You may already have got the message loud and clear that a blazer is what you need for now and the foreseeable future.
Wear it with jeans to smarten them up, with trousers to go one smarter, or over a longish dress to keep it from getting too flyaway romantic. It’s a go-with-everything look sharpener.
So why bring up blazers yet again? Surely there’s nothing left to say on the subject?
Well, just this: that while a plain navy blazer is a classic that will never let you down, a check blazer opens up new areas of possibility.
The must-have blazer for this winter Shane Watson recommends you consider buying this year is the Me+Em’s emerald and cream houndstooth check (pictured, £275, meandem.com)
I give you Dior’s school uniform look from its autumn/winter 2020 catwalk. Most of it — knee socks, shirt and tie, the very short grey skirt — is of no use to us, but the brown and cream check double-breasted blazer, now that we could do business with.
Not that exact one, of course, but one like it. Worn with a crisp shirt, a longer A-line skirt, boots instead of fishnet socks, this is a look that could take us to work and, with the skirt swapped for jeans or trousers, out at the weekend.
Yes, your dark blazer would work too, but checks —especially in blurred neutrals — are more preppy, playful and a lot less predictable.
This sort of blazer has a different feel — warmer and less slick. Wear it with a soft hoody or a buttoned-up blouse, and sling a cross-body bag with a decorative web strap over the front (the way it was shown at Dior), and you’re into fashion-forward territory.
The bigger blanket checks are the most versatile, but be careful of strong plaids or gingham patterns, which can look busy.
A monochrome houndstooth is a good place to start if you’re unsure. Massimo Dutti does a double-breasted style (£129, massimodutti.com), while Zara does a blazer with small black and white checks (£49.99, zara.com).
Grey Prince of Wales check is similarly entry level; maybe even easier. The best at the moment are from Zara (£69.99, zara.com) and Jaeger (£199, jaeger.co.uk).
You can’t go far wrong with black, white and grey, but the more contemporary look, and the one you could wear more easily at the weekend, is Me+Em’s emerald and cream houndstooth check (£275, meandem.com).
CHECK BLAZERS: THE RULES
- Pull on over a hoodie with trousers
- Wear a single-breasted style over a loose dress
- Go for blanket checks but be wary of busy prints
- They can office-proof smart joggers, too
It’s a one-button style and it gets the brand’s designer Clare Hornby’s vote.
The label also offers a similar version with patch pockets, available in caramel and dark brown (£192, meandem.com).
M&S Collection does a good brown mix houndstooth (£79, marksand spencer.com), which has all the ‘heritage’ hallmarks including bone-effect cuff buttons.
I’m more taken with Massimo Dutti’s double-breasted wool blazer in a mouse brown and pale heather check (£149, massimodutti.com). A check like this softens everything, so if you were thinking of wearing black leather trousers, for instance, this would be the perfect companion.
Mind you, a bit of colour goes a long way with a check blazer: Massimo Dutti has one in a check shot through with hot pink, but for versatility you are better off sticking with soft, earthy colours; you’ll also avoid those 1980s flashbacks.
Another good bet is Zara’s blazer in a smaller camel check with a classic, old-school men’s suiting feel (£69.99, zara.com). It’s got excellent go-with-everything potential and it’s a good length, too.
As always, the cut should be masculine: strong-shouldered and long in the body. The cuffs should graze the top of your hand. And do wear it a bit oversized.
Zara has an extra oversized, single-breasted, brown check blazer, like a subtle tweed (£59.99, zara.com), which would look as good with track pants as a tonal wool or corduroy skirt. A check blazer is the sure-fire way to office-proof your jeans, too. And Other Stories does something similar but more fitted, and with a trace of blue (£135, stories.com).
Actual tweed is ageing on anyone over 40, and won’t have the same ‘easy to wear with everything’ appeal.