They’re loud, proud and traditionally associated with straw hats, rowing races and the Henley regatta. But there’s more to a boating blazer than a gentrified picnic on the riverbank. Find out how the modern man wears his summer jacket with style and panache.
About boating blazers
Some say the bright scarlet rowing garb worn by the chaps of the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St John’s College Cambridge provided the “blaze” of colour that gave the boating blazer its name. Others point out that the jacket’s provenance lies with the crew of HMS Blaze who paraded in short “navy blue” jackets.
Either way, the jacket was originally intended for active wear, and was cut so as to allow the wearer to row, or climb the rigging, with ease of movement.
Fast forward to the present day and we’re left with a clothing tradition that spans from the formality of the brass buttoned naval blazer to the bright stripes of the boating blazer – and everything in between.
The obvious place to wear your boating blazer is to a summer regatta, of which there are scores held around the UK each summer. From Henley to Cowes, these include every sort of event from local river races to J-class yachting. Every one of them is the ideal place to wear your boating blazer.
While members of posh university boat clubs have their own blazer “uniforms”, and rightly guard their patterns with pride, that doesn’t mean you can’t wear your own take on the boating jacket.
Forget subtle pastels. These events are made for proud peacocks. Go for the loudest stripes you can find and pair with chinos, brogues and a panama hat.
A celebratory summer event like a wedding deserves to be treated with the sort of levity befitting the joyous occasion. But while it’s natural to want to dress with flair, it’s important not to overdo it.
That’s because whatever you do, your attire mustn’t rival the bride and groom in all their finery. Remember, no matter how proud or pleased you may be at the thought of the coming union of man and wife, it’s not you who should shine, but the happy couple and their immediate family.
But that’s not to say you can’t have some fun by dressing in a summer blazer. Go for a blue jacket with a tasteful stripe, and wear it with a crisp white shirt and flannels or chinos.
Your son or daughter’s watershed moment deserves the full monty when it comes to celebrating the closing of one chapter and the successful opening of a new one in your progeny’s life.
Now is not the time to bemoan the prospects of recent graduates in today’s hyper-competitive job market. Nor to criticise your offspring’s bizarre choice of degree course – who’d have thought “surf science” was a subject? Graduation is a celebration.
So as not to annihilate your child’s future prospects – our advice is to go for a summer blazer in pastel blue or pink. Grey also looks the ticket. Wear a plain white shirt underneath, and stick to traditional beige chinos.
Summer fete wear
Savour the opportunity to exude flamboyance at your village or town’s annual summer fete. With the love of your life on your arm, a pocket square adorning your breast and a straw boater perched above your brow, the ordinary punters will assume you’re aristocracy come to judge the fiercely contested Victoria sponge competition.
Plus, as an item of clothing originally intended for sporting use, what better jacket to wear while spinning the tombola, whacking the rat as it drops from the drain pipe, or throwing balls at coconuts?
Be the envy of dowdy dressers by sporting a boldly striped number, and do remember your pale chinos, spectator brogues and dark glasses.
As a man about town, you surely know enough about cultural references to realise that it was bands like The Who that brought the boating blazer into the mainstream, where it has stayed ever since.
An essential part of the well-dressed mod’s ensemble, a boating blazer ensures that you ooze the true Brit sophistication of mod culture without looking like a sixties throwback.
Go for stripes broad and narrow, whatever floats your boat, and wear whenever you’re about town, or out on the town. Twin with slim fitting jeans or chinos and chelsea boots, and see if you don’t still look razor sharp.
How do you wear your summer blazer? We’d love to hear your stories. Head over to our Facebook page and leave us a message.