Breaking Down the Soft Blazer


Whether you use the term unconstructed, unlined, deconstructed, or something you made up with friends, the best way to look good while avoiding the summertime sweat is in a blazer with the insides stripped out.

But temperature aside, you’re not throwing one on to dress up a t-shirt when friends come over. You have to wear it with pride, and for it to look great, it has to fit you better than anything else in your closet.

Since the padding provides extra structure to the jacket, unconstructed blazers sacrifice rigid frames for regular air flow that can keep you from suffocating in the sun. But when you gut your typical suit jacket, you’re also changing the way it hangs on your body. Think of the lining as an exoskeleton: Instead of wrapping perfectly to your body, the garment supports itself.

The point is to take the stiffness out of your outfit while looking smart, not sloppy. With an unlined jacket, your body’s doing most of the work keeping those crisp lines. This means that the jacket should be slimmer cut, since excess fabric is only going to sag. It also means you might want to do a few extra push-ups. The goal is to have it hug your body, not hide it.

If you’re buying off the rack, try on a jacket a size down to compare the fits. You should be looking for shoulders that fall naturally, and the sleeves and torso of the blazer should be snug — like an extension of your dress shirt, or like you’re wearing a fitted sweater.

Gant Rugger’s Waffle is a classic unconstructed navy blazer that walks the line between prep school uniform and office casual, but for a more formalized look, and one that you can wear year-round, our favorite is this two-button double vent slim-fitting casual blazer from Bonobos (pictured above), which is made of lightweight Italian wool. 

Pair either one with jeans or chinos — the tie is your call. Just skip the shorts and sandals, and avoid wearing it like a house coat when you’re walking the dog. This isn’t your bathrobe.