Blaze a Trail with a Blazer!

There was a time when the only people who wore blazers were either entertainments officers on cruise liners, door-to-door cold-call salesmen or dodgy second-hand car salesmen with a cravat. But what was once a no-no look is coming back into fashion bigtime, not least thanks to a book by Jack Carlson called Rowing Blazers. His picture-rich book explores and exposes the blazers worn by oarsmen and sailors around the world. Carlson has no small degree of authority in this area- he himself a rower who’s formerly represented Oxford University in the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. The book is a trailblazer (sorry about that pun) for his soon to be launched eponymous menswear line and shows the great and the good and the not so well known sporting the height of preppy sartorial elegance, the blazer.
The book takes in many countries, the Netherlands, the States, the UK, South Africa and New Zealand, but binds together these far-flung lands through the images of rowers wearing blazers in their own styles. Sir Steve Redgrave and Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss (who you might remember as the twins from The Social Network) are included.The book is a celebration of the blazer as a statement of clean-cut clothing design, and also a way of life. Carlson argues that the blazer is at its heart totally American. Classic US sportswear. Timeless and cool. While many fashion lines rise and fall, the blazer continues to be a constant and one feels that his message is that each and every one of us should have at least one blazer in our wardrobes.
The book features some photos of English rowing teams, and it is striking just how natural and comfortable the rowers look. It sometimes seems as though blue-blooded Englishmen were born in a blazer! In Holland we discover that blazers, sometimes fifty or more years old, are passed down within the clubs until they are literally threadbare!
In fact I predict that blazers will make a stunning comeback (although they never really went away) in 2014-5. I think we will see them being worn as hip-hop street fashion matched with trainers, skinny jeans and even headscarves. It shouldn’t take urban fashionistas long to realise that a blazer is a stunning street statement, be it navy blue, black, maroon, plain or striped. There was a time when blazers were the exclusive preserve of those who were (or pretended to be) landed gentry, rowers or Oxford or Cambridge “toffs”. But not any more I predict. I think that the clean cut lines of the blazer plus the quality material and not least of all the excellent gold or silver buttons will become sought after street-wear for young and old alike. So start searching for your statement blazer right away before everyone on the block is sporting them and you’ll be accused of lamely following fashion rather than headlining it!
Rowing Blazers, by Jack Carlson, published by Thames & Hudson is available now. £34.95.

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