Sail Into Summer
The blazer is an iconic piece of tailored clothing that has lasted from the 19th century and is still relevant in the 21st century. In fact, it is probably more relevant today as it suitable for wear in the boardroom or any occasion where “smart casual” is required. Of course, we are talking about the ubiquitous solid navy blue blazer and not its rakish cousin, the striped boating jacket. The striped boating blazer, also known as a “Regatta” or “Henley” blazer also has a 19th century provenance but is not as commonly seen. But this only adds to the garment’s charm.
New & Lingwood of Eton and St James’s are famous for their seasonal striped jackets and the SS18 collection looks like a vintage year. They are styled in a traditional three-button style with side patch pockets and are half-lined for comfort in warmer weather. They are beautiful pieces of tailoring and are great for wearing at summer sporting occasions such as tennis or cricket matches and, of course, at regattas such as Henley but they are probably more versatile than you may think and can be worn in all sorts of social occasions.
At Henley, they are usually styled with cream flannels and a cravat but add a linen shirt and some loafers and you have the perfect outfit for a trip to, perhaps, the south of France. The perfect style of the “Englishman abroad” with a British twist on Riviera dressing. A more formal take on this could be the answer to what to wear to that overseas wedding you’ve been invited to? Morning dress would be incongruous and your navy lounge suit a little too business like. You can add a double-breasted waistcoat, a cutaway collared shirt and woven tie and you have the perfect degree of formality for a more relaxed ceremony. If there were ever an occasion to wear a pair of Co-Respondents-this is it!
But a Henley blazer can also work in more urban situations. Keep the outfit simple with a plain crew neck sweater and cotton slim-leg trousers and you are perfect for a weekend brunch with friends-think Patrick MacGoohan in Prisoner. For slightly smarter dining, add a button-down collared shirt and a knitted tie for a contemporary take on the 1960s “mod” look. This style was adopted by mods, who were inspired by the Ivy League prep style, which in turn was influenced by the upper-class style of pre-war England. If this suits your personal style, add a simply folded white linen pocket handkerchief, some well-polished penny loafers and some bright red socks. The right attitude is a must, the Lambretta is optional. Of course, the key to wearing the boating blazer with style is confidence. Learn to throw it on as you would your navy jacket over whatever you are wearing. Don’t be too prissy about it. They are designed to get a little wet with English summer weather and outdoor picnics. They look great a little worn-in and will be “borrowed” by sons, nephews and nieces of future generations who will give them a new lease of life. You will soon wonder how your wardrobe survived without one.
Finally, for the sartorially adventurous, may I suggest wearing your boating blazer as an ersatz cocktail jacket to a festive black tie event. The black taping on the collar of the New & Lingwood jacket gives it a slight nod to formality that can be dressed up with Marcella shirt, bow-tie, cummerbund and evening trousers. Keeping the rest of your outfit as strict black tie is a creative take on the dress code that will be both admired and questioned. The perfect means to evoke elegance and subversion.