A Better Blue Blazer

If you read about classic men’s clothing as often as I do, you’ve probably heard the navy blazer described as “the best piece a man can own,” “the most versatile item in a man’s closet,” “worth investing in,” and with other overly simplistic catchphrases. Although I think that the traditional navy blazer configuration (with its with brass crest buttons and old-money-yacht-club connotations) can feel a bit dated today, I feel that a slightly updated jacket can be a fantastic garment to have in the rotation. It is indeed a versatile tool to have on hand, and since I love to focus on honing my wardrobe down to the bare essentials I decided to go custom and design the perfect navy blazer for my wardrobe.

For this project, I collaborated with my friends at Beckett & Robb to come up with a blazer that would be well suited for my lifestyle and for the mild California weather. The first big decision I had to make was selecting a fabric; I knew that I wanted something in pure wool with a bit of texture, preferably in that “a bit lighter than navy” shade of blue that is so universally appealing.

In my mind, a navy blazer’s fabric can take two forms – either a Fall/Winter style, made with something like flannel, or a warm-weather style that utilizes a lighter fabric like hopsack (other fabrics like serge and barathea are sometimes used, but they are less common). For this commission I was envisioning the latter, so I spent some time looking for fabrics that met these criteria and were within my budget. I was very impressed to discover that Beckett & Robb has a special relationship with Loro Piana that allows them to buy certain fabrics in bulk at a reduced price; because of this, they have a truly fantastic light navy hopsack available from the mill for only $865 (no small sum, to be sure, but a great price considering that we’re talking about a completely custom blazer made in Europe out of world-class fabric). With that decision behind me, the first step was complete.

Most of the following design decisions were relatively easy, as they were either dictated by the fabric choice or by the semi-formal nature of the garment. I wanted something that was rooted in tradition, but not too stuffy, something well-suited to the mild Californian weather, and also moderate in its level of formality. I chose a 3-roll-2 button stance, natural shoulders, patch hip pockets, and moderately wide notch lapels, all of which seemed to reflect the classic blazer configuration. I also opted for smoked mother-of-pearl buttons, which are a great option for warm-weather tailored clothing and are known to look exceptional on summery navy fabric. This jacket is also half-canvassed and half-lined, which gives it some structure while still utilizing the breathable nature of the fabric.

In terms of fit, I made several changes from my first commission –  I widened the shoulders and chest, changed the shape and placement of the sleeve, added to the lapel, and lowered the button stance. All of the changes were very small – less then half an inch – but together I think they make a big difference. I’ll post pictures of the blazer in use once I have an opportunity to take some. All told, the process was quite fun and I’m very pleased with the final result. I have no doubt that this blazer will get worn hard for years to come.

While I am on the subject – I wanted to briefly mention that I have teamed up with Beckett & Robb’s San Francisco store as a by-appointment consultant. I have enjoyed watching the brand grow here in San Francisco over the past year, and since business has been so busy for them I jumped at the opportunity to help out. It has been quite a bit of fun seeing another side of the clothing industry, and I feel like I’ve already learned much more about more something I thought I understood very well. I am not receiving any free products for any of this; I’m just treated like a regular employee.

if you live in the Bay Area and are interested in commissioning a blazer like this (or any other type of suit, trouser, or sportcoat), feel free to send me an email. I don’t expect that I will be discussing this partnership frequently here (as I like to keep my editorials fairly neutral), but I wanted to briefly disclose my affiliation and mention my availability to help readers try the company out for themselves.