(Our iconic clothes 7/7) The blazer

(Our iconic clothes 7/7) The blazer

He is 26 years old and is said to be in love. In the grounds of Windsor Castle in the mid-1970s, the Prince of Wales is photographed alongside Lady Jane Wellesley. That day, Charles exudes a certain charm. His riding outfit is no stranger to it. With aviator sunglasses on his nose, the eldest to Queen Elizabeth II donned a double-breasted blazer that perfectly suited his sporty figure.

Worn with mismatched trousers, often cut in a fresco wool waistcoat, fitted with gold, silver or mother-of-pearl buttons, this jacket is revealed in this photo in majesty. Some will see it as a chic and relaxed, elegant and classic style. The others will perceive a bourgeois ensemble, stuffy and outdated. Nevertheless, the blazer has everything of an iconic garment. Its history is written in the plural. The blazer first appeared around 1820 in the rowing clubs of Britain’s leading universities. It is embroidered, adorned with a braid and cut from a canvas streaked with brightly colored stripes.

In Cambridge, a club opts for a vermilion fabric. These sparkling hues give it its name, “flamboyer” being said to blaze in English. The blazer was born a second time in 1860. “During a visit from Queen Victoria, the captain of the ship HMS Blazer asks his crew to put on a navy blue jacket adorned with brass buttons that contrasts with the white trousers,” says Hayley Edwards-Dujardin, art and fashion historian. The outfit seduced high society from 1900 for sports practice, before being popularized in the 1930s.

From Janson-de-Sailly to haute couture

In the post-war period, the baby-boom teenagers brought it up to date. “The ultimate is then to wear a blazer from the Renoma tailor with 180 moccasins from JM Weston, renamed “Janson-de-Sailly”, the students of this prestigious high school in western Paris having adopted them. It is not uncommon to see these twinks, often from good families, hanging out at the Drugstore Publicis on the Champs-Élysées,” says Raphaël Sagodira, doctoral teacher at the École du Louvre and consultant to luxury brands. But this fashion is fizzling out.

The 1980s marked the great comeback of the blazer. The designer Ralph Lauren, inspired by students who frequent American campuses, helped popularize the Preppy style, a mixture of relaxation and conservatism.

In the meantime, this jacket has taken over the female wardrobe, notably under the influence of Yves Saint Laurent. In recent years, Olivier Rousteing at Balmain has revisited this classic by drawing marked shoulders, symbol of a powerful, emancipated woman. And today, in thrift stores, men’s pieces from the 1980s are especially sought after by… customers. “They favor large sizes with broad shoulders. Loose-fitting pants or shorts go with the whole thing,” notes Frédéric Marc Marion, founder of the Elephant Vintage Store in Lyon.

“The feeling of becoming an adult”

For men, blazers were abandoned in favor of suit jackets, or cut from fabrics in various colors and patterns. Arnaud, 34, has put his in the closet. “I no longer wear it but I remain attached to it. This blazer belonged to my father; he gave it to me for my first parties as a teenager. It touched me, I felt like I was becoming an adult,” he recalls.

In the sartorial milieu, which brings together enthusiasts of the art of tailoring, the blazer continues to be worn. But here too, he is losing ground, served by his lack of originality. Still, fashion is an eternal renewal. Will the blazer become trendy again in the men’s wardrobe? We take the bet.

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