The Rake

THE SOFT TOUCH

Source: Tobacco brown linen double-breasted blazer, blue cotton shirt, cream wool trousers, red and white stripe linen tie, brown and blue silk pocket-square, all Chester Barrie for The Rake; silver tie bar, Alfred Dunhill; Classic Fusion Blue in polished and satin-finished titanium case and blue alligator-leather with rubber strap, Hublot.

The blazer has long been a divisive garment. In 1825, the Lady Margaret Boat Club, the rowing club of St. John’s College, Cambridge, caused something of a stir in the university’s undergraduate community. Like most upper-crust sporting establishments of the time, a uniform was a prerequisite, but unlike many dreary buttoned-up uniforms of the early 19th century, the members of Lady Margaret’s opted to cut informal short jackets in shockingly bright crimson flannel. The rationale behind this remains unclear, but one suspects a spot of sartorial one-upmanship was the motivation. Whatever the case may be, these bright red boating coats came to be known as blazers, such was their vivacity. Love or hate them, the trend caught on, because some 60 years later a priggish letter submitted to The Daily News queried the identity of the blazer, stating: “A blazer is the red flannel boating jacket worn by the Lady Margaret, St. John’s College, Cambridge, Boat Club. When I was at Cambridge it meant that and nothing else. It seems that a blazer now means a coloured flannel jacket, whether for cricket, tennis, boating, or seaside wear.”

Indeed, by the 1890s, the term was

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