A quilted blazer is, as you may have guess from its inclusion in yesterday’s outfit grid, one of my favorite autumn layers. Although it’s an unmistakably casual piece, it’s still a “step up” from a knit blazer or cardigan – depending on what you end up with, of course – and can fulfill a variety of roles. That’s because these pieces range from the technical to the luxurious, making them a good item to look out for regardless of which way your wardrobe skews. And, like a true sport coat, most can be worn with either trousers or denim. While they’re unlikely to pass muster at a board meeting or at an occasion where conservative dress is required, they’re fit for most other engagements – provided the weather is cool enough, because in most cases, the quilting works.
The quilted blazer can be found at vendors ranging from JCPenney to Brunello Cucinelli, which means that you have a lot of options if you’re looking to add to your wardrobe. Thom Browne does a number of these, both for his own line and for Moncler, but a quick Yoox search will yield a host of options. If you’re interested in a technical offering, it’s become relatively easy to find a quilted nylon example, although you’ll have to make sure you’re not winding up with something that will fall apart after a single wear. That is, usual quality standards apply. I think that a good streetwear fallback would be this piece, from Apolis – it certainly skews towards the very casual, but that doesn’t mean it would look out of place with a pair of smart-but-casual chinos or trousers.
It’s also possible to find quilted blazers more in the vein of these examples from Brooks Brothers and Thom Brown. Wool, as opposed to Nylon; cut more like a traditional sport coat, and more fitting four trousers and (maybe) a tie. Examples in this latter category can get pricey quickly, as you can find all sorts of lovely fabrics. This is the sort I like, as the natural materials used for the shell makes them quite versatile. That is, you don’t have to wear denim to look natural, but you don’t have to wear creased pants either. Here are a few examples of this look, ranging in formality.
My preference is definitely for the non-nylon look. Those are very handy, but they’re much less versatile, and you really run the risk of looking “cheap.” I’d go for a quilted natural material. My own example comes from ts(s), and works just fine with whatever I choose to put on my body. It feels like cheating, really.
Now, doing a quick internet search for the quilted sport coat makes one thing very clear: people have no idea when or how to wear them. This depends, of course, on what you’ve chosen. If it’s a technical garment, any type of jean or chino will work just fine. If it’s a more luxurious garment, the world is your oyster. And as for “when” – well, if you think of your quilted blazer as a piece of light outerwear rather than a sport coat, it will start to make more sense. Wear it as you would a heavy cardigan, wear it as you would a standard sport coat – wear it with shorts if you want to. Once the weather dips below 60F, my own quilted blazer sees almost more use than any other piece of light outerwear in my closet. I’m sure that you’ll be able to put it to good use if you’re willing to give it a shot.
I do have some final tips. First, you’ll probably want to forego the tie. I’d wager that a knit tie could work nicely with one of these, and Thom Brown has often showed his with narrow-ish neckwear; but as I’ve already said, I’d be inclined to think of this as a piece of light outerwear. Can you wear a tie? Yeah, sure. But it might not look entirely natural. Second, experiment with knitwear. In yesterday’s outfit grid, we showed a quilted blazer with a roll-neck sweater. I swear by this look. A turtleneck under a quilted jacket looks fantastic, and I’ll fight you if you say otherwise. You can certainly try a thin cardigan, or simply a heavy oxford cloth shirt, depending on the weather. And third, don’t be afraid to mix up what you’re wearing with it. Layer underneath it, wear it with jeans, wear it with creased trousers – a quilted blazer is more versatile than your standard sport coat, so don’t feel restricted. Embrace fall, and embrace the quilted blazer – you’ll be happy you did, because when you put one on it feels like wearing a marshmallow.