By Jasper Lipton
Jasper's linen Camoshita blazer and worn-in APC jeans
The blazer-and-jeans is, seemingly, the achilles heel of men country-wide. It’s also a popular topic for sites that are interested in telling men how to dress. Wear a navy blazer with dark jeans! comes the cry. Add a white shirt for a classic look! they howl, froth bubbling from spittle-flecked lips. Well, they’re not totally wrong - but before we start, let’s not get caught up in semantics: this article applies to blazers, sport coats, and suit jackets.
To make things murkier, the fashion world has come up with a billion variations of this look; far, far more than can be explored here. So we’re going to stick to the stuff you’ll probably find recognizable, and once you’ve read this article, you can go peruse our WAYWT threads for inspiration that goes beyond the bounds of biz-cas (or just check out what Abasi Rosborough is doing if you want to see tailored wear for the future).
You want to look nice, right? Cool. But the first thing I want you to do is not picture jeans and a blazer as some kind of stand-in for a suit, or an odd jacket and trousers. This isn’t the time to floss that bespoke suit jacket - no, think of the casual blazer as light outerwear rather than tailored clothing. How you wear it is as important as what you wear. The right jacket will let you roll the sleeves up if you’re out for sangria, pop the collar if it’s a chilly night, and stuff your hands in the pockets (definitely do this). Psychological battles aside, there are still a couple of guidelines that’ll help you on your way.
- The Length: I can’t count the number of dudes I’ve seen wearing a traditionally-cut orphaned suit jacket with a pair of stonewashed jeans and some Allen Edmonds. All of these pieces are just fine separately, but please, never combine them. If you’re looking for a casual blazer, you want something a little bit shorter and a little bit snarkier than your courtroom best.
- The pattern: save your glen-plaids and in-your-face checks for the trousers. Solids and subdued patterns are the easiest to wear with denim. You’ll see people online singing the praises of brightly-colored, textured jackets paired with denim - but this depends on length and the attitude of the wearer more than the pattern itself.
- The texture: Here’s where you can have fun. Cotton is easy to work with, but don’t feel limited - wools and even tweeds (especially if the garment showcases further nods to the outdoors - perhaps a throat-latch or a half-belt) can look great with denim, too.
- The Denim: It does not have to be “dark.” And no, you may not wear a pink, striped shirt with contrasting cuff and collar linings (if you turn the cuffs back to show off the lining, your Styleforum membership will be revoked). Yes, you can wear your broken-in 501’s and moccasins along with a navy Brooks Brothers blazer, and we wish you well, but we’re not here to talk about you. And yes, wearing your brand new, ultra-crispy raw denim with a mercerized wool blazer does indeed look pretty weird.
Usually, slim works better than full - remember, jeans are not trousers, and this is a good time to wear those black jeans that have been lying in your closet. If they’re blue, they don’t have to be slubby, fancy things - again, a pair from Uniqlo or Levi’s will probably do you just fine.
- The Footwear: I am of the opinion that leather-soled shoes look strange with denim. The answer? Boots, boots, boots. Tweed jacket, faded jeans, and a pair of chukkas? Excellent. Slim blazer, black jeans, and sleek boots? Also a win. Plus, wearing boots makes you cool. And, like, interesting, I guess. If you are a Really Cool Guy you can wear sneakers, too.
Italian RTW brands work for this - Boglioli is a good place to start, and offers a sort of playboy-on-safari-slash-yacht look that manages not to come across as too stuck-up - and they make a huge range of jackets in easy-wearing cottons.
Workwear brands are also a solid bet - Engineered Garments and Ts(S) excel at the casual blazer, but even a place like Uniqlo is a decent place to pick up a workhorse of a jacket.
Finally, look to the Belgians for more ideas. Maison Margiela (yes, Marty got dropped), Raf Simons, Walter van Beirendonck, and Dries van Noten all offer jackets that you may enjoy.
Even if you follow the admittedly vague guidelines above, this is, plain and simple, one of those situations in which “personal style” - heavy scare quotes - becomes (un)fortunately and inextricably involved. If you want fire-and-forget, buy the suit and ignore the jeans. If not, you’ll have to come up with your own personal touches and see what happens - thankfully, that’s what Styleforum is for. And so, in some ways, the best I can do is point you towards these varied examples of blazer-and-jeans done right. You'll note that very few of them have anything to do with what I've written. Best of luck, adventurer, and may the stars watch over your path.
@NOBD proves the exception to the rule
@brad-t, I guess wearing what could be called a blazer and jeans?
@kgfan5 takes Ivy - and ignores it
@RegisDB9 in Maison Martin Margiela