This week I received an email from a young guy just discovering traditional American style. He was in need of a blazer and wanted to know all the proper Ivy details and then where to get one. I offered up the usual suspects, but told him there are many variables, price being the first one. Then there are all the differences in fit, shoulder construction, a two-button undarted from The Andover Shop versus 3/2 darted from Ralph Lauren, et cetera. Oh, and must you have a hook vent?
I told him all I can merely do is be a kind of counselor who helps him arrive at what he wants, which is ultimately something only he can decide. He’s the one with the priorities and dealbreakers. He responded by writing, “I guess I’m after the Holy Grail of blazers.”
So he wasn’t exactly sure what an Ivy blazer was, but whatever it was it had to be perfect.
Now Holy Grails, as you’ve probably heard, are notoriously difficult to find. When it comes to grail clothing items, you need to go custom if you want everything on your wish list. And guys who’ve been getting their clothes custom for decades will tell you that things never turn out 100% as you’d hoped.
Recently I became fortunate enough to get pretty much my grail blazer. I’d been without a navy blazer for a long time, unsure exactly how I’d wear it. Then Jay Walter, head of J. Press’ custom program, kindly offered to make one for me, and it was finished just recently. Here are some photos (excuse the mediocre selfies made with my camera’s self-timer).
I opted to go with a doeskin fabric, flap but not patch pockets, two button cuffs with working buttonholes, lapped seams and swelled edges, and an 8.5-inch hook vent. Jay chose the bright blue lining. The shoulders came back from the New York tailoring house a bit too structured, so I had Jay’s finishing man alter them, which he did superbly. The buttons Jay said are some classic J. Press buttons he had lying around.
I’ve used the blazer here in a kind of dressy outfit I’d wear to a concert or something, with a French cuff, spread-collar shirt and cashmere tie from Ralph Lauren, custom tapered trousers from Brooks Brothers, and cracked shoes by Peal for Brooks. Look closely, you’ll see why that’s the last cashmere tie I ever buy.
So what’s your Holy Grail navy blazer? Have you already found it or are you still searching and saving your pennies? — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD