The blazer is replacing the suit as the new workplace dress code


In what can only be called a requiem to the suit, journalist Richard Godwin laments the death of smart dressing in an article in The Guardian, “The new workwear: has the Suit Finally Died?” Now a freelancer, Godwin admits he was once a proud wearer of suits and hoarder of ties. But that has stopped, now that he works out of a coworking space “amid nut-butter influencers and CBD startups and 20-something digital marketing types”.

There is a loosening up of ties when it comes to formal dress code at the workplace. Earlier this year Goldman Sachs — known for spawning an army of spiffily dressed execs — announced a move to a flexible dress code to reflect the changing nature of workplaces. Enter: blazers, sports coats or jackets that help you look proper without being “propah”.

Prem Dewan, retail head of OSL Luxury Collections that brought Italian luxury menswear brand Corneliani to India, says, “Most millennials have stopped wearing suits and are into comfortable yet well-coordinated ensembles. Blazers are now worn with denims in light and breathable fabrics with sharper fits. For a formal occasion, people wear blazers with a pocket square and a tie.”

A blazer or sports jacket has become to men what the little black dress is for women — a wardrobe staple. And the fashion industry is listening.

Menswear designer Kunal Anil Tanna says the blazers have transformed over the years. “What began as a less formal substitute to the suit is a style quotient and wardrobe necessity today.”


When it comes to corporate dress code, there has been a shift from suits to blazers, says Harssh Chheda, founder & CEO, Corporate Collars, a high-end, bespoke tailoring brand. “A good blazer is always an investment and nothing beats a tailored one. If you are investing in one for the first time, stick to a basic style and colours like blue, black, grey or tan. This helps in making it a utilitarian piece, one that can be layered with crisp shirts during the day or soft-jersey T-shirts in the evening.”

Smart casuals as a trend has picked up in the last few years. But before you decide on your blazer, understand the functionality of it.

“The evolution of workplace menswear style is quite interesting,” says Sandeep Gonsalves, director and cofounder of menswear designer brand SS Homme — Sarah & Sandeep. “The younger generation is more fashionable and on-point with the trends and a blazer comes with an advantage of stylistic versatility. Experimentation is the name of the game at the moment and a contemporary man is not afraid to experiment.”

For a good jacket, pay attention to the fit, construction quality and materials. Blazers and its less formal variant, sports coat, are made using various design elements like layered panels, collar styles, mock layers, bomber style, shackets (shirts meet jackets), trench-inspired and more. Even fabric picks are varied like corduroy, denim, linen, cotton, jacquard, velvet, wool and silk — in textures and patterns. Brands are also experimenting with fabric compositions. Metal buttons are in vogue.

Gonsalves, however, is not ready to write the suit’s obituary just yet. “A full suit still holds its importance in the workplace and you can never be too formally dressed for a business meeting.”

However, what sets blazers apart are that these are extremely versatile garments and can be suitable for any occasion. Gonsalves says a bespoke one gives you the liberty to showcase your personal style and select fabric quality, colour, cuts and garment details.

The modern blazer is more dramatic than classic and definitely more fun, says stylist Harsh Khullar. “A basic blue-andblack blazer is a good investment as it can be styled with almost anything for any occasion.”

Invest in a velvet dinner jacket if your lifestyle calls for attending high-powered soirees. Cashmere blazers in tan, black and red give a rich and luxurious feel. You need to put away at least Rs 21,000 for a custom-tailored jacket, while a luxury variant starts at Rs 70,000.

The classic double-breasted blazer has evolved considerably over the last century, says designer Raghavendra Rathore, known for his sharply tailored menswear. “Compact, more snug-fitted and, most importantly, redirected as a single-breasted cut is now the new look.”

Dewan of Corneliani puts his money on the double-breasted jacket. “The new slim cut that sits close to the body without being overly restrictive on movement is the way to go. The mid-weight material makes it wearable all year round.”

For the fall, it is a good idea to pick a check sports coat with either a notched or peak lapel.

In his article, Godwin talks about how he finally took his suit out for a university reunion as the dress code demanded it.

“Everyone remarked on how they never wore suits and ties these days. Everyone spent the evening complimenting one another. And everyone, I sensed, enjoyed looking their unashamed best. What if you never had the chance to look your best again? What kind of future would that be?”

Maybe it will be the blazer to the rescue, after all.


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