When I say ‘college blazer’, what comes into your head? Lantern-jawed 20-somethings in 1950s school-boy caps carrying wooden oars down to the river on a chilly morning?
That’s understandable, but believe it or not, classic British sporting style is having a moment. In fact, fashion brands both here and across The Pond have got into vintage sportswear, and contemporary interpretations of preppy staples hit this season’s catwalks in droves.
Ralph Lauren leads the pack, with its mad-but-great madras-check outerwear, repp stripe ties and signature tweedy Polo tailoring – not to mention its Polo Stadium and Snow Beach capsules. Other American icons like Gant and J.Crew have upped the ante, too.
Closer to home, Kent & Curwen ticks a lot of sporty boxes. ‘Our collection’s primary inspiration comes from mid-century sports teams,’ says Creative Director Daniel Kearns. ‘Traditionally, we associate sports kit with conformity, but often the best sportsmen wear theirs with a rebellious touch, to express some personality.’
If you’re looking to update your summer wardrobe, you could do a lot worse than get in on the trend. ‘The college blazer’s an important part of our style heritage,’ continues Kearns. ‘We wanted to rejuvenate it; remove the preppiness and play with its proportions. Ours feel very modern and lend an edge to a clean-cut look.’
Hackett is also championing the college blazer and the brand’s paterfamilias, Jeremy Hackett, agrees. ‘Spectatorship is a sport in its own right,’ he says. ‘The sporting circuit is known for its rules of dressing, and striped blazers offer men the opportunity to lighten up. Many of our customers are wearing one when the plain navy blazer is perhaps too safe.’
Making the most of this trend isn’t hard. First, choose one sporty piece and let it do the talking – wear a blazer or varsity bomber over a plain casual shirt or crew neck – and keep the rest of your look simple. Avoid formal lace-ups in favour of trim white sneakers.
Didn’t think sportswear was for you? Experiment this summer and you might just change your mind.