As a key piece in the Ralph Lauren man’s wardrobe, the classic navy blazer reflects the preppy American spirit behind Ralph Lauren. Featuring notched lapels, a single-breasted silhouette and three brass buttons, this piece has been indispensable to the RL look since our first menswear collections in the 1970s. Today, it still conveys a sense of ease and luxury when mixed with other staples, including chinos, oxford shirts and cable-knit sweaters.
The blazer we wear today likely evolved from two different jackets. The first was worn by the British Royal Navy throughout the United Kingdom. As legend has it, in 1837, a young Queen Victoria was planning a visit to the HMS Blazer, and the ship’s captain was so nervous about his crew’s unkempt uniforms that he outfitted them in double-breasted navy suit jackets, each adorned with brass Royal Navy buttons. The queen liked the look so much that she decreed that the whole navy should adopt them. The look later gained widespread appeal on Savile Row, where civilians commissioned similar jackets with the same shining buttons, but this time without the Royal Navy insignia. These styles—with a double-breasted closure and six buttons—are still used today, especially when creating nautical-inspired looks.
Featuring notched lapels, a single-breasted silhouette and three brass buttons, this piece has been indispensable to the RL look since our first menswear collections in the 1970s.
Another story suggests the traditional single-breasted blazer likely evolved from colorful club jackets designed by rowing teams throughout the 19th century in England, where these pieces were worn specifically for regattas and other sporting events. With a trimmer silhouette, these pieces mirror the blazers that are used in our Ralph Lauren collection today. Other design elements that are offered—including patch pockets, double side vents and embroidered crests—were also born from this sporty style.
More than 100 years later, the navy blazer remains a modern essential that draws on both of these British influences. In the United States, the jacket became a common choice in the first half of the 20th century among prep school and college students, as well as other east coast gentlemen, who wore these jackets with the grey flannel trousers that were emblematic of 1950s style. Since then, the navy blazer has become an indispensable part of every man’s wardrobe thanks to its heritage, versatility and tailored refinement—all of which are defining Ralph Lauren qualities that will never go out of style.