What makes a blazer?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Kaplan, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    Does it have to have metal buttons to be accurately called a blazer?

    Would you call a navy jacket with white (MOP or horn) buttons a blazer? What if you changed the buttons to brown or blue horn?

    ***

    Somewhat related question, do you find that people outside teh forumz regularly knows and uses the term 'sports jacket'?
     
  2. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Goon member

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    What makes a blazer a suit?

    The answer?

    Matching office pants.


    - B
     
  3. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    Thanks.

    I knew it had to be something simple like this.
     
  4. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Does it have to have metal buttons to be accurately called a blazer?

    Would you call a navy jacket with white (MOP or horn) buttons a blazer? What if you changed the buttons to brown or blue horn?


    With MOP buttons, I'd still call it a blazer, with horn buttons it would be a sport coat. I am not sure I could give you an exact rationale for this distinction. It just seems sort of intuitive.

    Yes, I have heard this item of apparel called a "sports jacket" or "sport coat" all my fairly long life...at least since I was old enough to be cognizant of such matters. I think the practice of calling any odd jacket, e.g., a heavy tweed sport coat, a "blazer" is of fairly recent vintage and may be an Americanism.
     
  5. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    With MOP buttons, I'd still call it a blazer, with horn buttons it would be a sport coat. I am not sure I could give you an exact rationale for this distinction. It just seems sort of intuitive.
    This would be my guess as well. It seems that the degree of contrast between cloth and buttons has a lot to do with whether it should be called a blazer or a sports jacket - to the extent that swapping the buttons will shift the category.

    Maybe Manton's BlazerSuit would be more accurately named a SportSuit? (If it's made up with navy cloth and brown buttons, e.g.)

    I think the practice of calling any odd jacket, e.g., a heavy tweed sport coat, a "blazer" is of fairly recent vintage and may be an Americanism.
    Definitely not an Americanism only. Here (in Denmark) most people - including most sales assistants - call any odd jacket a blazer.

    But when not even Vox knows a precise definition, I guess I can understand the confusion [​IMG]

    Hopefully someone will be along to help out.
     
  6. wrenhunter

    wrenhunter Senior member

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    A blazer is a jacket of one color (e.g. a navy blazer). A sport-coat is a jacket with patterns or multiple colors. The type of button is irrelevant.
     
  7. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    A blazer is a jacket of one color (e.g. a navy blazer). A sport-coat is a jacket with patterns or multiple colors. The type of button is irrelevant.

    So you're saying that a blazer can't be striped and that a sports jacket can't be solid?
     
  8. Sator

    Sator Senior member

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    A blazer is stictly speaking a single breasted coat with bright school or team colours. These are often in bright coloured stripes: [​IMG] The blazing colours made it a "blazer". If the coat is solid it can have a contrast decorative edge. The crew members of HMS Blazer (from which the blazer is also said to have originated) also wore striped tunics. Over the years some schools and clubs took to having plain dark coloured (eg navy) coats but added other sporting details eg a club insignia patch, or club guilt buttons. If you want to see a blazer suit in this style see here: http://www.cutterandtailor.com/forum...?showtopic=534 The term has now sadly degenerated to mean any odd jacket.
     
  9. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Goon member

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    But when not even Vox knows a precise definition, I guess I can understand the confusion [​IMG]

    Precision is impossible because the class of odd jackets we generally know as "blazers" in the contemporary sense have two sources.

    One is naval and is related to reefer jackets. These were typically double breasted with metal buttons.

    The other is sporting and is related to boating club and regatta jackets. These were usually single breasted with metal buttons. Typically these had broad vertical stripes, although some, including the presumed originals from this genre for the Lady Margaret Hall Boat Club were solid in bright...i.e., blazing...colors.

    Both originals feature buttons with insignia, which were typically shanked metal buttons, often gilt.

    Insignia buttons were common on other types of clothes, like the Beaufort Hunt buttons on this DoW dinner suit:

    [​IMG]

    Overall, given the dual origins of the "blazer," what both had in common were buttons featuring insignias...so, I would not call a odd jacket without such buttons a "blazer" myself. Neither would I, however, presume to waste time "correcting" someone who did.


    - B
     
  10. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Goon member

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    Over the years some schools and clubs took to having plain dark coloured (eg navy) coats but added other sporting details eg a club insignia patch, or club guilt buttons.

    A wonderfully evocative typo.


    - B
     
  11. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    ^ Sator, thank you for posting that link.

    I knew about the original stripey blazers, and it seems clear that a great deal of the uncertainty about what defines a blazer today stems from the fact that the expression has evolved over time, so depending on what you know about it's history, it will mean different things to different people.
    Precision is impossible because the class of odd jackets we generally know as "blazers" in the contemporary sense have two sources.
    I just saw this after I had written the above.
    The term has now sadly degenerated to mean any odd jacket.
    I find it kind of sad too. Obviously the language is ever changing but this just seems like a setback more than a positive evolution, making it harder to describe what you're looking for, etc.
     
  12. bowtielover

    bowtielover Senior member

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    Simple solid colors, black, navy, charcoal perhaps. Also gold, brass or silver buttons. Anything else is just a suit coat or sport coat, not a blazer.
     
  13. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    B is for blue and blazer. I question the value of any further analysis.
     
  14. Sator

    Sator Senior member

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    An example of the proper useage of the term "blazer". In this case the blazing colour is a bright green on a single breasted coat, and there is a club patch as well. Tiger Woods being bequeathed his Master's blazer: [​IMG] [​IMG] Oddly enough nobody seems to complain that it isn't blue, let alone that it is single breasted.
     
  15. Shikar

    Shikar Senior member

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    Thanks for this informative thread. I appreciate it.

    Regards.
     

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