Ah, the blazer. Few garments command respect and project elegance quite like this timeless classic. Since its inception as the uniform of English rowing club members in the 1800s, the blazer has persisted as a pillar of men’s fashion for good reason.
But not all blazers are created equal. In recent years, a more relaxed, casual interpretation of the blazer has emerged as a stylish staple for the modern gentleman. These softer silhouettes ditch the rigid structure and stiff fabrics of formal suit jackets for loose, comfortable fits and unlined, breathable materials.
The result? An effortlessly polished look that works for both laid-back and refined occasions. No longer relegated solely to 9-to-5 business wear, today’s relaxed blazers transcend seasonal trends and fickle fast fashion. They are enduring wardrobe heroes, ready to sharpen up daily denim and elevate smart-casual dress codes at a moment’s notice.
In this comprehensive guide, we will demystify the relaxed blazer, equipping you with expert strategies for finding your perfect match. From distinguishing details to watch for to common fit pitfalls to avoid, consider this your masterclass in identifying quality craftsmanship and timeless transitional style. Let’s dive in.
The Measure of a Man: Fit and Proportions
The magic is in the details when evaluating the fit and silhouette of a relaxed blazer. Keep these structural considerations in mind as you shop:
- Shoulders – No slouching allowed here; the shoulders should still align cleanly along your natural frame even in a relaxed cut. Watch for potential collar gaping or inconsistent sleeve pitch, signalling improper shoulder dimensions.
- Chest and waist – Aim for a comfortable amount of room through the chest and midsection without looking boxy or oversized. Make sure the blazer doesn’t pull too much when fastened.
- Armholes and sleeves – Armholes should sit high enough to allow a full range of motion without constriction. Sleeve lengths should hit right at the wrist bone with your arms at your sides.
- Length – Look for a blazer length that falls just below the waist and top of hips for optimal proportions. Avoid cuts that are overly long or short.
- Vents – Center back vents provide room to move and a laidback vibe. Side vents preserve more traditional tailoring. Your call here.
- Buttons – 3 buttons are standard. Ensure you can fasten the blazer without straining or gaping.
If in doubt, consult a tailor. Well-placed seams can work magic to perfect the proportions and silhouette of even inexpensive blazers. Worth the investment.
Now, let’s reveal the relaxed blazer styles that have earned top marks with gentlemen everywhere…
The Dean’s List: 5 Recommended Relaxed Blazers
1. Brandon Lightweight Cotton Blazer
We start with a warm weather essential. Breathable 100% cotton provides incredible comfort and versatility. The unlined interior and lack of shoulder padding accentuate the casual vibe of this great bargain blazer. With multiple neutral colors to choose from and a well-liked slimmer fit through the waist, it’s no wonder the Brandon is a favorite for laidback tropical getaways and kicking back on the weekends.
Description: Notch lapel, dual flap pockets, 3 silver button closure, center back vent Fabric: 100% cotton Colors: Tan, navy, light grey Price: $$
- Lightweight and breathable for warm climates
- Soft, unstructured cotton fabric
- Slimmer cut is flattering for athletic builds
- Multiple versatile neutrals to choose from
- Lack of lining reduces structure
- Wrinkles easily without ironing
- Limited sizes may require tailoring
- Dry clean only for best results
2. Wintress Wrinkle-Resistant Travel Blazer
Frequent flyers, listen up. The Wintress is engineered for globetrotting. A premium polyester-rayon blend resists wrinkles, while the 3-button closure and dual flap pockets deliver timeless tailored style. With a grab-and-go medium weight that layers effortlessly over dress or casual shirts, this blazer multitasks as well as you do.
Description: Notch lapel, dual flap pockets, 3 button closure, side vents Fabric: Polyester-rayon blend Colors: Navy, black, light grey Price: $$$
- Wrinkle-resistant fabric perfect for travel
- Lightly padded shoulders maintain structure
- Fits comfortably over dress shirts or t-shirts
- Easy to dress up or down
- Synthetic fabric lacks softness
- Dry clean only
- Only available in standard sizing
- Boxy shape on some body types
3. Levine Stretch Chino Blazer
Effortless weekend wearability meets weekday workhorse in this customer favorite. With just a hint of spandex woven into the soft chino fabric, the Levine combines incredible comfort, ease of movement, and a polished yet relaxed look. The unstructured silhouette accentuates the casual vibe, making this a perfect blazer for kicking back or heading confidently into low-key business meetings.
Description: Notch lapel, dual welt pockets, 2 brown horn buttons
Fabric: 98% cotton, 2% spandex Colors: Khaki, olive, black Price: $$
- Soft, stretchy chino fabric allows mobility
- Unstructured shoulders exude a casual vibe
- Versatile neutral colorways for endless pairing
- Affordable price point
- Limited sizes
- Dry clean recommended
- Stretch fabric is prone to pilling
- Can run large
4. Freeman Denim Blazer
Inject some rugged Americana spirit into your regular rotation with the Freeman, constructed from rich 100% cotton denim. The vivid contrast topstitching and wood tone buttons pay homage to vintage workwear, while the relaxed cut through the chest and shoulders keeps things modern. Wear this true original over t-shirts, polos and oxfords for laidback cool. The more you break it in, the better it gets.
Description: Notch lapel, flap pockets, 4 wood tone buttons, center vent Fabric: 100% cotton denim Colors: Medium and dark indigo wash Price: $
- Soft, broken-in cotton denim
- Relaxed fit perfect for layering
- Vintage-inspired details
- Very affordable cost
- Limited washes and sizes
- Shows dirt, wear easily
- No lining or structure
- Dry clean only
5. Pendleton Knit Jersey Blazer
For the utmost in easygoing comfort, look no further than this ingeniously crafted knit blazer from heritage brand Pendleton. The substantial mid-weight jersey fabric exudes casual class, while the inherent stretch provides unrestricted mobility. Perfect for coastal vacations and temperate climates, the refined styling masks its unbelievable comfort. Slip it on over a polo or shirt for instant relaxation without sacrificing polish.
Description: Notch collar, welt pockets, 2 button closure Fabric: 95% polyester, 5% spandex
Colors: Black, navy, charcoal
- Extremely comfortable stretch knit
- Wrinkle-resistant and packable
- Transitional weight for layering
- Classic tailored look
- Loosely woven fabric lacks structure
- Slimmer size range
- Hand wash or dry clean only
- Pilling around collars and cuffs
And there you have it gentlemen, a diverse selection of recommended relaxed blazers to elevate your style. Let the fabric composition and unique detailing of each guide you towards your ideal match.
Now that we’ve covered the best of the best, let’s move onto some frequently asked questions about this timeless wardrobe workhorse…
How much should I size up for a relaxed fit blazer?
General guidance is to size up one full size from your normal blazer size in order to achieve a relaxed, but still flattering fit. Keep in mind the shoulders should align properly regardless. Beyond that, focus your fit evaluations on the chest, waist and arms.
Can I wear relaxed blazers with dress pants?
Technically yes, but we recommend save your relaxed blazers for pairings with chinos, dark denim, trousers and other smart casual bottoms. The informal nature of relaxed blazers tends to clash with the polish of formal suit pants. For a dressier look, opt for a more structured blazer.
Are relaxed blazers suitable for bigger guys?
Absolutely. The looser cut through the midsection and shoulders of relaxed blazers is perfect for gentlemen with fuller figures, allowing ample room to move without looking boxy. Just be mindful of overall blazer length and get the shoulders and sleeve pitch adjusted properly.
How should relaxed blazers fit through the body?
You want a comfortable amount of room through the chest and waist without drowning in excessive fabric. Make sure the blazer doesn’t pull or strain too much when fastened. If needed, take it to a tailor to taper the waist for a more flattering silhouette.
What fabrics work best?
Focus on unlined, unstructured fabrics that drape cleanly like cotton, linen blends, light wools and textured knits. These showcase the casual vibe of a relaxed blazer. Avoid overly thick, spongy fabrics.
The Measure of the Man
At the end of the day, the most iconic wardrobe pieces are those that evolve with the modern gentleman over the years. By taking the time to understand your needs and preferences, you can find a relaxed blazer that serves as a trusty companion through life’s adventures – be it closing a career-making deal or grabbing a cocktail with friends.
When care and craftsmanship meet style and self-expression, that’s when timeless magic happens. Use this guide as your roadmap to discovering the perfect blazer. The rest is up to you.
So go forth in confident comfort and make it your own. Here’s to defined shoulders and endless possibilities. Cheers.