There comes a time when a suit is too formal, so you reach for a navy blazer and a set of chinos or dress pants. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a shakeup in terms of menswear rules.
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Streetwear can be high fashion, suit separates have replaced the traditional gray and navy options, and double breasts and oversized fits offer a more playful take on the ensemble.
As you consider versatility within your wardrobe, the navy blazer bridges both worlds.
The Significance of a Navy Blazer
A navy blazer remains one of those wardrobe cornerstones. Initially crafted with a looser cut, today’s garments feature a solid, darker hue that’s free of overt texture and patterns and tends to include side vents and a breast pocket.
A double breast accompanied by six gold buttons gives off more traditional vibes with clear nautical influences. A single-breasted blazer with a series of buttons not in a contrasting shade reflects New England preppy sensibilities.
Especially if you’ve invested in suit separates, you can source your navy blazer from this combination. Yet, the garment differs in construction from the less-formal sports jacket, which tends to distinguish itself with thicker material and a more visible texture. A traditional navy blazer, by contrast, appears more refined, constructed out of thinner, smoother wool.
At the same time, while we perceive the navy blazer as derivative of a two-piece suit, it has its own history. Double-breasted silhouettes go back to a familiar naval garment, while later, the color frequently surfaced among yacht and rowing club members.
Emerging from these points, modern-day options use nine- or 10-ounce worsted wool for substance, a cleaner appearance, and at least three seasons of wear.
In terms of dress codes, it occupies a spot below a suit jacket yet more upscale than the sports jacket. Considering this, you’ll want to aim for something with a more defined, structured appearance that complements cool and neutral hues, as well as the occasional pattern.
Ways to Wear a Navy Blazer
Styling a navy blazer frequently comes down to dress code and occasion. Consider the following:
These occasions typically call for a darker-colored suit: navy and charcoal are acceptable, as may be a similar green or brown. Within this direction, suit separates and suit jackets provide an alternative, just as long as you know how to work with them.
In this instance, a single- or double-breasted navy blazer suffices. From here, look for neutral contrasts: particularly against a crisp white or light-blue dress shirt, as well as with gray or tan wool chinos or dress pants.
The rule you’ve heard since childhood still applies in the present, especially for semi-formal occasions: never wear navy with black. A mid to light gray, however, is a sufficient pairing.
Smart casual increasingly dominates social occasions, to the point many simply consider it a default.
Yet, especially for menswear, this more ambiguous dress code comes with unspoken, sometimes conditional rules leading to confusion. In a nutshell, certain T-shirts and denim are fine, including in tandem with a navy blazer.
You can start with some contrasts – light denim or a white T-shirt, for starters – but also have access to a broader range of possibilities through patterned button-downs, pastel chinos, and closer-fitting polos. Avoid anything too loose or too busy, as navy still gives off traditional vibes here.
While you might find yourself second-guessing your denim to reflect smart-casual sensibilities, full-on casual opens the possibilities further.
In the present, suiting has turned into a canvas for a plethora of style options, from prints to not even wearing a shirt underneath. Although navy blazers don’t reach this extreme, casual contexts are ripe for experimentation.
For starters, consider a less-structured silhouette – one with softer shoulders. Side vents aren’t necessary, and the gold buttons come off a touch extra – unless you’re intentionally doing some retro sailor inspiration.
From here, vary it with white to distressed denim, and consider adding a knit underneath, be it a polo or a full sweater. A print, be it flowers or stripes, creates another level of contrast, but should be balanced out with more neutral trousers.
Inspiration for Wearing a Navy Blazer
Vineyard Vines takes a hybrid yet traditionalist approach with this wool blazer, adding sailor-inspired gold buttons to a more versatile single-breasted shape. Antibacterial, stain-resistant, water-repellent, and anti-odor properties help it withstand the elements and repeat wear.
A lighter, lower-cut design delivers the right fit for layering and captures classic prep appeal.
Bonobos updates timeless construction by adding a moderate amount of stretch to a monochromatic wool/cotton blend.
Who says travel blazers have to be made from stretchy nylon material? Peter Millar starts classic using 93% Loro Piana merino wool and blends it with silk and elastane for a smoother, somewhat flexible fit. This is joined by a water-resistant treatment and multiple interior pockets for holding your belongings.
While still giving off quintessential preppy vibes, Ralph Lauren goes for a more understated, lighter approach with half-canvas construction slubbed linen for more texture, and a softer shoulder.
Slimmer construction gets balanced by a softer, unstructured shape and lightly textured appearance, turning this blazer into a core sprezzatura garment.
“Ghost” turns out to be an apt description for an unlined textured blazer that can be adjusted for a more open appearance.
You can’t get any more preppy than this slimmer-fitting, structured fully wool blazer accented with two gold buttons in front.
Valentino plays up the nautical angle with this double-breasted knit cotton blazer that’s styled like a cropped peacoat.