LADIES & GENTLEMEN: Here’s Why You Need a Great Classic Blazer

A Francis Cotes portrait of Admiral Harry Paulet ( metmuseum.org ), resplendent in gold-buttoned naval regalia. The modern blazer is a distant relative of 18th and 19th century British Royal Navy uniforms, its name believed to have been inspired by the frigate HMS  Blazer . 

A Francis Cotes portrait of Admiral Harry Paulet (metmuseum.org), resplendent in gold-buttoned naval regalia. The modern blazer is a distant relative of 18th and 19th century British Royal Navy uniforms, its name believed to have been inspired by the frigate HMS Blazer

The legendary men’s style author G. Bruce Boyer once wrote in The Rake magazine, “No question about it — easily dressed up or down, the perfect travel garment, the blazer is the most internationally civilised, adaptable, all-purpose and essential tailored item in a gentleman’s wardrobe.”

Per Mr. Boyer, the blazer is “the multipurpose jacket, at home in the boardroom or on board a yacht,” its greatest strength being the countless ways it can be styled.

Coupled with grey trousers, a crisp dress shirt and tie, and black oxfords, it is very much ‘the business’. Thrown on over chinos or jeans, with a polo shirt or OCBD (or even a plain t-shirt), the blazer jazzes up a casual ensemble, creating the perfect look for a weekend dinner. Rocked with a Breton stripe shirt, red pants and navy boat or driving shoes, it’s the epitome of Rivera chic. Sported with loafers, dark selvedge denim and a white shirt worn open-necked, the blazer forms the core of a tried-and-true uniform that will take you virtually anywhere.

The modern blazer is descended from British naval uniforms, hence the spiffy metal buttons and navy-blue hue that are key attributes of a quintessential blazer. For clients in sultry Singapore, our go-to cloth would be a lightweight Super 110s wool from Vitale Barberis Canonico’s Perennial collection. As for buttons, we offer an array from Benson & Clegg featuring a range of sporting, nautical, professional and military / nautical motifs, as well as plain gold or silver (some of which can be engraved for the ultimate in personalization).

To celebrate Singapore’s 200th birthday next year, why not have a blazer made with Bensons’ buttons [pictured here] carrying the crest of the British East India Company, Raffles’ employer when he founded the country in 1819?

VBC-Benson-and-clegg.jpg

Concluding that same Rake article mentioned earlier, Boyer wrote, “In these parlous economic times, when even the most capricious of fashionistas have come to accept that we should ‘buy less, but buy better’, the one garment inarguably worth springing for is a fine blazer.”

It’s not just men who’d do well to invest in this versatile staple, either. No woman should be without a sharply cut blazer — coupled with a skirt or slacks and a shirt, it’s a workday wonder; with a white tee, faded jeans and a Chanel 2.55, it’s the very picture of Parisian sophistication. Unlike many tailors, I’m equally adept cutting for women or men, so please do pay us a visit to discuss your blazer needs, ladies. 

Until next week, go out in a blazer glory…

—Kevin

How to look slimmer (without the inconvenience of exercise or dieting)

Hello friends. We all work hard and it’s only fair that we reward ourselves by indulging in the finer things in life. Unfortunately, hard work means we often don’t find enough time for exercise, and along with good food and wine, that has an impact on the waistline. Luckily, clever tailoring can help you maintain a relatively slim appearance, even if you have put on a bit of weight.
 
Of course, there’s a limit to what a tailor can achieve. We’re not plastic surgeons. We are more like magicians, directing the viewer’s focus and creating the illusion of a more svelte physique.
 
A highly effective tool is pinstripe-patterned cloth (like the Vitale Barberis Canonico pictured below), which will help give a sense of length and draw the eye along a vertical line. Pinstripe or plain, the stout should always wear darker colours. A big man in a white jacket? Forget it. It’s going to magnify him by 30 percent. The larger guy should avoid shiny cloth (go for a matte fabric, it’s more stylish anyway), and if he’s considering a check, make it a small, all-over pattern, like a fine glen plaid.

A grey pinstripe cloth (like this one, from VBC) will help visually slim you down.

A grey pinstripe cloth (like this one, from VBC) will help visually slim you down.

As for suit styling, be careful with patch pockets, they can broaden the hips. Inset pockets could be savvier. Contrary to common belief, double-breasted suits can actually be very flattering on the larger man. The person looking at you will focus on the buttons, rather than the silhouette of the jacket. It’s a visual effect, a diversion.
 
Don’t wear your clothing tight — that will just accentuate any bulges. Baggy trousers are a no-no, but a slightly roomier pleated pant (fastening at the natural waist) will be much more flattering than a flat front, where often the belly protrudes over the top. Not pretty.
 
Speaking of bulging bellies, I’m in Japan right now, appreciating the work of the country’s many artisanal craftspeople — and amazing chefs. After a few days of Japanese culinary indulgence, it might be high time to make myself a new charcoal pinstripe suit when I get back!
 
Until next week,
—Kevin
 
PS: Landing in Tokyo today, we were so honoured to see Kevin Seah Bespoke featured in The Rake Japan’s write-up on the Singapore sartorial scene. Order a copy of the new issue and take a look. Arigatou gozaimasu!