There’s a reason the humble blazer has survived nearly two centuries.
The term “blazer” appeared in the London Daily News in 1889, but its history dates back even further to 1825. The bright red jacket worn by the rowing club of St John’s College became known as a “blazer”. The term was later adopted to describe the colored flannel coats worn for cricket, tennis, and boating.
It has since evolved and today the blazer is one of the most versatile additions to any man’s wardrobe.
It can be worn with just about anything, from a tee-shirt, polo, or button-down with tie… to khaki’s, chino’s and even well-fitted jeans.
Is there an easier way to completely change your confidence and look? A blazer can be thrown on as you walk out the door, transforming you from everyday man, to someone who commands attention.
The blazer is a key component that will last you for years, so it’s worth paying special attention to quality fabric, stitching, and of course… a proper fit.
How Should a Blazer Fit?
Here are some general guidelines to follow when fitting a blazer. Depending on your body type, and the look you’re trying to achieve, feel free to play around with these proportions.
Starting at the top, your blazer should rest comfortably against your shirt collar, which should rest comfortably on your neck. You should not feel any pressure pulling down or forward. If you get bunching, or a gap between your shirt and jacket, you may want to try one that’s slightly smaller.
When fitting your blazer, the shoulders are critical. A tailor can correct most things, but adjusting the shoulders comes at a price that would cover the cost of a new jacket. If you must make sacrifices, make them somewhere else (sleeve length for example). Walk away if the shoulders do not fit.
Square shoulders need less padding, and the width from seam to seam should be in line with the width of your shoulders.
If you have rounded shoulders, you may opt for more padding, but make sure it does not extend beyond the natural drape of your arms, and avoid excessive peaks when your arms are lifted.
A jacket that’s tight in the shoulders is easy to feel, but one that’s oversized is not so obvious. If you can grab excess material, or there is a divot between your shoulder and the padding, try on something different.
Back and Chest
Obviously, when you reach forward or lean over, you don’t want your blazer splitting apart like you’re the Hulk. Snug, so the natural curve of your back is visible is what you’re going for… but not so snug that you can’t breathe.
In the front, your lapels should sit flat against your chest and not buckle outward (too big) or pull on the back of your neck (too small).
With the top button fastened, try to fit at least 3 fingers between you and your blazer. If you can fit more than three fingers, there’s a good chance it will appear baggy and you’ll lose the natural V-shape.
On the other hand, if you need to suck in your stomach, or the button pulls in creating an X, it’s too tight.
Unlike your shoulders, alterations to the midsection are relatively simple. A tailor can tighten up the sides to pull the midsection in, but keep in mind, it’s easier to adjust one that’s too big rather than one that’s too small.
Some might say the top button should be in line, or at most, no more than an inch above your belly-button. Perhaps they have really high belly-buttons. A better fit would be to get the second button near your naval, or slightly below.
To be safe, with your arms at your side, your elbows should fall between the top and bottom buttons (on a 2-buttoned blazer).
Your arms should move comfortably and the natural bend of your arm should be visible. Arm holes should be snug, but not cutting in. If you can’t get your arms above your head, or it feels like the seams are about to burst, this is not the jacket for you.
Sleeve length begins at the shoulders, so make sure the rest of your blazer fits properly first. If you must sacrifice one area to a tailor, this is it. Not only is it one of the easiest to correct (provided the sleeves are not too short), altering sleeve length won’t affect other areas of your jacket.
The perfect length allows a ¼ to ½ inch (but no more) of your shirt sleeve to peek out.
If you’re wearing a tee-shirt or polo, with your wrist bent and palms face down (parallel to the floor), your blazer sleeve should sit roughly a quarter inch above the top of your hand.
Overall length is all about proportion. In general, your blazer should just cover your backside, and with your arms at your side, should fall between the top and middle of your thumb.
However, we’re all built differently. If your legs are longer than your torso, a jacket that reaches a little lower can help maintain proportions, and vice-versa. If you’re legs are on the shorter side, your blazer should be slightly shorter as well. Aim to make the bottom of your blazer your mid-point.
Although it's important to know how a blazer should fit… at the end of the day, you must be comfortable. A fitted blazer is one of the best wardrobe investments you can make. It’s the simplest way to achieve that “put-together” look. It can take your day look into the night, and it will get you through multiple occasions, whether it’s just a playful night out, a casual get-together, or a semi-formal event.
Special thanks to Canali for use of their images for this guide. Canali was founded in 1934 by brothers Giacomo and Giovanni Canali, and is today a third-generation run family business. Known (among other things) for their classic Kei and Seersucker blazers, you can find Canali in more than 100 countries.
Please share your thoughts, comments and ideas below. Do you have any tips or tricks when fitting a blazer?
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