10 September 2010

Greensleeves

The navy blazer with brass buttons is a well established essential item in the wardrobe of a well appointed gentleman. I've heard it said by better writers with more authority than me that a man could survive with only a navy blazer and a pair of charcoal slacks, a couple of white shirts and a couple blue, a few ties, a pair of brown loafers and a pair of black lace-ups and successfully survive nearly any sartorial situation. But this post isn't about navy blazers.

In the past, there were times when a blazer in dark green was a secondary alternative to the standard navy. I stress the word "secondary". The dark green blazer is not for the faint of heart, and it's a tough nut to crack. I've always wanted one, and I've experimented over the years, but never with complete success. Until today, I think.

Before we continue, a qualifier on color and photography is in order. All colors have variation of tone and temperature within a family. Green can be brown, or blue, or even yellow. One shade can look good on a guy, and the next can make him look like he's got a skin condition. Additionally, it's hard to photograph; additionally I'm no photographer, and my camera is cheap; additionally, every computer makes things look different. So bear with me and trust my descriptions of the photos that follow.


I always figured the green blazer would be nice in the Fall, given that it's an earth-tone. Yesterday, I tried one with a simple blue pinpoint shirt, stripes bow tie and paisley square. The blue shirt keeps things just conservative enough, but the bits of gold in the tie and square give life to a drab color....maybe.

Since we are in the midst of the "in between" , and it was bright and warm that day, I kept it fresh with some crisp khakis and some pale yellow cotton socks, picking up on the gold up top.


Not bad, but not all there. Swap the green jacket for navy and the whole thing would have been downright classic. So any problems I have with this are in the jacket. For one, the tone is way too brown, too dreary. Also, this jacket is actually the top half of a suit, one that I could never really pull off, either. That's not altogether impossible to do, but in this case, the cloth is all wrong, and I really think a brass buttoned blazer is best with patch and flap pockets. You don't have to tell me, I should have known better. Still, I'd love to find the perfect green blazer.

So today, I find this jacket. A proper green blazer, in a brighter shade more in the blue family, for $6.99. It needs some minor alteration, and clearly a cleaning and pressing are in order. I estimate the final cost of this one to be about $25.


Brooks Brothers "346", early seventies vintage by my guess. Which means this is way before the "346" label was a strictly made for the outlet affair. Inside one of the pockets is a tag stating that it came from a Brooks Brothers factory. You see, once upon a time a brand name was more than just a tag in the neck.


Rendered in thick, but soft flannel. All the details are there: patch and flap pockets, undarted front, 3/2/ roll, but the corker is the open patch breast pocket. Bonus points! I fully expect to get a lot of Master's Tournament and pool table cracks over this one. Can't wait! It's going to be perfect with grey flannels or cavalry twills, under a camel coat.


As though all this weren't enough, the thing is fitted with a full set of real bone scrimshaw buttons. Why anyone would put something as Summery as scallop shells on a green flannel coat is beyond me, but once again we score bonus points. Those buttons will eventually find their proper home on some seersucker, hopefully by next Summer. Until then, I think I'll stash them.



As luck would have it, just two weeks ago my father saw this set of brass buttons in a knick knack shop, and picked them up for me. He said he thought of me when he saw them, and he knew I'd find a good jacket for the to live on. Right away, I was on a mission to find the perfect green coat. Boy, that didn't take long at all. Interestingly, these buttons have the same crest on them as the buttons on my J.Press hopsack blazer, the one I wear every other day until the cold weather comes, when I retire it in favor of one in flannel.


And while we're on the topic, remember this one? I was determined to prove you all wrong, but you were right. This thing is just wrong. I wore it once, but the minute I got to work I took it off. I thought a change of buttons would do this one good, but there's no saving it. I guess I'll just donate it back to charity, but really no one should wear this jacket, unless they're dressing as an S.S. waiter at a Nazi charity ball for Halloween. Even then you could do better. Oh well, we all have our moments, I guess.

Green jackets are tough, but not impossible. If you're feeling bold, give one a try, but be careful. It's important here to be extra picky. Don't buy until you find the right one. I tried to talk myself into the wrong one twice, with various results, all some degree of negative. But I'm sure I've got the right one now.

You'll see.

20 comments:

letrouvere said...

When I was in high school, I had three blazers, two navy blue and one forest-green.

Young Fogey said...

The key to green is, as you mentioned in the third paragraph, the right shade of green. It is very possible that shades of green that are flattering to one's complexion are not really appropriate for a blazer; it's also incredibly likely that in today's world of boring, uniform men's clothes, you can't find the right shade of green outside of a bespoke tailor's shop.

For you, Giuseppe, I'd guess that a dark pine green, cool with blue tones, would work, but that a warm, yellow-hued or brown-tinged green would not.

And no one looks good in lime green, even if the color is flattering.

Love those scrimshaw buttons! What an amazing accessory for a green blazer, but also great for seersucker (green, right? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Three years ago I found a hunter green blazer with brass buttons and patch pockets at a thrift store. The label is David Taylor, which I hadn't heard of, but for $4 I was willing to try anything.

I'm glad I did; it has become a spring and fall favorite. Every time I wear it someone makes a compliment. Green combines so well. It's not olive, loden or lovat but truly green. I find I wear it more in spring and early summer with khakis or natural linen. I didn't realize it until you wrote it but my favorite shirt and tie combinations with it do work equally well with my BB navy blazer.

So keep searching! It's a great look and I know you have the confidence to pull it off. And thanks for such an interesting and thoughtful blog.

Claude said...

I actually have a blazer quite similar to your green Brooks 346, quite similar, only in yellow, of all things. I've worn it once w/stone chinos and it work surprisingly well, I thought.

I've been reading your blog all summer, and I enjoy its "superficial trivialities" immensely. Thanks!

-Claude

Anonymous said...

The green blazer is a forgotten classic. I had one years ago and loved it. It was a lighter weight wool and I wore it with khaki pants, yellow oxford and a tie that really pulled it together. I have been looking for another one but with no success. I guess the search is part of the fun.

Best regards,

JRC

melvin said...

i would love to have the green db,if u really want to let it go...

tintin said...

I've seen blazer buttons in Paddy Whack shops but they require a bone.

tintin said...

An SS waiter would be wearing black Hugo Boss. Google the National Socialist Party and you'll see that jkts.

Back in the '80s, 346 was not outlet. And if that's a forest green doe skin flannel then the '80s is what you got. Not made for outlet! If I have to keep educating you I'm gonna start charging you.

If it's the right (forest green) kinda green, from a distance it'll look almost navy. I had a southwick forest green and it was beautiful. Pairs perfectly with cavlary twills and brown paddock boots or a suede loafer. I'd look for some enameled buttons with a bit of red in them. You could call yourself, Luck Strike. Before the war. Pay pal me $2.57 and we're even.

Giuseppe said...

Tin Tin,

That's the one exactly...doe skin...forest green...soft as anything.

As for "346", I know. This is the real goods.

As for payment, get in line. You might want to save a couple of months and just send the bill straight to a collection agency. Why the hell you think I wound up such a cheap bastard in the first place.

As for the S.S. waiters, they wouldn't even wear this coat. That's pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

What an odd blog: an Italian playing WASP dress-up. Hmmm. Don't you have better things to do? I smell poseur.

Giuseppe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giuseppe said...

You go ahead and-a smell-a whaddayou want, buddy. And-a while you at it, go-f*ck-a youself.

I'm a mostly gonna wear-a t-shirt, wit a red wine stains all over.

You mutha, she like-a that way, eh?

That's a some-a spicy meat-a-balls, no?

Twomartinis said...

I think the 1st blazer needs another chance - the blue pinpoint shirt you used has a red hue in it. Complimentary to green on a color wheel, but not here...

Anonymous said...

actually, that's something i've always wondered about, and could be an interesting post: how can you tell the difference between the different brooks brothers jacket/suit labels? i've seen many different kinds. what about the white rectangle with yellow characters? what decade is that?

Sam said...

X-Ray Spex: "I am a poseur and I don't care..."

We are all poseurs - so what? Isn't that what makes life fun?

Anonymous said...

Aren't you too old to be playing dress up?

NCJack said...

Now, Giuseppe, be nice...or nuke the bastard like you did! I'm a tenth or so generation WASP American, and he can kiss my rebel a** too.

Now, back to why I hate you so much: full patch perfect color and fabric for under $10!! The local Jr. League thrift keeps putting full patch navies in the 46 rack when they're actually 40s and 42s...just to pull my chain I know. Green blazers can be tricky, golfing comments being the obvious, but that deep green in a flannel is righteous. Had one in high school.

And wouldn't you know that the family is rallying, and a friend getting married, right around Top Shelf Flea time? I'm retired, don't have two appointments every three months, but when I do mark down a date...might be able to get there anyway, gonna try.

Jho78 said...

There's a green DB blazer in the new J Peterman catalog. The top of the page reads, "Only the Italians". It's worth a look-see if only to read the description.

Jho78 said...

Also, those scrimshaw buttons would make sweet cuff links until they find a permanent home.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you are an expert in this field, you really got some great points there, thanks.

- Robson