A Sporty History of Blazers

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A well cut blazer is a versatile part of any gentleman’s wardrobe. It can be worn with shirt and tie for more formal occasions, or even with jeans and a sweater for casual gatherings. 

A blazer is a similar garment to a sports jacket. Interestingly, both garments originate from sporty outdoor use, although a sports jacket is considered to be more formal. 

The blazer as we know it today actually came into being in the 1820s at Cambridge University. The Lady Margaret Boat Club, the rowing club of St John’s College, wore bright red jackets as part of their club uniform. 

Due to their scarlet hue, these jackets began to be nicknamed ‘blazers’. As this nickname became more well known, those in the know began to use it to describe all casual jackets of this kind as blazers. By the mid 1880s, the term was becoming entrenched.

In fact, it’s reportedly because of this that the crew of the Royal Navy ship HMS Blazer were given blue and white style casual jackets as their uniform. This was before there was any kind of standardised uniform across the Royal Navy. Some historical sources have suggested that the HMS Blazer crew were given a type of blazer jacket to wear as a kind of in joke, most likely in response to the fact that the crew of the HMS Harlequin wore harlequin suits. 

Whatever the reasoning of the captain of the HMS Blazer, the blue and white blazers worn by the crew helped to popularise both blazer style jackets and the name ‘blazer’. 

Are you interested in the history of men’s tailoring and accessories? We share regular short histories of garments such as the blazer on the Mullen & Mullen blog. As a starting point, can we invite you to read about the history of the sunhat?