What does the blazer even mean?
Ah, those navy blue sportcoats, the neverending topic… So much hasbeen written about them and so much is yet to be - and rightly so! Even though I haven’t really been their biggest fan up until recently, I think I started to appreciate them again, seeing their advantages and versatility in different ways than before. In fact, I am even slowly getting to experiment with forms that I was extremely skeptical about before, as those that title refers to - so there is always something new to write about.
Author: Mateusz Tryjanowski
Disclaimer: the original text in Polish has a bit different meaning, as there are some language and cultural differences. Still, both are about exactly the same garment - and both could easily be the longest text ever written on Everyday Classic blog if I were to fully cover the topic.
However, I thought it would be much more convenient - for you and for me - not to write an article the size of a book, so I decided to concentrate on just a few most interesting aspects. Yes, there will be a bit about the history, but in general I will revolve around the two ideas I had and wrote down recently.
The first one: I don't know how you feel about that, but I, after a few years spent in the world of #menswear, had some kind of a turning point - I started enjoying seemingly boring things again. Enjoy is a good word to describe it - that’s not about having to love them, but to appreciate the fact that they are what they are, ordinary everyday items. Black turtleneck, gray suit, navy blue jacket… simple stuff. I see that I (and maybe others) may like such things in a more refined way, paying attention to quality and beautiful details visible only up close, even as subtle as the texture of the fabric. These are not intrusive, they do not attract attention in a flashy way, being just a blank canvas. They help other stuff (and your personal outfit ideas) really shine!
The second one: it's also fascinating that, after all, ultimately the most versatile pieces turn out to be either:
a) so simple and classic that they literally go with everything,
b) so strange and unusual that they don't actually match anything (= you can wear them whenever you want, as long as you like them and feel confident in them).
Those things that fall between the ends of the spectrum eventually end up lost and forgotten - too boring to be someone's signature piece, too flashy to be a workhorse.
Remember these two thoughts, they’ll be useful later!
But for now, we can't do without a definition. Kind of.
We need to clarify the title, because the naming matter is only seemingly simple - unsurprisingly it works differently in English than it does in Polish, but in both languages it’s… complicated, at best.
Originally I was going to explain what does “club jacket” and “blazer” mean - and actually, I talked about this in the original Polish version of the text I wrote first. However, it made no sense here, as in modern English the former is rarely even heard, while the latter is widely used - mainly as a way to call a navy sportcoat that is plain, all-season weight, single or double-breasted, with metal buttons (sometimes with insignia on them).
However, that’s technically not right.
That garment is technically a cross between the naval blazer and the og club jacket… with some other spin-offs (like the rowing blazer or a yachting blazer) that helped shape it on the way. I could go on and on trying to explain all that, but I’ll just use the phenomenal diagram instead (credits: voxsartoria.com/dieworkwear.com), as it would be quicker and more convenient to just repost it, sorry.
And why all that confusion and misunderstandings? Well, I guess it is because of the two different hypothetical stories of word “blazer”’s origins. Yup, it gets even more complicated here.
One story says that the term is derived from the color of the jackets worn by the students of the St. John's College, Cambridge, for the boat races - they were “blazing red”. Supposedly other jackets used for sports (not only rowing, but also cricket, polo, etc.), regardless of their colour, were later called that, as they shared some similarities. However, the second story claims that the name was borrowed from the military ship HMS Blazer, whose crew (before the great standardization in the Royal Navy), on the captain's initiative, was dressed in elegant, navy blue jackets for the visit of Queen Victoria. The year would be 1825 for the first hypothesis, 1837 for the second - but neither is 100% certain.
I do not think we have to choose the more believable one - while it might have been a little easier to believe in the second, as it fits the diagram cited above better, it is alright for both of them to circulate. Maybe even both are at least partially true? Well, it doesn’t really matter now.
It’s time to finally focus on what is really important: the contemporary context. Outside the #menswear bubble, it happens that practically every jacket with metal buttons is called a blazer nowadays. A huge simplification, but not as bad as you might think. Quite good actually, if you think about the bigger
I have to mention that in a few articles here in Everyday Classic I went even further, proposing an informal use of the term to refer to any sportcoat which primary purpose is to be the most versatile jacket in a wardrobe. Of course, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you can see where I'm going with this, right?
In my opinion, the true purpose of a blazer is to be such an everyday jacket. One that goes well with everything. It should be either so simple (dark navy blue) or so strange (colorful, contrasting stripes) that it fits practically any pants, in every situation, sometimes gray flannels, sometimes washed, worn jeans.
So - now returning to my second thought from the beginning of the article - a good blazer can be both option a) and option b), but in the end the effect will be all the same.
It gets better: most often, a great classic blazer would be both a) and b) at the same time, never being something in-between - thanks to that extraordinary pairing of dark navy cloth that blends in and gold (or silver) buttons that stand out. It is simple, but also unusual. A perfect garment to look the same-but-different in a society!
And yes, I think it also qualifies as this seemingly-boring-but-enjoyable thing, if we are already referring to my ideas from the beginning. It is still a navy sportcoat, after all! And if you were not born in the USA and do not live here it should be perceived as such by all the people around you. The WASP, Ivy League etc. cultural context is not as widely recognized as you might think. So don’t worry, you will not be called a douchebag if you wear one, that’s a myth.
Summing up: just a year or two ago I would not recommend anyone buying such a jacket, but now I wholeheartedly do. I was just too sceptical before! Afraid of those metal buttons perhaps? Or maybe I was too focused on old Ivy images that told me I might not be the right person to wear it? Nevermind. Now I recognize my fear as a big mistake, as there is nothing to truly worry about, but a lot to be happy with. I changed my mind, call me a convert.
That is why I am very glad that such a classic blazer has now debuted in Poszetka’s offer - as a double-breasted (although I heard that a single-breasted version is also on its way, shhhhh) - I might have a good excuse to finally buy one. And you should, too. Because, simply put, it is just a great piece of clothing!
We also invite to read the entry about OCBD shirts, which is very related to the topic of discussed blazer. You can find it at the link below:
PS the photos show a model of a blazer with a Milanese buttonhole, the version we offer has a standard one.
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