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How To Buy and Wear a Blazer

05/10/2013 08:03 EDT | Updated 07/10/2013 05:12 EDT
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By Adam Fox

On a recent Tuesday evening, I dashed out of the office to attend a press event for the unveiling of a new men's cologne. And since inaccessibility and coolness are directly related in Manhattan these days, I was forced to trek down to the Lower East Side's uber-modern Thomson Hotel. The scene was typical: A cramped room, tuna tartare on taro chips and uncomfortable mingling with a motley crew of writers ranging from 20-something Williamsburg-y blogger girls to seasoned editors from Vogue and Elle. I was out of my element and aching to get home.

The Power Of A Blazer

Cocktail time couldn't end soon enough, and I quickly planted myself behind said editors from Vogue and Elle to hear the marketing manager's spiel. It wasn't because I wanted to be with the cool kids but rather the seat was closest to the door for a quick exit should the tuna tartare become a problem. An hour or so later, the show was over, and I made a run for the gift bags. But before I could get my hands on an iPad case dripping in GGs, I found myself face-to-face with a seven-foot tall redhead from Elle Latin America.

"All guys should dress like you," she said. I was somewhat startled. I mean, I had barely given myself a glance before splitting from my cube. And despite my day job, I rarely think of myself as a fashion plate. "That's a really great blazer," she continued. Suddenly I was all ears for this unsolicited ego boost. But then, something more significant happened: I realized I was the only guy there who even bothered to toss on a blazer that brisk early winter evening. And in so doing, I had unknowingly unleashed its power.

In the days following my stamp of approval from the Amazonian Elle girl, I got to thinking about where that power is derived from. Sure, when it comes to blazers, I've espoused the season's best bets and dos and don'ts dozens of times. But why would a blazer get me a second look?

Why You Need To Wear A Blazer

Reason No. 1: It's masculine

The world's most manly men (Tom Ford and David Beckham come to mind) are pretty much always in some sort of blazer, which is basically like an express ticket to Testosterone-ville. After all, the only reason people care about clothes in the first place is to attract other people so that they can take them off.

Reason No. 2: It hides doughnuts and pizza

A formfitting blazer can create a completely new silhouette for your body -- even if you've been skipping the gym. Whether it's love handles, a spare tire or flabby forearms, the clean lines of a blazer will instantly lean you out.

Reason No. 3: It plays well with others

The blazer is one of the few items of clothing in a man's wardrobe that can work with anything from black tie to a T-shirt. In short, the possibilities are endless. Of course, just any old blazer isn't going to get you laid, drop 10 pounds or integrate seamlessly with a cummerbund.

How To Buy A Blazer

Tip No. 1: Shop for fit

That shapeless sack you've been wearing to job interviews and funerals isn't doing you any favors. The truth is most men buy their jackets at least one size too big based on some bizarre arm-stretching ritual that's meant to ensure a full range of motion (as if we're supposed to be doing calisthenics in the thing).

Blazer fit can seem like a dauntingly vague term, but its parts are actually quite simple and sensible. First, the entire jacket should follow the natural lines of your body. The back should lay flat, the armholes should be high enough to delineate your chest, the torso should taper inward to define your midsection, and the shoulders should end, well, where your shoulders end. Finally, the sleeve should show about a half-inch of shirt cuff, and perhaps most importantly, the proper length of the jacket should not be judged by standing stick straight to see if your hands can still cup the bottom. Instead, an easy rule of thumb is to get the blazer to barely cover your ass.

Tip No. 2: Beware of style

There's a boatload of potential blazer styling blunders out there. But the biggest offenses undoubtedly come from guys who think they're ahead of the curve (or rather, that their sh*t doesn't smell). You know, the ones topping off their untucked, striped Robert Graham shirts with cross-emblazoned, rhinestone-studded sportcoats. If my own experience with solid navy that fateful evening is any indication, choosing basic over D-bag bling is always better. Sure, I could have gone with chalk stripes or a windowpane pattern in variety of more daring hues, but navy is the tried-and-true staple with which every man should start his collection.

Tip No. 3: Pricey doesn't always pay off

That same guy who piles the cheese on his Robert Graham shirt is typically the one who also likes to label drop. Indeed, a well-made basic blazer can cost a pretty penny, too, but the most important thing to consider is fit (see tip No. 1 above). Fortunately, a tailored blazer can be had on any budget. Take mine for example: It's nameless, costs less than 50 bucks at a sample sale and fits like a glove. In fact, it looks far better than many I own at prices that I'd rather not discuss.

I am, however, proud to say that my initial surprise over the power of the blazer has since turned into a successful harnessing of it. And for that sassy redhead from Elle Latin America, wherever you are, gracias.