I have always looked with relative indifference at a navy blue blazer with gold buttons. Yes, the truth is, it generated a certain rejection in me, I don't know if for fear of suffering a magpie attack, for reminding me of the suits from my First Communion, of Julio Iglesias or elderly gentlemen of the 90s with a belly and mustache. The blazer was a garment more victim of what others would say. Well, actually, it was the buttons. A bit too much of a contrast, especially if you were young and lived in Spain.
Writing about gold, mother of pearl, silver, pewter or brass buttons of a blazer is something like writing about the rivets on a jean. As a rule, they are things that are already intrinsic to the garment itself. A blazer without gold buttons is still a blazer, but it is also less of a blazer.
I have a friend who calls all jackets blazers. If I am careless, he also does it with me. Well, actually he pronounces it like blasier, something a bit strange because it is an English word, not French. The fact is, he says it with such integrity that you believe it; an extinct species of Parisian born in Jaén. He is such a friend that he is just another brother, but that doesn't mean that what he is doing is wrong. For example, a suit jacket is not a blazer, it is a suit jacket. It seems a truism, but whoever has not sinned may throw the first stone. Ditto for sport coats, often misclassified as blazers. Hopefully from today on out it will not be repeated.
A suit jacket is made as part of a set, and a blazer and sport coat for the opposite. Sport coats are born, as their name suggests, to "do sports." Country sports in the British countryside, to be exact. In other words, they were reserved for less formal occasions than a suit jacket, where the rural took on more prominence than the urban. But let's continue, a blazer is something else: not a suit jacket, not a sport coat.
Prince Charles in a navy blue blazer
In defense of my friend I will say that marketing, the world of retail, clothing firms and even British dictionaries themselves, do not make it easy at all. From what I've seen, it's almost better to not read anything at all, and thus not lead the confusion to a matter of mental derangement. Of course, do read Spiff, do it, for God's sake!
If what you are wearing has the following characteristics, it is a blazer. If not, it is not:
- It is an independent jacket, that is, it is not part of any set (suit jacket) and as a rule, it is worn with pants of a contrasting color, pattern or material.
- It is either a solid color (usually navy blue, although bottle green, white and red can be seen) or has striking stripes of vivid colors.
- It can have shields or badges, as well as edging or braiding.
- It comes in 6x2, 6x3, 8x3, or single-button crossover configurations with one to three buttons.
- It has buttons like those mentioned at the beginning of the post.
- The Hopsack, worsted or woolen flannel, for the more classic versions; cool or linen, warmer temperatures or climates.
Navy Double Breasted Blazer by Sartoria Dalcuore
History of the blazer:
It seems that the blazer splits from two origins. The first places it in the members of the Lady Margaret Boat Club (1825), and the red flannel jacket they wore. A very fiery red, or so they thought, hence the name blazer. Blazer from "blaze", makes sense! The club still exists and continues to maintain the same traditions. Although, yes, the golden buttons are only reserved for the most emblematic members. Blazer and elitism go hand in hand, and if you don't believe me, keep reading.
The second theory, and for yours truly, a more attractive one, although arising later than the previous one, takes us back to 1837, when Queen Victoria decided to carry out an inspection of one of the Royal Navy ships. The ship was called the HMS Blazer, and the Commander of the ship, in an effort to impress the Queen, would order new uniforms for his boys; a double breasted jacket with brass buttons from the Royal Navy. The idea was popular and until 1845 the sailors of the HMS Blazer continued to wear blue and white striped jackets.
The blazer today:
It seems that in 1889 the term "blazer" reached its current meaning; what we do not know is how. How it suddenly becomes part of the uniform of a multitude of schools and universities throughout the British Empire. If someone knows why, speak up, you can't live with this forbidden knowledge.
When I spoke of elitism it is because today's blazers, those of schoolchildren, universities and nautical sports clubs, aside from coming in a wide range of colors, always come with school badges and buttons. The more badges, the more popular the boy.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, in a navy blue blazer with gold buttons.
In the British Army and many of the Commonwealth Regimental Associations, they have their own blazers, which usually come complete with insignia, buttons and colors, which vary from association to association. Speaking of the Commonwealth, perhaps it was the recently deceased Prince Philip, may he rest in peace, who was guilty of venturing to give this garment a try. The string of photographs of him after his death has revealed to me a tremendously elegant and stylish character. A man who wore, like his son, the gold button blazer on numerous occasions.
The incipient trend of the garment in similar niches has been another trigger. Ralph Lauren has always been showing us blazers, and brands such as Sartoria Dalcuore, Husbands, Rubato, Blugiallo, Drake's or Samanamel, do the same today.