In Depth

Ralph Lauren: The Crested Blazer

A key component of the American preppy look has roots in British history and can now be personalised at the brand's Regent street store

Apparently, the term 'blazer' derives from the red jackets worn by the Lady Margaret Boat Club (1825), the rowing club of St John’s College, Cambridge. There is another story that the crew of HMS Blazer wore blue and white striped jackets before the Royal Navy had uniforms - a habit still in evidence on that boat as late as 1845 - and this may have something to do with the idea of the striped jacket being a blazer.

In any case, this separate, casual jacket certainly has naval and sporting connotations. It became part of the style adopted by US Ivy League university campuses. What we understand as 'preppy' style was introduced as early as a century ago by those students, though the look really took off in the 1950s. The US preppy wardrobe often references the clothing that upper-class Englishmen wore for sports like rugby, tennis and golf and rowing, of course.

Preppy style is a perfect blend of smart and casual, and it is something Ralph Lauren, designer of great American apparel and sportswear, has always appreciated. It suits a culture that believes in the power of social mobility - the American Dream - but also has a certain laid-back insouciance unlike the more uptight British gentleman’s tailoring tradition of Savile Row.

Lauren has a great single-breasted blazer in navy, which you can customise with a pocket crest featuring your own monogrammed initials. This personal service is available exclusively at the Ralph Lauren Regent Street store and is part of a more general Polo Custom Shop project that enables customers to personalise several different items with a number of crests, monograms and patches.

Here we have styled up the Ralph Lauren Crested Blazer in five different ways, using accompanying pieces from the Ralph Lauren collection to show the versatility of this separate jacket. Our model is Lewis Burton, a tennis pro, in recognition of the fact that Ralph Lauren is the official clothing partner of Wimbledon, a place where the label’s blazers are worn by the officials as part of their tournament uniforms.

Blazer, £425, Ralph Lauren; available exclusively at Polo Ralph Lauren, 169-173 Regent Street, London, W1B 5TQ; 020 7113 7400; ralphlauren.co.uk

Photography: Bryan Adams; styling: Jo Levin; photo assistant: Haydn Vooght; digital tech: Rhys Thorpe; hair: Tyler Johnston at One Represents using TYLER by Tyler Johnston; fashion assistant: Julia Lurie; model: Lewis Burton at Select Model Management

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