With a universally flattering fit, sleek lines and a sharp, masculine look, a classic blazer is a staple in any man’s closet. Less formal than a suit jacket but still polished enough to wear to work or on a date, blazers come in a wide variety of colors, fabrics, fits, and textures so that you can achieve a range of different looks with them. The best part? A blazer can be dressed down or up, meaning you can easily take it from day to night, office to after party.
The only question is: What’s the best way to make a blazer work for the interview you’ve got at 10 a.m. and the date you’ve got this Friday night? In this guide, we’ll provide some foolproof tips on how to transition this timeless piece from the more casual occasions to the formal ones.
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Never Overlook Navy
While blazers are available in a plethora of colors, we say the most versatile hue is navy blue. Navy is the standby for a reason: It’s sophisticated looking and, like a neutral, it can work with just about any color or print. Try on a classic navy blazer and you’ll be amazed at how well it goes with many of the clothes you already own. Unlike a double-breasted cut, which has two rows of buttons and is inherently formal looking, a single-breasted blazer can be worn in a more casual fashion. Note that the material matters. A lightweight knit sport jacket is casual yet still sophisticated enough to take you from meetings to your after-work date. However, a stretch wool, cotton or linen blazer is equally versatile and a tad dressier.
You can’t go wrong with a navy blazer, especially when you pair it with a button-down shirt. As a general rule regarding button-downs, punchy colors and playful, eccentric patterns are better for the daytime. When you’re switching gears for nighttime, you can achieve a more polished and formal look with a solid button-down or one in a minimalist, classic print like plaid or gingham. Keep in mind that it’s all in the details. Blazers with metal or brass buttons will inherently have a slightly more polished look, meaning it will be easier to transition them from day to night.
Consider Denim to Dress Down
Is there any look that epitomizes effortlessly cool better than a blazer with jeans? This combination always manages to look sharp yet relaxed at the same time, regardless of the occasion. You can even make this look work for the office, depending on where you work.
It’s important to pair your blazer with the right kind of jeans. As a general rule, darker jeans with no distressing and a slim cut look best with a blazer. Grey jeans also look phenomenal with a blazer and can provide a little more contrast than deep blue denim. Layer a striped t-shirt under your blazer to add a pop of visual intrigue and then finish off the outfit with a pair of slip-on sneakers.
When you’re looking to transition, you can swap your jeans for a pair of chinos pants in khaki or grey. A grey blazer, meanwhile, pairs perfectly with blue chinos. If you’d rather keep the jeans on, simply swap your sneakers for a dressier shoe to elevate your look for nighttime.
Get a Playful Edge with a Polo
It goes without saying that men’s sport shirts always look sharp under a blazer. More and more, however, men are thinking outside the box and sporting a polo shirt or a polo shirt under their blazers. If you’re bold enough to try this look, keep in mind that a polo shirt or t-shirt looks best with a single-breasted cotton or linen blazer that’s less structured. The polo should be solid or have simple stripes to keep things from looking too busy. Jeans and boat shoes work nicely with the blazer-and-polo combo during the daytime and at night you can swap in a button-down and dress shoes. Pro tip: Since the polo collar might be prone to collapsing under the blazer, you can use collar stays to keep it upright inside the lapels.
Always Remember Accessories
It’s amazing what a few accessories can do in terms of taking your blazer from day to night. Add a touch of visual interest by tucking an eye-catching pocket square into the front pocket when transitioning to your evening affairs. A vibrant square with a playful print is always an excellent choice. You can also pop on a leather belt to lend a somewhat more sophisticated look. You can never go wrong with a timeless silk-blend tie with a geometric pattern, particularly when you’re seeking to impress clients at a dinner meeting. If your blazer features French cuffs, incorporating novelty cufflinks can instantly give your ensemble a bit more flair. Also, a stainless steel watch can give your ensemble a sophisticated edge, especially for professional events.
Find the Right Footwear
When wearing a blazer, the right shoes can make or break your look. During the daytime, don’t be afraid to wear your blazer with boat shoes, boots or even sneakers. Crisp canvas sneakers look sharp with a blazer and jeans in a dark wash, and they also give you a less serious look that’s perfect for casual occasions. Then, when you’re heading out to a networking event, dinner or another formal affair, you can swap out your kicks for some leather loafers or oxfords.
Whether you’ve got business matters to tend to or you’re having a couple of IPAs with your old college buddy, a blazer can be a great choice. Be sure that you choose a high-quality blazer that fits you flawlessly; The fit can make a massive difference in ensuring that you look put together and achieve a clean silhouette. Keep in mind that an unstructured blazer will have a more relaxed look while a structured blazer will have a sharper look that can transition more easily to classy occasions. Most importantly, remember that a blazer is a canvas for showing off your personal style, so don’t be afraid to take a risk with a fun tie or an unexpected pair of kicks.
Images by Suraj Nongmaithem for MMSCENE