Think of the term ‘wardrobe essential’ and chances are the navy blazer isn’t far from the top of the list. The classic piece of tailoring has long been one of the most versatile items you can own. It’s perfect for business-casual office wear, will be your plus one at any wedding, and can be dressed down for a weekend party or up for a fancy dinner date.
Navy suits virtually every skin tone and can be worn with practically any other colour you can think of, from tan and stone to deep greens and browns.
Is there anything the navy blazer can’t do? Go for the right one, which fits your body well and in a fabric that works year-round, and there won’t be a more valuable addition to your wardrobe.
Here’s what you need to look out for when buying your own, and the brands making our favourite versions right now.
The fabric you choose can drastically change the look and feel of a navy blazer. In fact, it should be the first thing you nail down in your search.
Start with thinking about when in the year you plan to wear it. Do you need something slightly warmer and thicker you can wear throughout the autumn and winter months? Or are you after a lightweight, breathable jacket to accompany you through summer?
If warmth is a priority, you naturally want to be looking at heavyweight fabrics like herringbone wool, flannel, cotton twill or cashmere blends. For something more breezy, seek out lighter cotton and linen blends, which let in more air and won’t weigh you down in the heat.
Each fabric has a unique texture too. For a smarter jacket, stick to ‘flatter’ worsted wools, which give off a more professional, business-like appearance. For a more laid-back look, textural fibres (think boiled wool, flannel, even knitted takes) with distinct weaves offer a more relaxed, casual feel.
As always with tailoring, fit is king. And while fit is somewhat subjective, there are some key points to consider, especially if you want a classically tailored piece as opposed to something more trend-led and contemporary.
Always start with the shoulders, which should hug your own and end at the point where your shoulder does. The width of the jacket is not something a tailor can fix for you, so it’s imperative you get this right above all else. The hem should sit just beyond the edge of your shoulder, allowing for the sleeves to fall naturally and straight down.
Speaking of sleeves, the cuff should allow for an inch or so of shirt sleeve to peek out, ending just before your wrist does.
The jacket itself shouldn’t be cut too slim through the chest or mid-section. There should be no pulling at the buttons when the jacket is done up, nor should there be any wrinkling of the fabric across the back of the jacket. Look to buy a jacket which shapes your body rather than dictates it, and ensure you have a bit of room to play with.
When buttoned up, you should be able to pull the buttons a few inches away from your middle, which signals the jacket has enough room for you to move in. The jacket’s hem should also end just beneath your behind, covering it entirely.
Style naturally plays a big part in the kind of blazer you go for. There are endless combinations – single-breasted or double-breasted, notch lapel or peak lapel, single-vented or double-vented – as well as lapel width, number of buttons and pocket styles and lining variations to consider.
If in doubt, keep it simple. For a classic, easy-to-wear jacket, go for a single-breasted design with notch lapels, double vents and patch pockets. The notch lapels and patch pockets are more laid back than peak lapels and jetted pockets, while a single-breasted front is easier to dress down than the more formal double-breasted cut.
In short, you should probably try a few on before you buy. That way you can find a style you like and which will work as part of your existing wardrobe.
The best brands for navy blazers
Polo Ralph Lauren
Drawing from a long history of both British and American tailoring, Polo Ralph Lauren makes some of the best-fitting, best-made tailoring you’ll find anywhere.
The navy blazer is a staple of its range, with fabrics ranging from pique cotton to smarter herringbone wool.
For navy blazers on a budget, Uniqlo is the one. Expect accessibly priced designs which are usually unstructured and cut from soft cottons and wool blends.
R.M.Williams’ boots are among the best in the world, but its clothing shouldn’t be slept on. Much like its rugged outdoor footwear, the brand’s navy blazers fall on the laid-back end of the spectrum, with soft constructions and comfortable, durable fabrics.
Charles Tyrwhitt’s shirting is both well-designed and affordable, and so it goes with its tailoring. Covering both the sharper and more casual ends of the market, expect fabrics from the world’s leading mills, as well as classic cuts and detailing.
What started out as a purveyor of knitted polos and embroidered tees, Percival’s range now spans the entire wardrobe, from tailored trousers through to blazers.
Folk’s minimal design aesthetic runs throughout its range, from its boxy short-sleeve shirts to its soft tailoring. For effortless, easy-to-wear garments it’s difficult to go wrong here.
Private White VC
Based in Manchester and producing everything in its own factory, Private White VC is one of Britain’s greatest clothing exports in recent years.
The brand’s blazers are fastidiously made by its skilled craftspeople, using soft, comfortable fabrics that are designed to stand the test of time.
Taking its tailoring heritage and infusing it with contemporary design touches, Oliver Brown is renowned for its exceptional quality and attention to detail.
The brand stocks a range of navy blazers, from seriously sharp formal styles through to more laid-back, unstructured takes.
One of the original disruptors of Savile Row, Richard James has long been the choice of those who want traditional British tailoring with a modern twist.
The brand’s house style is fairly soft, with light padding and a flattering tailored fit that is neither too slim nor too relaxed.
For the lightest unstructured blazer, Thom Sweeney is among the finest there is. The British house is well known for its Neopolitan take on tailoring, with its navy blazers featuring featherweight constructions and the softest cotton and wool fabrics around.