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As part of our #flannelsgentleman focus, we invited journalist and editor Simon Crompton to write a guest blog post. Simon’s blog, Permanent Style is widely renowned as one of the largest sites worldwide focusing on classic and luxury menswear.

Mastering the odd jacket

Things used to be so simple. A professional man wore a suit, shirt and tie. He may have added a waistcoat on a cold day; he may have flirted with a flower or pocket watch; but the fundamental triumvirate of suit, shirt and tie was consistent and ubiquitous.

Then came American-casual, dress-down Friday and the California tuxedo. Suddenly few men had to wear a shirt and tie. In the creative industries, it was positively shunned. But most office workers still had to don something professional and respectable. In a way they were trapped, between the T-shirt and the suit, between Google and Goldmans.

Into this arena one item has emerged as pivotal to the modern wardrobe: The casual jacket. In America they call it an ‘odd’ jacket (because it is on its own, not matched with trousers) or occasionally, anachronistically, a ‘sports’ jacket (remembering a day when it was actually worn for tennis or golf). In Britain, we are so unused to such an item that we don’t even have a name for it. The closest thing is an old tweed jacket, or cream linen option for summer.

Consider the alternative. A light grey, cashmere jacket in a simple two-button style. Soft in construction, with perhaps patch pockets and horn buttons. Smart, with a knitted navy tie, charcoal trousers and dark-brown lace-ups; but equally, at home with jeans, Converse and a polo shirt. Both between a T-shirt and a suit, and perhaps more sophisticated than both.

Mastering this garment is the key to the modern gentleman. Rules of dress used to rotate around the finishes on wool and the formality of neckwear (woollen, worsted; printed, woven). Today, they are centred around an understanding of cashmere, cotton and corduroy jackets. Each of them will be appropriate to a different office and a different evening’s entertainment. A man that understands their virtues - and buys them as long-term, investment pieces - will always appear confident and elegant: the essence of a gentleman, in any era.

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