with a Blazer and Jeans
A polo shirt is a great option if you’re wondering how to wear a blazer casually without getting buttoned up with a shirt. It will feel more relaxed than a button up but is still smart enough for most smart casual occasions. Although this is a sportier look try to avoid fat rugby stripes on your polo shirt as this will look out of place with a blazer. Opt for block colours or subtle stripes instead. Keep the rest of the outfit casual too with crisp white trainers or boat shoes, a pair of blue jeans, and the shirt untucked at the waist.
The fit of your polo shirt is very important so pay attention to a few key areas. The polo shirt should be slim-fitting with fitted sleeves which reach halfway down your bicep. Much like a short-sleeved shirt, you want the sleeves to be snug but not be pulled taut. The fit across the chest should match the contours of your body but not strain and the neckline, when unbuttoned, should reach just down to the chest area (no lower!). Also, avoid wearing a polo shirt that is too long and covers the entire back pockets, this will look slouchy and untidy.
When it comes to the blazer itself, avoid a formal suit jacket as this is too much of a juxtaposition between styles. Instead, opt for a casual jacket fabric such as a cotton or linen blazer to maintain the relaxed vibe of the outfit.
Wearing a Casual T-shirt and Blazer
Wearing a T-Shirt and a blazer can be a controversial choice in the fashion world but if you follow a few simple rules you can ensure that this look is pulled off correctly. Firstly, think of the fit. Ensure that your blazer and T-Shirt are both slim fitting. Anything too baggy won’t work and will look awkward.
Secondly, think of the colour. It is advised to avoid anything too patterned (stripes are allowed) or adorned with logos or slogans and stick with a plain round or v-neck T-Shirt in either white, black, grey, or navy. If you really want to include detail then keep it small and subtle. Anything too bright will make you look like an extra in the Club Tropicana music video.
Further Reading: History
The blazer can be traced back to the captain of the HMS Blazer who chose to adorn his untidy crew in short double-breasted jackets cut in navy blue serge for Queen Victoria’s visit to the ship in 1837. These navy pieces with shiny brass buttons impressed our Queen Vic and she commissioned them to be part of their official dress uniform.
It is unclear when it went from being a uniformed item in the navy to popular amongst civilians. One explanation is that such blazers were widely available to those with no obvious association with the sea or indeed the navy via the traditional tailors on Savile Row who originally made such jackets for Royal Naval Officers. Civilians were keen to ask for replicas of these nautical jackets.
The single-breasted sports jacket became the preferred style of jacket amongst rowing clubs in the nineteenth century. These would be constructed in the colours of the rowing club and worn at regattas and meets. Now, the blazer is worn all over the world for both work and leisure and has had a revival since the 1980s where its popularity was limited somewhat by its reputation as being too formal for the young, and too stuffy for the ‘casual dress’ office.
How to Wear a Casual Blazer
- The fit: This is essential when it comes to wearing a blazer. Get measured at a tailor to be sure.
- Patterns:: Don’t wear pattern on pattern. If your shirt is a little loud then contrast with a calmer blazer.
- Accessorise: Subtle accessories such as a necktie or a pair of braces can add a pop of colour if wearing plain colours.
- Keep it Casual: For a more relaxed look try teaming a blazer with some jeans and a polo shirt.
On That Note
The premise of casual blazers for men seems like a complete contradiction on initial inspection, but when delving a little deeper into this sartorial conundrum, it is apparent that you can get more use out of them throughout the year than you initially thought. Thankfully they’re no longer only for the office or formal events.
It can take a little hunting to find the right outfit and admittedly not all combinations will work well together. The key things to avoid are the items that belong solidly to either conservative business wear or grungy streetwear e.g. a suit jacket and an embellished graphic T-Shirt. A men’s casual blazer with jeans outfit belongs to the comfortable middle ground, not to either extreme. Once you find the perfect combination you will have an outfit that holds up in almost any social situation.
Feature image from Pinterest