A blazer is a type of jacket resembling a suit jacket, but cut more casually.
A blazer is generally distinguished from a sport coat as a more formal garment and tailored from solid colour fabrics. Blazers often have naval-style metal buttons to reflect their origins as jackets worn by boating club members.A blazer’s cloth is usually durable, as it is intended as outdoor wear. Blazers are often part of a uniform that denotes, for example, an airline’s employees, pupils of a particular school, members of sports clubs, or sportsmen and women on a particular team.
These early blazers were like later sports jackets, but this term has never referred to blazers, instead describing jackets derived from the later innovation of wearing odd jackets for land-based sports. Assertions that the name is derived from HMS Blazer are not borne out by contemporary sources, although it is reported that before the standardization of uniform in the Royal Navy, the crew of HMS Blazer wore “striped blue and white jackets”,apparently in response to the sailors of HMS Harlequin being turned out in harlequin suits. As late as 1837 the gig’s crew of HMS Blazer were dressed by their Captain in jackets of blue and white stripes and it is from this that the word blazer, meaning a striped jacket, has entered the language.
The reefer jacket was of naval origin, and described the short double-breasted jacket worn by sailors in harsh weather, when they performed duties such as reefing the sails. It is descendants of this which are now commonly described by the term blazer. Originally with black horn buttons, these jackets evolved to the modern dark blazer, now single as well as double breasted, and with metallic buttons.Striped blazers became popular among British Mods in the early 1960s, and again during the Mod revival of the late 1970s – particularly in three-colour thick/thin stripe combinations, with three-button single-breasted front, five- or six-inch side or centre vents, and cuffs with multiple buttons. Various photos from 1964 and 1965 show London mods in boating blazers.
Photos of mod icons The Who from 1964 (as the High Numbers) variously show Pete Townshend, Keith Moon and John Entwistle wearing boating blazers. Another mod band, Small Faces, and other bands liked by mods – such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Kinks, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues and The Troggs – had band members wearing striped blazers/boating jackets, or later, brightly coloured blazers with wide white or other light edging. These later blazers often had non-metal buttons, sometimes in the same colour as the edging. The earlier style of striped blazers can be seen in the film Quadrophenia. The later, bright, style of blazer was affectionately adopted by Austin Powers as part of his Swinging London-look.
By the late 2000s the blazer had been adopted as a popular fashion trend amongst women, often having shorter lengths.