The first navy blue blazer, a type of jacket, appeared in the late 1830s. The designer of the blazer was the captain of the British ship the HMS Blazer. He had the jacket made out of navy blue serge, a smooth twill fabric, for his crew to wear for a visit from Queen Victoria (1819–1901). The double-breasted (two rows of buttons down the front) blazers sporting bright brass buttons impressed the queen immensely, and she made sure other sailors had blazers to wear.
Other men began to wear the navy blue blazer with brass buttons for sporting events that rose in popularity during the 1920s. The members of sport clubs, especially expensive yachting clubs, began wearing blue blazers with the emblem of their club sewn on the breast pocket. Colleges and preparatory schools in England and later in much of Europe and the United States adopted the navy blue blazer as part of their school uniforms by the end of the decade. While the blazers worn by the navy had flap pockets, school blazers had patch pockets, a separate piece of fabric sewn on top of the garment to form a pocket, and often featured the school crest embroidered in heavy gold thread on the breast pocket. Both types of jackets had brass buttons, which were embossed, or stamped, with the regimental, sporting club, or school emblem.
As the navy blue blazer became associated with those who could afford the membership fees of sporting clubs or the tuition of exclusive schools, more people began to wear them whether or not they were affiliated with a certain club or school. Blue blazers became common jackets for men's work attire by midcentury and an essential part of the preppy look that started in the 1950s and achieved its height in the 1980s.
Keers, Paul. A Gentleman's Wardrobe: Classic Clothes and the Modern Man. New York: Harmony Books, 1987.
Schurnberger, Lynn. Let There Be Clothes. New York: Workman, 1991.
[ See also Volume 5, 1946–60: Preppy Look ]