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Your gentleman’s guide to essential jacket etiquette
You wouldn’t wear a Seersucker to a black tie event. You just wouldn’t. Unless you’re “that guy”, or if you’re ironically impersonating “that guy” for a joke that creates less of an impression than an Influencer’s influence on any of their “followers” and will get fewer laughs than cracking a tasteless Jimmy Savile joke to an audience of pre-school teachers.
But why wouldn’t you commit Seersucker-cide at a black tie event? Why wouldn’t you don a business suit to puff away on a stogie in an intimate, dimly lit bar? And why not chuck on a tux for an alfresco dinner on The Palm?
The answer to all these questions is simple: there is a tacit gentleman’s code for correct jacket decorum.
And whether or not we’re aware of the nuances of the binary jacket-event rules, we adhere to them, and moreover, we continue to uphold them.
Knowing when to dress it up or down is one thing, but choosing the right jacket is another. So, whether you’re a jacketing connoisseur, or whether you’re just vaguely aware of the etiquette that underlines our jacket-wearing decisions, here’s your gentleman’s guide to jackets, and the must-have pieces in your wardrobe to ensure you’re covered for any event inked into the calendar.
Code of London
Code of London
Code of London
The sports jacket is your best jacketed friend. You can take him most places and he won’t let you down. It should be versatile, classy and stylish. And most importantly it should be you, you, you. The jacket that you’ll wear most often is the biggest indicator of your style identity.
To clarify, by a “sports” jacket, we mean a blazer that you can pair with a variety of trouser options and still look smart. We don’t mean a Jock’s American football style jacket that many a teen movie has used to stereotype the unsuspecting cool kids of colleges they hold dominion over.
Now, why is the sports jacket your best friend? Quite simply, you can pair it with jeans (well chosen jeans — this is a process in itself), cords, chinos, checks and so on.
Your sports jacket gives you the option of being comfortable smart wherever you go. Solid block colours tend to work well: grey and navy are popular because they offer a solid foundation to build around. But you can get away with some patterning provided it doesn’t steal the show.
And the beauty of the sports jacket is that there’s no this-is-a-sports-jacket regulations: cut, shape, style, pattern — they’re all down to you and your individual style. Tweed, linen, back vent, slanted pockets: it’s all down to you.
For a sleek, simple look, pair your sports jacket with an oxford button-down collar shirt. Or for a layered, more casual look, throw it over a t-shirt or sweater.
Parties, dates, lunches — they’re all venues that are keen to see you sport your sports jacket.
Turnbull and Asser
Code of London
Made fashionable by the disgraced British monarch and socialite Edward VIII, the double-breasted jacket has a special place in your wardrobe. It works best when you’re using it as a statement piece to dress up a less formal occasion: everyday office wear, a date, a casual dinner or meeting the soon-to-be in-laws.
Worn right, the double-breasted can see you pull away from the cookie cutter office business suit and still match the suavity of those that tread the same bit of carpet as you between 9 and 5 every day. And for dinners and dates, worn with some alternative pants and classic brown brogues just elevates your appeal from well-dressed to finely-dressed gent.
We also recommend that you seek out a double-breasted that offers a nicely spread and pointed lapel to emphasise the natural shape of the shoulder to produce a masculine appeal.
However, the double-breasted jacket does come with a few caveats.
- Always wear it done up. As soon as you let it loose, it loses all its shape and falls apart at the seams. The whole point of the double-breasted jacket is to emphasise your sleek shape and style. The second you lose that, the whole aesthetic unravels.
- Opt for six buttons. The four button double-breasted number looks awkward and someone who has failed badly at reinventing a classic. Stick with six.
- Wear a tie. Depending on the pattern and colour of your double-breasted (we suggest sticking with classic block colours like navy, grey or black), pick a tie that complements the elegance of the jacket.
- Don’t wear it for a black tie event: Just let the tux have its day.
Anchor & Crew
For some reason Seersuckers fell off the radar a while ago. But recently they’re making something of a comeback. True, they can look like baggy striped pyjamas on the body of a slowly deteriorating mind (but this is where your tailor comes in useful). And yes, the seersucker is stereotypically the go-to outfit for pompous parents looking to make their six-year-old Alfie look adorably refined. But the seersucker has its advantages, too.
As well as spring and summer alfresco dining and smarter-than-casual barbecues at hosts who will judge you, the Seersucker is perfect for travelling. One of this jacket’s main advantages is that with the lightweight material, the creases don’t matter — they’re all part of the look.
The unique weave of the thread, which “puckers” up, gives the jacket a naturally bumpy look, but one that works with the material. So you can roll it up, throw it in your overhead cabin and pull it out when you land safe in the knowledge you’re still travelling in style, creases and all.
Worn with a casual linen shirt and cool, neutral coloured-slacks, the Seersucker has a place in your wardrobe. Whether you want to opt for a full-on seersucker suit is another level of seersucker refinement that we will dress another time.
Comme Les Loups
Comme Les Loups
The gold standard of formal wear, the tuxedo distinguishes a true gent from an Average Joe at swanky soirees and elegant parties. Note: you’ll know when do get the tux out of the wardrobe — the invitation will say ‘black tie’. And when you see those two words that inspire images of Jay Gatsby, James Bond snd Fred Astaire printed on your invite, it’s important to get it right.
Firstly, we don’t want a notch lapel: go for a shawl, or even better a peak lapel. Notch lapels are dull, uninspiring and standard. The peak lapel is the classic shape and form that will never go out of fashion. And if you fancy yourself a bit of a James Dean, the shawl lapel is the one for you.
You want a cut and fit that offers a sleek silhouette. Our advice here is to first buy your own tux rather than rent. And secondly get it tailored. You can spot an ill-fitting rented tux a mile off and it smacks not of refinement but rather of someone fitting in for the sake of conformity.
You want a closed back with no vents to keep it classy and traditional. If you have vents going on, you’ll have the middle opening and revealing your waist, which is just not done at black ties.
It’s a general rule that the waist should be covered, despite 007 breaking this sartorial rule in just about every film he’s in. Cummerbunds or waistcoats will do just fine.
Learn how to do your own bow tie. Never. Ever use a clip on. If you have, or have ever contemplated using a clip on bow tie, you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the closest mirror and ask yourself what you can do to redeem your terrible shortcomings in life.
And finally, please leave the white tux to Sean Connery and Daniel Craig.
Duke + Dexter
Comme Les Loups
Code of London
Something of a tux-sports jacket hybrid. A bit of an in-betweener. Unlike the double-breasted jacket, which you’re using to dress up a less formal occasion to elevate your style, smoking jacket are acceptable in some instances to be worn in place of a tuxedo. Now, we’re not going to advocate you renounce the etiquette of black tie events in favour of a smoker. But. When the occasion arises where there’s a hazy dress code of ‘not-quite-black-tie-but-still-formal’ — then this is the jacket to pull on.
Originally the special reserve of aristocrats who enjoyed lounging around in their gigantic estates before an open fire, smoking a pipe, reading a dusty tome and discussing how their genetically-privileged lifestyles came with such great responsibility, smoking jackets have started becoming acceptable evening wear for Victorian gentlemen who enjoyed a fine evening on the town without having to don a three piece tuxedo.
So today, your smoking jacket can be a statement piece unto itself. We suggest keeping the pattern simple and elegant. Windowpane check, light pinstrips or herringbone tweed make for excellent pieces that can be matched with a variety of accompanying attire.