Rowing Blazers

Sunday, July 4, 2010
I had a rowing blazer made for me in club colours by Tom Brown Tailors a few years ago. It's a decent made-to-measure, with just two fittings and seems to be largely machine stitched. Nevertheless it is, as you would expect from a tailor with such a good reputation, very nicely made. (Apart from the fact that second colour is not really correct, that is. Tom Brown always seem to make them this way. Perhaps they can't find any properly maroon cloth.)

Rowing blazers are a bit unusual. Typically they are fairly unstructured, with an absolute minimum of canvassing, and no chest piece. Mine has a three-roll-two button stance, which is best for the sort of soft, casual, look that is normal for this sort of blazer. The informal style is added to by having large patch pockets (the side ones on mine are about the right size for carrying a bottle of champagne. I'm just saying.) and just two cuff buttons. Most unusually of all, all of the blazers I've seen are, like mine, ventless. This strikes me as odd because it's not a particularly casual or informal style, as having a single vent might be. If anything, it is a rather formal cut that would normally only be seen on dinner jackets and, even then, only rarely these days. On a structured jacket this can give a very nice slim appearance, although on the softer rowing blazer it's less obvious. I still haven't quite worked out the reason for the lack of vents, whether it is simply a relic of when blazers were knocked up quickly from bits of cloth in the club colours, and anything that added to the tailoring work was avoided, or whether it is just to avoid breaking up the stripes that are common on rowing blazers.

A rowing blazer like this is very rarely suitable anymore, if it ever was. The material is far too heavy for it actually to be a comfortable option on a summers day, even if it was appropriate, so it is restricted to relatively formal summer sporting events. A more generic stripy blazer in a slightly lighter-weight wool might have more general use, but then that would take half the fun out of it...