Fashion can mean many things to many people, but style is almost always a unique expression of someone’s personality executed in the simplest form possible.
Truly stylish guys find ways to look themselves whatever the occasion and do so in a way that appears effortless. With that in mind, we set ourselves a challenge: take one hero item of the male wardrobe – the unstructured navy blazer – and create a different look for each day of the week that any man could pull off.
Why the navy blue blazer? As you’ll see, this can be all the glue you need to bind many different elements of a wardrobe together and with minimal fuss. “It’s a truly traditional piece that’s been a part of man’s wardrobe for many, many years,” says British designer Oliver Spencer, whose collections often focus on contemporary tailoring styles (his Theobold jacket would be a solid choice for this very experiment). “It can be dressed up or down – it’s versatility is key to its existence,” he adds.
These looks are testament to that.
A Statement Start To The Week
After the downtime of the weekend (and the distinct possibility of a 48-hour hangover), it makes sense to launch into the working week looking and feeling smart. Doing so sets a good tone, provides you with the sartorial version of a kick up the backside and won’t go unnoticed by your colleagues.
This calls for the navy blazer’s long-time associate: the crisp white shirt. To this infallible partnership, add a tie. Yes, many offices are quite happy with the increasingly acceptable open collar look, but a tie shows purpose and good intent. The navy knitted variety will ensure you don’t stray onto overly corporate tracks.
Matching trousers – provided the blazer was part of a suit – are the obvious choice, but if you’re going for separates, opt for cotton chinos in a lighter tone of blue, grey, cream or 2017’s favourite: khaki green. All great options for a smart contemporary look.
Shoes should invariably be of the formal variety, but if you’re bored with Oxfords, change it up with some dark brown double monks.
Going With The Flow
As the nursery rhyme goes, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, and so it should be with the adult. You haven’t done quite enough work yet to warrant cracking out the designer sneakers and polo shirt, so this day calls for a more polished approach.
That said, you don’t have to be a slave to the shirt collar. Instead, swap it out for a fine-gauge roll neck that looks every bit as classy, but without the corporate connotations.
Bought in a breathable but insulating fabric such as merino wool, it’s a solid transitional piece for cooler summer days and warmer autumnal ones, too.
Provided you go for navy or dark tapered trousers, you can choose a bold colour to sit beneath your blazer. A khaki, tan or burnt orange roll neck looks great against darker or olive skin (providing it’s not too close in shade to the skin itself), while paler complexions are better suited to darker colours that create contrast like bottle green, burgundy and bolder shades of blue. For a catch-all, stick to a navy or charcoal knit and go bold with a pair of off-white chinos.
What you put on your feet will ultimately determine the formality. Dark brown or even oxblood Oxfords, Derbies and monk-straps guarantee a smart finish, while brogues, Chelsea boots, loafers and sneaker hybrids worn with a roll in the trousers suggest a much more creative personality. All of them still sit within the remit of a smart-casual office dress code.
Dressing For The Hump
To surmount the hump of the week requires a positive can-do attitude, otherwise time can pass all too slowly. Thankfully, that means loosening the reins on your work wardrobe and using the blazer as a formal counterpoint to a more casual approach to dressing. And that means jeans.
But before you go grabbing those never-been-washed 501s, wearing workwear to the officer still comes with its caveats.
Firstly, on the colour: if you’re going to go for blue jeans, steer well clear of the washed, treated, or distressed variety, which are simply too casual. Only the darkest indigo selvedge denim will do and gives you the option to build a smart tonal look with a navy shirt or polo. Jeans in hues of white and cream also work well when offset against the navy blazer.
Second point: the jeans must be tapered. Skinny-fit is a shrink wrap too far, but a nicely tapered leg creates a strong masculine silhouette.
The style and colour of the jeans will prompt your shoe choice, but given that it’s Wednesday, a leather tassel loafer or a suede Chelsea boot offers just the right balance of professionalism and cool.
Thursday is, without doubt, the best working day of the week for the simple reason that it is perfectly acceptable to go out for post-work drinks with careless abandon and glide through Friday with faux diligence emblazoned across your face (when all you really want to do is fall asleep in a toilet cubicle).
Thus, Thursday’s blazer look can adopt a more experimental, laissez-faire attitude, which in this case means relaxed or wide-leg (but never baggy) trousers.
They have been bubbling away for many a season now (well, actually since the 1920s), without quite taking off, but an unstructured navy blazer is the perfect accomplice to get away with this contemporary look.
Go for a pleated style that breaks low on the shoe for a smarter take, otherwise flat-fronted trousers with a couple of roll-ups thrown in – Nick Wooster-style – make for a very modern look.
Elsewhere, we suggest getting in early on upcoming tonal trend by going head-to-toe navy, using a simple white T-shirt and minimalist sneakers to break it up.
There’s also the option to swap out the sneakers for chunky-soled black brogues for the office during the day then slip on the kicks for after-hours.
In contrast to Thursday’s slightly hedonistic approach, the final working day requires a more considered look to bookend the week, while also being suitable for lunch and drinks with colleagues.
Suffice to say that the classic shirt collar is wonderfully remiss from Friday’s ensemble, but don’t rule out its casual cousin: the granddad collar, which is an easy way to dress down the blazer and smartens up a pair of cotton chinos in a pastel shade.
Ditch the socks and envelop your feet in a pair of suede loafers or driving shoes. The suede serves to add texture to the rest of the cotton hanging from you.
Given that the rest of this outfit is neutral in colour, you can afford to be bold with your shoe choice with either a contrast sole or design details.
The addition of a white pocket square is a nice touch if lunching somewhere swish, or hitting high-end hotel bars at cocktail hour, while a smart watch shows you’re still on the clock (for now).
The Sartorial Slouch
Come the weekend, many guys automatically disregard the navy blazer for fear of it looking too uniform or uptight for boozy brunches with friends, but they are missing a very stylish trick.
The weekend does indeed call for more relaxed and comfortable attire, but the addition of the blazer can elevate what would otherwise be a slouchy outfit into something quite imaginative and trend-led. We’re calling it the sartorial slouch and it’s a look that combines classic tailoring with street- and sportswear.
Pair the navy blazer with a T-shirt or sweatshirt in classic grey with sports-luxe navy joggers and clean leather hi-tops. This makes for a slick layered textural outfit and, above all else, it’s damn comfortable.
You can play around with this look, for example by swapping out the T-shirt for a granddad collar shirt or adding a gilet underneath the jacket in autumn, just always opt for premium materials to keep it tied together. Without the jacket, you’re just another weekend layabout. With it, suffice to say you’re a trail blazer.
How To Look After Your Blazer
Wearing anything for seven days straight is going to take its toll on the garment. And as the idea is for the blazer to look deconstructed, not decomposing, we spoke to Andy Savva, general manager of London’s most exclusive dry cleaners, Jeeves of Belgravia, to get his tips for keeping it fresh between wears.
Improve Your Hanger Game
Very few people consider this, but having the correct size hanger is vital. The ends must meet the seam where the jacket sleeve is attached to the body. Any shorter and it will stretch the drop of the shoulders, which then causes the blazer to lose its shape.
Body heat will generally rid the blazer of most soft creases, but after several days wear hard creases can develop, particularly around the elbow. These require a high-quality iron or steamer to relax the fibres.
Never attempt to actually iron the jacket, as the heat from the iron’s plate can cause all sorts of problems like glazing, shining, or flattening of the nap. Instead, hang the jacket up and gently apply steam from around six to eight inches away from the fabric.
Brush For Life
Any material with a raised fibre (i.e. most wools or cashmere) will respond well to a gentle going over with a soft brush at the end of every wear. Not only does this remove any debris collected during the day, but it also loosens the fibres, making them stand up again like when the jacket was first bought.
Trapped Air Is Your Friend
When storing a blazer, use polythene bags, but always leave them open at them bottom. Doing this traps air inside so there’s a cushion to prevent creasing, but also allows the garment to breathe. At Jeeves we always recommend you pack your suitcase with a polythene bag for the same reason. The other option is breathable garment covers.
Do The Dab
Never rub stains. Only ever dab at them with a clean damp cloth and allow the fabric to dry naturally. Be careful not to over-soak as this could create bigger problems such as water marks. If you feel like the stain is not going to come out, save yourself a headache and send it to a professional.