Broke and Bespoke

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Not all Blue Jackets are the Same…

The jury is still out on whether it’s a good thing or not, but I surely am one who takes great pleasure in the subtle distinctions between blue jackets which, to the untrained or uncaring eye, all look the same.

Things like shoulder shapes or expressions; degrees of padding and constructedness (unlined, quarter lined, two-thirds lined, canvassed, half-canvassed, uncanvassed, etc.); pocket combinations (patch, flapped patch, flap, hacking, etc.); gorge height; button stance; lapel style and width; whether the jacket is an odd jacket or a blazer, and so on, keep me entertained each time I don one of my many solid blue sport coats and blazers.

Perhaps I’m crazy, but I certainly see many subtle and not so subtle differences in the pictures above, and each difference puts the coat in question in a category of its own. 

From top to bottom:

Double breasted suit jacket courtesy of Indochino. Although this is a suit jacket, its dark horn buttons and birdseye pattern make me feel comfortable wearing it as a separate as well. I’d dress it up or down—even with jeans and some canvas sneakers if I felt the spirit take me. The hacking and ticket pockets are a little flourish I took advantage of when choosing the custom options available from Indochino. The jacket has some soft and light padding in the shoulder—nothing too extreme. I find this jacket quite versatile.

Alessandro Tellini unlined and unstructured cotton sport coat. I thrifted this coat a couple of years ago for $8 I believe. It’s from a relatively unknown Italian brand that I’ve not been able to find much information about. Tellini items are sometimes available on, but rarely. This is a washed cotton canvas jacket that is an interesting combination of American and Italian elements. Unlike many unconstructed Neapolitan jackets, this one has no darts. It also has a fairly hard rolling 3 to 2 button lapel, which is a more casual look to me than the soft rolling 3 to 2 lapels of many Neapolitan jackets by the likes of Isaia, Boglioli, Sartoria Partenopea, etc., that are quite popular these days. This is a very casual jacket that I would never try to dress up. A perfect jacket for travel, as it can be stuffed in carry-on luggage without worry, and has enough gravitas for most vacation-ey activities (though I wouldn’t know, as I never go on vacation…). 

The classic Brooks Brothers wool flannel 3 patch pocket navy blazer. If I recall correctly, I thrifted this one for $2. This is the sine qua non of American blazer style. Natural shoulder, 3 roll 2 lapel, swelled seams, flapped patch pockets, and brass buttons adorned with the BB sheep and ribbon. This can be dressed up or down (with limits on both ends, of course), and is likely the most versatile jacket available for the wide variety of social occasions an American may be called to attend.

This is another classic Brooks Brothers piece. I purchased it from a Salvation Army $3 sale. It’s made of a heavier weight linen, and has rather structured shoulders—something between a typical English and American natural shoulder. It has white horn buttons, and I often wear it in a fairly casual manner. It rumples throughout the day—especially in the sleeves, which only adds to its less dressy character.

This is an older Polo Ralph Lauren navy blazer, made in a weight of wool that makes it appropriate for warmer months when the BB flannel blazer would be a bit much to wear. I thrifted this jacket for $8. No patch pockets here, and some rather ornate brass buttons with crossed polo sticks and a polo helmet. It’s from Polo’s blue label line, which is now made by Corneliani in Italy, but this is an older USA-made model which was done by Rochester’s Pietrafesa I believe. This blazer has some substantial padding in the shoulder, and gives me a slightly less relaxed look than I am wont to exude.

The last navy blazer is a recent purchase from a local estate sale. It cost me $1.50. It’s made by famed Hong Kong bespoke tailor W.W. Chan, and surely cost over $1000 when commissioned by the original owner who, lucky for me, was of a size that makes me able to wear it with no alterations necessary. It too is more influenced by the tailoring style of Savile Row than any other, and as such has some significant shoulder padding and a nicely nipped waist. I particularly like the undecorated flat brass buttons on this jacket. I can see this becoming my favorite navy blazer because of all the handwork in the garment, and the fine construction it embodies.

In any case, if you’ve made it through this long post I hope you’ve come to see a little how varied the navy sport coat/blazer can really be. I think one could easily have a wardrobe full of only blue jackets and still manage to look quite different each day. 

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