So far, we’ve kept things light and easy when it comes to designing and differentiating our suit jacket from our blazer / sports coat.
Buttons, pockets (and prior to that, in our Cut piece) lapels and shoulders are all very visual cues that indicate formality.
The final piece of this entire series actually refers to what’s ‘under the hood’ – the jacket’s canvas.
And whilst it’s not wholly relevant to the our discussion on jacket and jeans debate, given we’re covering construction, it is an important difference between how a RTW jacket is built (versus a MTM one).
A jacket, for all intents and purposes, is a 3D garment.
If you run your eye across the chest of the jacket, over the lapel (the collar) it folds around and meets a lining of some sort.
What is within this fold is a major determinant of what you pay for a jacket.
At the cheaper end, we have fused jackets. The respective sides are glued together with adhesive. This is the cheapest and fastest way of doing things. Like assembling flat pack furniture, both pieces are assembled in the simplest way possible..
The downside is, the jacket can often end up stiff and lifeless. It doesn’t mould around you but instead, sits separate from the body. It can also be the reason that after a particular harsh dry clean, one may see bubbling appear on the outer cloth of a jacket.
This is where the adhesive has melted away or, come unstuck, bubbling to the surface. It is also unrepairable.
The alternative is to hand stitch a canvas within jacket, holding both inside and outside together with ‘joints’ or stitches as opposed to adhesive.
Historically made with horsehair, such handiwork comes with an increase in costs but, this is the mortise and tenon joint to an allen key and glue.
Craft is employed where previously there was none and, with it, increase benefits.
Namely, the natural floating canvas that sits within the cavity of the jacket is mouldable and, over time, will fit an mould to the contours of your shape. Your body heat ensures this.
The jacket has an element of life to it, no longer stiff and solid but floats with the wearer.
If you take a prime ribeye on the bone, slap it in the microwave for ten minutes, the end result – edible animal protein – is the same as if you bring that piece of beef up to room temperature, season it liberally. Add it to a red hot pan with rosemary, garlic, some butter. Sear it each side and let it rest. The end result remains the same – edible animal protein. But, the taste? The experience? Couldn’t be further from journey 1.
The conculsion is, with a little consideration, thoughtful execution, changing the journey, you get a completely different experience, sensation and presentation.
And that’s ultimately, what I want this series to be.
We’ve all been guilty of ‘throwing’ a jacket over a pair of jeans. A ‘that’ll be grand’ attitude. But, those with a keen eye will notice it’s off ever so slightly.
So by considering cloth, cut and construction of your jackets, suits, wardrobe in general, you can make more informed decisions.
And it doesn’t have to cost the earth.
One blazer, in a cloth that you’ve considered, in a relaxed cut, well constructed, is an investment piece. Versatile. Built to last. Suitable year round. That can be dressed up and dressed down. Is a foundational piece for any wardrobe. And will transition from dress down Friday’s, relaxed work environments, Saturday night drinks, Sunday lunch, the day after a wedding, the day of a christening… It’ll work with jeans and chinos, flannels and moleskins. Collared shirts, knitwear, crew necks and turtlenecks.
So don’t try and crow bar that suit jacket over a pair of jeans. It looks off for all the reasons explained.
A blazer is the answer to most of the issues presented in this series (if trying to nail that tricky smart casual look).
A suit is the answer for a formal look.
But remember, cut, cloth and construction – they’re the keys.