Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Setting the record straight. [sigh] Again.

The good folk ovah at Esquire magazine have been running a series on the best wardrobe for (the very reasonable sum of) $5000.

As you might suspect of the prestige media, things don't quite square with reality. The most recent installment deals with the blazer. Now, I'm just old enough to remember the series Esquire ran in the early 1980s, penned by John Berendt. Yeah, THAT John Berendt. In that series was an excellent brief little something (I have a feeling JB suffered from draconian excisions to his output, with which I am in position to commiserate) on the blazer.

At any rate, the brief (and I mean brief) snippet currently up has this photo and says:

A wardrobe requires only two blazers. The navy two-button blazer is the most functional -- it can be dressed up with a tie or down with jeans. The lightweight tweed works for the weekend or any event at which there's a chance of having a conversation bout the cinematography of Wim Wenders. Keep in mind that each of these sport coats, like any suit jacket, should be impeccably tailored. Gray two-button wool jacket ($305) by Luigi Bianchi Mantova; blue two-button wool jacket ($550) by DKNY.

Now. First of all, there is the egregious conflating of "blazer" with "sports coat" or "sports jacket." You expect to see this sort of drivel on eBay auctions for Polo University Club jackets, not at such a once-mighty paragon of male apparel.

Second, the navy blazer chosen has a negative sort of synergy going on. It's single-breasted, and peak lapelled and has a ticket pocket; it is precisely the sort of garment which would cause my late accounting professor to exclaim: "Oy, it it busy here!" Because it is. These flourishes, which can stand up better in the overall monochrome monolith of a suit (i.e. there is a much better ratio of flourishes to sq. yd. of a given color) really are over the top with khakis or grey flannels. Even a double breasted variant would allow these features to be sufficiently diluted. Close your eyes and imagine it.

See?

The calling card of the blazer is its dressy flexibility. Furthermore, a blazer has some sort of distinguishing button thing going on. They needn't be monogrammed gilt beauties handed down from some illustrious ancestor -- they could be bone, for example -- but they must stand in some happy contrast. A navy jacket with navy buttons looks as though one had a navy suit once and ruined the trousers.

The grey jacket in the picture is more problematic. If one stretches the point, a grey blazer is a possibility. Maybe even a stylish possibility. But this would entail the fabric being a rich, dark charcoal with, say, matte sterling buttonry. The weave would ideally be a flannel but a micro-herringbone could also work well. Otherwise you wind up with what looks like (all together now!) as though one had a grey suit once and ruined the trousers.

The article is correct in asserting the importance of having whatever garment be impeccably tailored. Now, what seems likelier to afford you that opportunity? Some flavor-of-the-month garment or something a bit more timeless and classical?

Exactly.

-J.

P.S. Remember believe none of what you hear and only half of what you read.

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