Wes DB 1

September 15th, 2014

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Some traditionalists will tell you that a “sportcoat” needs to have patch pockets, notch lapels and elbow patches – while a “blazer” must be navy blue, single-vented, and have gold or silver buttons.

Let’s not get bogged-down in definitions. In today’s menswear landscape a sportcoat/blazer/suit jacket is simply a garment with sleeves and lapels. It’s not that black and white.

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With that said, there are design elements to a suit jacket that can make it more versatile and appropriate to wear as a blazer. Wes showcases these details beautifully by including them on one of the most conservatively formal garments: the double-breasted suit.

First, the fabric should have some texture. I like basket-weaved hopsacks and seasonal fabrics like donegals and flannels, but here Wes keeps it ultra-versatile with a “year-round” birdseye worsted. Just a little roughness to the eye/hand to take away some of the sheen and “sleekness” of a traditional suiting fabric.

Secondly, the pocket style can make a big difference. Here Wes went with patch front pockets, which – in my opinion – are both more functional and versatile.

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Thirdly, consider an alteranative button. I wouldn’t wear shiny gold or silver on a suit, but I do have a couple with gunmetal and brushed brass. I also have a handful of suits with bold tortoiseshell buttons, which give the jacket a more “weekend blazer” feel.

Here Wes is rocking the white mother-of-pearl buttons, which make the jacket more playful and summer-y. He changes the buttons with the seasons and will be swapping them soon for a dark brown horn which is more Fall/Winter-appropriate (your tailor can do this for a few dollars).

Next, check out the the 1/4″ top-stitch. Rather than being pic-stitched by hand (creating delicate “dimples”) the lapels and pockets are machine stitched, creating a thread ditch that contours the edges. Just another little touch that makes the jacket a touch less elegant or formal.

This is not necessarily related to the topic, but check out the quality of that handmade Milanese buttonhole. This is often a tell-tale sign of quality handwork in a jacket. That buttonhole alone takes more than 45 minutes to sew by hand (as opposed to about 6 seconds on a machine).

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On another side-note, it may still be warm enough to go sockless, but you can start introducing some Fall-friendly suedes into your footwear line-up.

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