Men wear fewer suits today, as we all know. But they retain the need for a jacket, if only to appear smart or professional.

Two of my friends, a doctor and a teacher, are particular examples. Their jobs do not require them to wear a suit, yet a jacket is very useful to have on the back of the chair (or, better, on a hanger on the door), to be put on for a meeting or consultation.

They do not know what this jacket should be. The materials are unfamiliar and the possible retail locations unknown. Men in their position often end up wearing either a suit jacket (shudder) or a tweed jacket (perhaps not smart enough).

Here is my advice.

The classic solution would be a navy blazer. Without gold buttons (dark blue or dark brown instead) and made out of a soft, pliable cloth like cashmere, lambswool or angora, or in a supple weave like hopsack.

Suit jackets are made from wool that has been treated (worsted) to make it smooth and sharp. It is too smooth and sharp to go with the cotton of your khakis, jeans or moleskin trousers.

Navy is the smartest colour, but it is too formal for some people’s needs. It is also less versatile, not quite making the transition from office to pub. For these men, the colours they should look for are light grey and brown. In the same soft cloths, perhaps with a herringbone pattern or Donegal tweed (the spotty one) to give some surface interest.

So where do you get one? If you can afford it, go to a tailor. After all, as you are only getting a jacket, the price will be about a third less than a suit. At Graham Browne you’d be talking around £600.

If you can’t afford a tailor, Ralph Lauren is the default choice. I have a beautiful, pale-grey camelhair model from there that has only got better with age. Then try Brooks Brothers, Brioni or Kiton. Trunk Clothiers stocks the best range of casual jackets from brands like Piombo, Aspesi and Caruso. And designers like Gucci and YSl do good unlined versions. Among the best of British are Paul Smith and Dunhill.

Go to a tailor if you can though. Take a look through Harrisons’ Moonbeam bunch and have something made with patch pockets, a half lining and variegated horn buttons.

Combination at top courtesy of Brunello Cucinelli
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Foonyor

Hi Simon,

You read my mind…as an academic I rarely wear suits but frequently need a good blazer. I actually have an appointment with Graham Browne tomorrow morning, and this post gave me just the reinforcement I needed that I’m making the right choice!

You hit the nail on the head! I complain routinely to my wife about many of our male colleagues at the small university where we teach, who sorely need a nice blazer or two. It would make them look a bit more presentable to say the least.

Best Regards,

Ulrich von B.

SJ

Hi Simon,

I’m curious about integrating a blazer into my work wear, but I’m a bit unclear on the do’s and don’ts in terms of matching (or not) blazers with trousers.

I generally wear a shirt (plain white or blue) and tie, and grey or black wool slacks, with a cashmere pullover or cardigan on cooler days. What colour blazer(s) could work in place of the pullover/cardigan?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Anonymous

Simon,

Why no gold buttons on the navy blazer? I always thought it was a traditinal and classy look?

Thanks,

Jonathan

Giovanni M

Hi,
You read my mind, too. I was just thinking of buying a blazer. Thanks for the advices!

Regards

Anonymous

i find it unnecessary to advise a person on getting a single jacket. if they can’t even determine that basic thing of manhood, they should just ask their wife or mom to buy it for them (i do not say partner as i suspect a homosexual would have at least some modicum of taste). either way, they wouldn’t know how to wear it properly even if it was a bespoke number.

Sean

I agree wholeheartedly. As a student, I never have a reason to wear suits and ties, but as an American with a deep interest and love of British tailoring, that does not stop me. However, I find it far more practical to wear a blue blazer (or sport coats of various colors) and trousers during the school week and on the weekend, as they provide the look I am going for while allowing one to be able to wear trousers that can be laundered after each wear (I prefer cotton trousers and a wool blend that I found a few years ago). But I must add, as someone who uses Blazers multiple times a week, I recommend having at least two, as I have worn out (as in, large rips and wholes in fabric, in places like the sleeves and the back) at least two, if not three, Blue blazers,

Anonymous

Sean – a student wearing a blazer? Surely not. You’d look and sound like Michael J Fox from Family Ties talking about Republican trickle-down economics.

Melissa

Mr. Crompton,

Can you elaborate on two areas for me? First, why do you prefer horn buttons? Second, what are the benefits of a half-lining? Does it affect longevity? Furthermore, as for buttons, how dark should they be on Navy hopsack:

Like this:
http://grunwald-true-style.com/Clothes-Care/Brown-Horn-Buttons-for-Suits-and-Sports-Jackets.html

Or darker, closer to this:
http://grunwald-true-style.com/Clothes-Care/Dark-Brown-Horn-Buttons-for-Suits.html

Thanks again so much

Anonymous

Hi Simon I made my first visit to a tailor, probably in no small part to reading your blog! I seemed to be ok in discussing most aspects of what I was after, apart from in perhaps the key area of selecting a cloth. The bewildering number of choices put me a state of utter confusion and my lack of knowledge on different types of wool was woefully exposed ..I found it difficult to imagine the small square of cloth on a jacket and judge how heavy it would feel. Would you be able to guide me to any resources or perhaps a previous posting of your on this site which I may have missed? To be perfectly honest I don’t really even understand the system of 120s vs 130s vs 150s properly and whether it refers to a yarn count or weight? I have also read people refer to weight such as 11gramms vs 15 Gramms and so on which I find confusing as how much c,oth is this a measure of ? Thanks Micheal

Anonymous

Thanks Simon, I think this area has the capacity t be a real minefield for a novice coming into bespoke or made to measure tailoring, if you did decide to do a piece on it I think it would be very much appreciated by guys like me who want to engage in decision making with a tailor and make informed choices.

Your above response clarifies a lot and is very helpful, out of curiosity the weight of the cloth in ounces is measured against a certain area of fabric?

One other issue with the cloth was were the tailor was talking about hopsack material? Is this the way the material is actually woven to crate a textured matt fabric as compared t worsted which is flat stranded fabric? Are there more categories which I should be aware of?

Jeremy

Hi Simon,

Many thanks for this post; it’s made me realise that this is the piece I’ve been missing to properly dress up a casual outfit.

One thing I’d like to ask: does it matter if the blazer is lined/structured? I’ve been in the shops looking at navy blazers and all of them at the minute seem to be a similar affair: just a cotton shell, unlined, no structure to the shoulders or chest. Is this is the sort of thing I should be looking at or are they a bit too casual? Would something canvassed and lined be more appropriate for more situations.

Many thanks.

Jeremy

Thanks. Do you think that wearing it with a shirt and tie, but with jeans on the bottom as is shown in the picture at the top, works well? Or is a tie too formal with the jeans? I like the look but don’t know whether I could ‘pull it off’ as they say. I also really like the shot at the top of this post from Trunk, and that seems to be uncanvassed too: http://www.permanentstyle.com/2012/07/reader-question-what-should-i-buy-in.html

Anonymous

Simon,

Do you think the suggested Navy hopsack jacket above (although not with patch pockets) can go with a pair of heavy grey flannel trousers. I’m talking 390-420 gram flannel?

Lee

Simon,

A fantastic blog, and I’ve been an avid reader for some time now.

A blazer question. I have a standard week day uniform – jacket, shirt, tie, jumper/cardigan and jeans.

My two blazers are a mid grey flannel and a navy cotton (fully lined and structured). Recently I’m thinking perhaps I shouldn’t wear cotton in autumn/winter, and should add a navy hopsack version. Do you agree or as the look is sharp but informal, can cotton (if it keeps me warm used in a layered look) work all year round?

Anonymous

hi simon, ive been re-reading some of your articles as i go through the process of building out my wardrobe ..

you mentioned harrisons moonbeam bunch .. 10/11 oz lambswool/angora mix seems like it may be a little delicate (esp the angora part), any experience with this cloth and how it holds up to wear and tear?

Andy

Anonymous

I like the jacket/blazer in the lead photo do you mind if i ask who made it?

Anonymous

thank you simon

Anonymous

Also i hope you don’t mind me adding this comment, the blog is a treasure trove of great advice and information, however i find navigating around it somewhat tricky. It would be great to have the basics of mans wardrove in a different section or ebook/book/app, I would happily pay for such a reference. This isn’t meant as criticism it’s a problem i find with Blogger vs other blog platforms generally.

Chi Ho

Hi Simon,
How about moonbeam 36682 or porter and harding thornprooof. Which one is better to make a smart casual jacket ? (as I always wear chino and jeans only)
Really Thanks your advice.

FR

Simon,
I already own a navy sportcoat. Unfortunately it is, probably a suit jacket ( i bought some year ago when I was less educated) because it has a smooth surface and in-tone buttons. I switched the buttons with mop and I use it as a winter sportcoat. It’s not ideal but it is decent.
Anyway, I’m going to commission an odd jacket to my tailor. I live in Italy and I’m interested in a soft shoulder,lightweight, unlined jacket for the summer. I talked with my tailor about hopsack and he likes it.
My questions are:
– is hopsack smart enough for the office and casual enough for the weekends?
– Which trousers are smart enough either for the office or for spare time? I don’t see cotton chinos suited for the office.

Enzo

Hi Simon
I’m looking around for a versatile jacket, something i can wear with flannel trouser and cotton trouser and something I can wear casually and at the office.
I was thinking about a navy jacket with patch pockets ( but welted breast pocket, patch breast is not my thing) in hopsack.
How would you rate this jacket in term of versatility?

Enzo

the colour will be a medium navy and also with mop ( or horn, i must decide) buttons.
Also, better to opt for patch pockets for an odd jacket? Flap pockets seem to me too suit jacket.

Enzo

do you think having welted breast pocket is incongruent with patch pockets?

jon

Hi Simon just stumbled across the aspesi website. Do you have any knowledge about their attire? Regards

jon

Hi Simon just stumbled across the aspesi website. Do you have any knowledge of their garments? Regards

Martin

Hi Simon. Im planning to make my first bespoke navy sport coat with Solito. I wonder what kind of weave you woud reccomand me? Woud it work good with a navy herringbone or birdseye or shoud i just go for a plain hopsack?

Marcus Lagerkvist

Hi Simon. Usually don’t wear jackets at the office or in the weekend. Anyways getting my first sport jacket from a bespoke tailor. I’m looking for something casual, a fabric with structure and was thinking a blue navy in flannel with patch pockets, but reading your recommendations maybe a grey one will be even less casual. I found some great fabric at FOX, for example herringbone and hopsack flannel ranging from 12-18 oz. Can you give any insight here? In regards to durability and weight. I live in Scandinavia so the climate is cool. What other fabrics should I be looking at?

Arthur

Dear Simon

I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I’d like to buy my first navy blazer. With regard to the fabric, I was wondering if hopsack would be a good choice in your opinion? Is 350gr to heavy to be a good all rounder? It’s not intended for really Hot Summer days, but only for spring, autumn and winter in Belgium.

Also, will hopsack be sufficiently durable? I’m looking for something that will last for some time.

Other recommendations with regards to fabric? I’ve ruled out wosted wool.

Thank you so much
Regards
Arthur

Arthur

Dear Simon. Today I went to the Scabal store in Brussels to have a look at some fabrics. I asked them for the lambswool and cashmere fabrics but I got lost in too many options. Also, this was the third mtm-shop in Brussels that guided me towards worsted wool for my blazer, even after I said them that is definitely not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the type of wool/cashmere fabric that you chose for your Solito jacket (featuring in your superb ‘levels of formality’-post). Could you tell what kind of weave I have to look for to get that rougher look from you Solito jacket? I can’t seem to find a salesmen that understands what I’m looking for.

Best regards
Arthur

Arthur

I’ve expressed myself badly (english is not my mother tongue); with rough I meant the look of the fabric (compared to worsted), but not the feel. But I should thus be looking for plain weaves if I understand correctly? Have a good weekend Simon, kind regards, Arthur.

Alex

On the topic of blazer button colour, I’ve got a cashmere navy SB with mother of pearl buttons. They still seem a bit showy for me in my late 20s (like you say of brass), and I was considering replacing with mid-brown horn. Do you have any thoughts? (I guess that MOP blazers are rarer and that I might regret it.) Thanks.

Dan

Hi Simon,

Last week, I commissioned a navy blazer from Huntsman, in a durable cloth with gunmetal buttons. I’m assuming button colors can be changed during the course of the process, but does my choice of button colors (instead of gold) inherently alter the character of the garment? i.e. makes it less versatile, authentic, formal, etc. ?