The blazer is a key piece in any man’s wardrobe, perfectly suited to both causal and formal settings. This guide will not only tell you how to style your blazer, it will also show you how to tell the difference between jackets.
The blazer is a classic that will never go out of fashion. A good blazer will be versatile as well as stylish, so switching your look from smart to casual is simple. Whether you want to wear it with jeans or as part of a suit, a blazer can be styled and accessorised for any occasion.
If you don’t think that you’re a blazer kind of guy, you probably haven’t found the right one for you. Slim, regular fit or casual – there are so many types to choose from. Whatever your shape, there is a perfect blazer out there for you.
What is a Blazer?
A blazer has become the blanket term for a blazer, sports coat and suit jacket. But this isn’t accurate. Traditionally, the blazer was a solid-coloured jacket, usually navy or black, with patch pockets and either gold or silver metal buttons. It is basically smarter than a sports coat but softer than a suit jacket, without the matching trousers.
Blazer definition: a plain jacket not forming part of a suit but considered appropriate for formal wear.
How a Blazer Should Fit
The most important thing to think about when buying a blazer is how it fits. You should always try a blazer on before buying – button it up, lift your arms up, bend forward – it should be fitted, but comfortable all over.
Of course there are a few exceptions to these rules. If you are wearing a more casual blazer it can be slightly looser fitting, without being baggy. Also, sleeve length isn’t as important with casual blazers as they will mainly be rolled up to the elbows.
The Difference Between a Blazer and a Suit Jacket
At first glance there isn’t much difference between a men’s blazer jacket and suit jacket, except that a blazer is created as a single piece and, as the name suggests, a suit jacket is always created as part of a suit. However, if you look a little closer the differences come down to materials and tailoring.
A good suit jacket will usually be made using finer materials. A reputable tailor will never skimp on the lining, buttons or thread. But a basic blazer is machine-made using cheaper materials. Although, these days you can buy a cheap suit, or splash out on a blazer. So it is increasingly harder to tell the difference.
Blazer vs Suit Jacket
Though a suit jacket is very similar to a blazer, unlike a blazer it cannot always stand on its own. A blazer can be worn with matching trousers, contrasting trousers, jeans or even shorts. Take the suit jacket away from the matching trousers and you could find yourself with a mismatched outfit. So if when it comes down to suit jacket vs blazer, the blazer wins on versatility.
The suit jacket was created to be uniform and smart so you can’t just wear it with any other trousers and be on your way. But if you are one of the few who can pull off a suit jacket as a blazer you can try to recreate this look.
Notice that the top half of this outfit is completely crisp and smooth, paired with smart shoes. But the burnt orange chinos complete this look. They transform a standard smart, suit in to a unique, quirky outfit.
Sportscoat vs Blazer
As the name suggests, a sports coat (or sports jacket) was originally worn as a luxury item for sporting activities, such as shooting. It came in a larger variety of colours and materials than a blazer and wasn’t considered an item for smart occasions. It’s now harder to see the difference between a modern blazer and sports coat, as blazers have become more versatile.
If you’re looking at your jacket and wondering, sports coat or blazer, look for these key features:
- Stiff material to keep its shape in formal occasions
- Fitted for a smart look
- Usually black, grey or navy blue
- Thicker material as it was originally worn for outdoor sports
- Loose-fitting enough to fit a sweater underneath
- Tends to have slits and pleats in the back to give the wearer more mobility
- Traditionally elbow patches were added to stop the elbows from wearing out
- Comes in many colours, patterns and fabrics
These tweed jackets look very similar. But the sports jacket on the left is softer and loose enough to fit a sweater underneath. Whereas, the blazer on the right is stiffer and more structured.
How to Wear a Blazer
Now you know what a blazer is you need to know how to wear it. Whether you’re going smart or casual, a blazer can complete your look. The blazer is a classic piece in any wardrobe so it makes sense to have a classic cut when choosing the best one for you. The traditional blazer is a single breasted jacket with a chest pocket and two flap pockets.
The original blazers were always black or navy. The go-to choice for a suit blazer tends to be a black blazer. For men wanting a jacket to fit many different occasions, black is a simple choice as it compliments most other colours. But black isn’t the only option for the classic blazer.
Best Blazers for Men
Navy Blue Blazer
Navy blue blazers can be just as versatile as black, and blue is a softer colour to complement the rest of your outfit. A blue blazer can easily replace a black one in an outfit.
An important thing to remember when using a navy blue blazer in an outfit is that blue is the base colour, replacing the black. So we don’t want to see any black. Choose softer colours like browns, beiges, creams and white.
If you want to keep the outfit looking classy choose matching navy work pants, a crisp, white shirt, and brown shoes. Add a tie for a super smart look, or undo the top button of your shirt for a smart casual look. If you want a bolder, alternative look you can swap the matching trousers for beige or white ones, and then add a pair of navy boat shoes and sunglasses. This is a great look for summer. Whichever way you choose to style it, this men’s blue blazer is a classic.
If you’d prefer a more unusual look, a patterned blazer is the way to go. Checked is a good choice as it can be quirky but still classic, without being too unusual, and there are so many ways to style it.
For a smart look wear it with a white shirt, chinos and smart shoes. Burgundy chinos will complement the checked pattern and make the outfit look more interesting. Alternatively, if you’re going for a smart casual look you can swap the smart shoes for slip-ons or plimsolls.
The great thing about a checked blazer is that you can just throw it on top of a plain t-shirt and jeans to enhance your casual look. If you want to roughen up your look and make it more alternative, choose ripped jeans and swap your white plimsolls for brightly coloured ones.
If you are going to an outdoor party or event you will want a different kind of blazer. Adding a bit of texture to your outfit will give you a more rugged look. Tweed or wool blazers aren’t as popular as they should be, maybe because men don’t know how to style them.
Khaki is a good colour to choose as it fits in with the rougher look. Pair it with yellows or creams and match your shoes to you shirt or t-shirt. As with all blazers, choose a shirt for a smart look and a t-shirt for a more casual look. But even though the blazer is textured, a patterned t-shirt will still work well with it.
A textured blazer, no matter what the colour, will look great with jeans as the textures will complement each other. But make sure the colours complement each other too. An alternative look for summer is a textured blazer with shorts. Choose a lighter shade of green to match with the khaki colour.
Blazers were traditionally created in neutral colours like black, blue and navy. But the modern blazer comes in all colours and patterns. As it gets to the summer season there is a wider choice of fabrics available, such as silk, linen and cotton, which also gives you the opportunity to experiment with colours.
If you want an easy way to create an original, quirky look choose a simple white shirt, work pants in a neutral colour (black, blue, grey or beige) and matching shoes.
Then to finish off the look, pick your blazer. Looking at these men’s fashion blazers, there are so many to choose from. Dark reds are a good choice if you want to go slightly bolder. But if you’re feeling really brave you may want to try greens, oranges or white.
If you’re on a budget try rummaging round charity shops and vintage fairs. You may be able to find an interesting blazer that none of your friends have. If you money’s not an issue you could get your own bespoke blazer created by a tailor.
Men’s Casual Blazers
A casual men’s blazer jacket is slightly different to a traditional blazer as it is softer and less fitted. It was created to give the smart look of a blazer without the tailoring and lining. The best way to wear it is over your casual outfit, accessorised with a pair of sunglasses and a bracelet or watch.
A casual blazer can be more versatile than a tailored one as the sleeves can be easily rolled up, and it can be worn buttoned or unbuttoned. Pair it with some jean shorts and flip flops or trainers and you’ve got the perfect beach look.
How to Wear a Blazer with Jeans
A blazer with jeans is the ultimate smart casual look, and so easy to pull off. A dark blazer with a white t-shirt and jeans is a simple look, but not the only one. For a different look try and light-coloured blazer with a black t-shirt and faded jeans. To bring the look together choose a brown loafers and a matching belt.
Black Blazer with Jeans
A black blazer and jeans is a modern classic. With one item of clothing you can transform your work wear to casual. If you’re in a rush you can just swap your work pants for some slim fit jeans and you’re ready to go to dinner or down the pub.
If you’ve got a bit more time, you can try this look. Keep your smart work shoes and black blazer. Just switch your white shirt for a t-shirt for a toned-down look. Then add the jeans. Avoid skinny jeans as they don’t fit all body shapes and ages. Slim fit jeans are more flattering and comfortable.
Your Quick Guide to Blazers
- A blazer was traditionally a solid-coloured jacket with patch pockets and either gold or silver metal buttons
- A suit jacket is basically a smart blazer with matching trousers
- If you see elbow patches, pleats or slits in the back it is probably a sports jacket
- When looking at blazer vs jacket, blazers win on versatility
- Navy and black are the original blazer colours, so stick to these if you are going for a traditional look
- Modern blazers come in a variety of different patterns and colours so the choices are endless
- For a smart look choose a shirt, for a casual look choose a t-shirt
- Jeans and blazer is a classic smart casual look
On That Note…
Now you can tell the difference between your jackets you won’t be picking up a sports coat when you want a blazer. Whether you’re going to wear it casual or smart, navy or checked, you can style and accessorize your blazer for every occasion.
Feature image from Pinterest