Please suggest a practical bis cas blazer
July 30, 2014 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Please give me your suggestions for a practical blazer (sports coat) that will work in a business casual setting but also as a practical jacket without making me look too dressed up. Deets inside

I'm male, of size that requires specific sizes of shirts, not just S/M/L. My budget is $150 + tailoring. Preferable colors are greyish brown or greyish navy blue.

So here's the deal: I'm looking for a sports coat or blazer that I can combine with standard business casual OCBD/chinos (and maybe a casual necktie) while at work, without looking like I'm trying to dress formally or look preppy.

I think this means something utilitarian, more jacket than blazer, while still retaining the blazer cut and silhouette. Perhaps this means embellishments like elbow patches. Maybe this means a rougher fabric like wool, or something high tech and outdoorsy.

Basically, something about as formal as a cardigan, but more practical and sturdy.

Links to items in stores are appreciated, but so are pictures or pinterests or ideas or suggestions. I'm still trying to solidify this mythical outwear item in my mind so any reports of personal experiences trying to blend a jacket into your wardrobe are appreciated as well.
posted by rebent to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's really only one answer to this question, and it is: a standard navy blazer. Like this one.

My suggestion on your budget: but a cheap used one at a thrift store or ebay. It will be wool, but wool isn't necessarily rough.

If you want something rougher, try tweed (which is wool).

Again, at this price point, buy used, pay for tailoring.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't have any particular items in mind, but look for these descriptive words:

-Natural Shoulder or "Unstructured". This jacket will not have the padding and molding in the shoulder that gives it a more formal look. It will conform to your upper body more closely.
-Flap Pockets or Patch Pockets. Flap pockets have a flap that covers the opening, but the pocket itself is still inside the material of the jacket. Patch pockets are sewn on the outside of the jacket and are even more casual.
-Notch lapel

As far as material goes, wool comes in a lot of different textures from smooth and "dressy" to much rougher, heavier and "casual" feels. You might look for worsted or felted wool or a twill which will both be a little rougher and more casual. Cotton would be more casual still than rough wools and might also be a good choice (cotton twill or moleskin would be good to look for). I would also suggest corduroy if that's your thing.

Darker colors are generally considered more formal, so a lighter navy would be a good choice. Browns are good casual colors, but if you don't have a navy blazer in your wardrobe I'd pick that first.

I agree that for $150 you're better off finding something used, but if you can stretch it a little bit than you could try Suit Supply or a similar shop.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:11 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ack, what I really meant by "felted wool" was "flannel". Very nice and soft, but warm.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2014

My husband has this and I think it fits your bill.
posted by bluedeans at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you'd do well to look at stuff by topman, who have little pop-ups inside nordstroms stores. They start at around that price range, and do the "casual but still a sport coat/blazer" thing pretty well. The jackets quickly go from 150-ish to 300 though, which scared me off a bit.
posted by emptythought at 1:57 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't see a mention of your typical range of climate. Where I live, a place that experiences some variant of what most would call "winter" for six months of the year, I frequently reach for a tweed blazer when I'm going for a more relaxed look. Cashmere, or a cashmere/wool blend can also look relaxed, if the details aren't too formal.

I get a ton of mileage out of an Italian-styled linen jacket in warmer months. It's a lighter shade of blue than navy, but functions in a similarly subdued way in most combinations. (It's a Zegna, styled much like this one, but with a 3/2 button stance, and in this exact fabric.) It can be worn in reasonably dressy situations, but has a lot of less-formal detailing (soft shoulders, patch pockets) for casual times.

Finding something of a decent quality for around $150 is basically impossible, if you're shopping new. eBay, or thrifting -- if you live in the right area -- is your friend. The linen jacket I mentioned above normally would have retailed for around $2k, but on eBay it was only about $200. And eBay is lousy with tweeds, of all styles/vintages; good ones can be had for as little as $60!

One new-but-sub-$200 jacket that I've found useful/durable is this weird thing from Land's End; kind of a casual bastard child of a sportcoat, a shirt-jacket, and a... rain slicker? It definitely ticks a "functional" box -- it's designed for travel and outdoorsy stuff -- but I've found it a bit hard to pair easily with different shirts and pants. Casual or pressed chinos are fine, but wool, linen, cords, etc, are out. The color is useful, and the styling is relaxed, but the fabric reads as a bit shiny (probably the nylon). But hey, mostly waterproof! So you can spill your lunch on it!
posted by credible hulk at 10:45 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's also this unique thing:

Its a mix between a blazer and a cardigan.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:03 AM on July 31, 2014

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