Would you turn my arm around and say ‘go on, what’s in your wardrobe the most? Which one has the thank-God-I-can-have-this-and-I’m-complete factor the most?’ I would say a blazer.
And if you were to ask, “What do you expect to get the most wear and tear in the coming months?” my answer would be: a blazer. And if after all that (you’re nothing if you’re not persistent) you say, “Okay, so what would you do to pass the changes on?” I would say – without missing a beat – buy another blazer. . . and the matching pants.
That is the message of this autumn pure and simple: a blazer goes with everything, makes jeans more beautiful, anchors flowing dresses, the Savile Row fits in a shirt and trousers. You can make something unobtrusively chic and expensive if you wear it with the right jacket, and this season women are doing it with blazers in historic checks and tweeds.
Shane Watson shares advice for embracing this season’s pantsuit trend at every opportunity. In the photo: Holly Willoughby
Zara makes two that are fast becoming the smart buy of the season: a plaid wool-blend one-button blazer in camel/brown or blue/grey (£79.99, zara.com). If check isn’t your thing, you can choose from at least 20 others.
When I bought a green velvet blazer at the checkout in Zara a few weeks ago (now sold out, sorry, more are coming), I asked the saleslady what the bestsellers were and she looked at me like I was crazy: ‘Blazers!’ she hissed. ‘All blazers. Always blazers!’
So we could stop there. But that’s not how fashion works. The way it works, especially now, is something gets in the place and then we want to turn it around and get more out of it.
The Birkenstock is lined with fur. The blouse got volume, the dress got longer and the jacket got its pants back.
It’s been several years since pantsuits were the go-to thing in our wardrobe. Even calling them “trouser suits” doesn’t seem quite right this time around: they’re not formal, they’re not black (unless they’re made of cord).
You don’t wear them as a uniform, you don’t necessarily wear both pieces together; they are more accompanying pieces, if that doesn’t sound too strange. A blazer with benefits.
Shane said something about soft cord that eliminates any trace of workwear while being smart enough to wear with a ruffled shirt for work or evening. Pictured: Charlotte Gainsbourg
And it starts with the blazer. Massimo Dutti’s wool blazer catches your eye – in a soft brown check or a variation of a Prince of Wales check (£269, massimodutti.com). The proportions are just right: long enough to graze the top of the thigh; fitted just enough to flatter; double-breasted with sharp shoulders; two flap pockets; a high lapel collar — and the website says ‘matching trousers are available’.
The trousers are not required, they may not even be shown together but now you may be thinking ‘matching wide leg trousers (£149)? That would be great too.’
After several years of finding pantsuits just a bit too neat and uniform, doubling is popular again.
Pictured left: Duchess of Cambridge in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Pictured right: Fleur East at The London Palladium
TROUSERS: THE NEW RULES
- Keep your jacket sharp, pants relaxed
- Try a heritage check
- Wear a slightly different shade of jacket and pants
- Don’t settle for black
If the tweedy look appeals to you (and it looks attractive right now, comfortingly chic, not just too office wear), there are good options at Me+Em, including a puppytooth blazer in cream blue and black, and matching straight pipe pants with a navy and white side stripe (£275 and £185, meandem.com). This sums up the new atmosphere of combined jackets and trousers: comfortable, easy, sporty and yet dressed. (Note: This time your jacket is not relaxed, but your pants can come with a drawstring waist).
I have a soft spot for embroidered jackets and matching trousers: something with a soft drawstring dispels any trace of workwear, while at the same time it’s smart enough to wear with a ruffled shirt for work or evening.
This season Boden has made a nippy cord blazer in six colors (£110, boden.co.uk) with a similar range of wide legs (£90). Buy them both in matching navy blues, or, in the spirit of the modern trouser suit, go for a tone-on-tone blue on blue or shades of ginger or pink.
Maybe the pants are still an afterthought (that was when I got the pair with my green blazer two days later), but we’re at the start of something here. So the next time you’re tempted for a blazer, make sure it doesn’t come with pants for some extra mileage. Hang on, in December you are looking for a velvet tuxedo.