The wise man’s wardrobe is built on cornerstones: the T-shirt for the beach (or the bar), a pair of Derbies for work (or a wedding), and the blazer for, well, pretty much everything.
Despite menswear’s gradual drift from dandy to dressed-down, there remain those sartorial classics that never seem to lose their clout. The blazer is one such stalwart: it’s the piece you reach for when getting dressed to boss that job interview, for wooing the one that could be ‘the one’, or for any of life’s situations where it pays to look that little bit sharper.
But styling one isn’t always easy. Indeed, too many men spend valuable time trying to pair a blazer and trousers – time they could be using to do more important things like, you know, sorting their bed hair out. Or drinking (depending on the time of day we’re talking).
Which is why we’ve compiled a handy list of the best separates combinations, so you can spend less time deciding what to wear and more time wearing it.
Navy Blazer + Beige Chinos
An indisputable classic. If this combination of two quintessential menswear colours can’t make you look good, then we’re not sure what else will.
Honour the look’s preppy roots with a structured blazer that’s actually navy, rather than midnight or royal blue, and let the occasion dictate your choice of chinos: flat-front for casual dress codes; pleat-front for something that’s a touch smarter.
Unstructured Jacket + Jeans
Want the silhouette-enhancing lines of a blazer but the comfort of a cardigan? Then just cut the bulk.
Unburdened by the inner architecture of a regular, structured blazer (padding, lining), an unstructured style is lighter in weight, cooler and isn’t cut as close to your body, making it ideal for those of us who can’t see the difference between a suit and a straitjacket.
Given the unstructured jacket’s casual lean, keep the rest of your look consistent with a pair of dark jeans or chinos rather than formal trews.
Patterned Blazer + Neutral, Smart Trousers
OK, so the blazer is sometimes boring, we get it (it’s hard to stay constantly entertaining when you’re edging 200 years). If a plain colour style puts you to sleep, then perk your look up with some pattern.
It doesn’t have to be much; a subtle Prince of Wales or windowpane check (on-trend this season, FYI) is enough to set you apart from the rest/get you noticed faster at the bar/attract potential breakfast partners etc.
Best keep your trousers low-key, though – you’re not the official entertainment.
Tweed/Wool Blazer + Jeans
Not every man is about that suited and booted life. So if you’re looking for an alternative to pocket squares and Super 100s, rough your look up a little with fabrics that are tough-as-nails – but still good for town.
The definitive off-duty combo for colder weather, pairing a textured wool blazer with jeans ensures you stay warm without letting your style slip.
Keep the country vibe with a pair of leather brogues or give it a Gallic spin with a Breton shirt and some low-top trainers.
Navy Blazer + Grey Wool Trousers
Often, the best way to stand out is by sticking with the classics. The navy suit is man’s most reliable wardrobe companion, and while wearing it as a matching two-piece will always be a winner in the boardroom, it also pays to switch things up.
Breaking up is hard, we get that, but sometimes good can come out of it – as is the case when subbing in grey trousers. Giving the matching kecks a rest day needn’t mean dressing down either, keep everything else up top the same for a modern business-casual look..
Blame it on the gendered baby clothes, but we can’t think of a better colour for men than blue. Less sombre than black, not as boring as grey, but still every bit as wearable as both, this is one colour your wardrobe can’t be without.
So why not wear it head to toe? After all, all-blue isn’t the sole preserve of swindling estate agents with weak, damp handshakes. For a more sophisticated spin, try a tonal approach, pulling together a blazer and pair of trousers that are a couple of shades either darker or lighter than each other.
Black Blazer + Grey Trousers
Rules? Who needs ’em? It’s a common misconception that trousers should always be darker than what is worn up top. However, along with wearing joggers outside of the gym and avoiding brown in town, this is one style law you can now break with our blessing.
To show off some next-level sartorial know-how, pair charcoal trousers with a black blazer for a fail-safe look. This simple combination can be applied to a range of settings and formalities, whether smartened up with shirt (and perhaps added knitwear on chillier days) or dressed down with a T-shirt on casual days.
Unless you’re so flush with cash that you’ve had to start burying it, cost-per-wear is probably still a concern when sizing up clothing purchases. Which means you need colours that play well with others.
This is especially true for tailoring; the price of T-shirts might mean you can buy them by the bagful, but blazers? Not so much.
Earth tones – off-white, beige, stone, camel, russet, khaki green, ochre, etc. – are exactly that. And not only do they work well when worn together and with punchier shades, designers’ latest outputs suggest they’ll be trending for the next year too.
White Trousers + Stone Blazer
Few colour palettes lend themselves to getting dressed in the dark quite like neutrals, and pairing hues from the lighter end of the spectrum is a shortcut to effortless style.
While black, grey and navy will always remain the bedrock of the male wardrobe, try white trousers worn with a stone blazer for a look that’s polished without being formal. As the mercury inches up, opt for trousers in a breathable linen and cotton-blend fabric and add a few rolls to the ankle for instant sprezzatura.
Green + Blue
Right in that sweet spot between sedate and statement-making, green and blue is the colour combo for guys who don’t ‘do colour’. Owing to the fact that they’re neighbours on the colour wheel, there’s a natural synergy between these two shades that makes wearing them a cinch.
Like all neighbours though, an element of compromise is key. Which is to say if you’re opting for a striking bottle green up top, then what’s on your bottom half needs to take a back seat.
Similarly, if you’re opting for a pair of jade green trousers, your blazer needs to pale – in tone at least – in comparison. You don’t want a turf war in your tailoring.