Dressed Up: Exploding Jackets

It’s great that the scope of menswear has completely accepted the sport coat as a standard.  We’re way beyond the Navy Blazer at this point.  Given the exposure and that general acceptance of these jackets gives way for some bolder options.  By ‘bold’, I mean deep plaids, stripes, checks, and patterns that become the flare piece of your outfit.  Since these jackets act as the flare, I like to call them ‘exploding jackets’.  I can’t take 100% credit for that term – F.E. Castleberry started it.  More on him later.  ‘Exploding’ refers to the blown up, or bold patterns.  Rather than micro-checks or subtle plaids, these jackets are magnified.

I absolutely condone the over-use of exploding jackets.  It is such a cool look, as long as it’s done right.  It is a mature look, and it requires confidence to pull off.  Ladies love it, so the value prop is high.  Here are a few examples of how to do it right:

This example from Drake’s: A very bold, wool jacket with a solid shirt, club tie, and flannel trousers.  Everything except the jacket is as basic as it gets, and the jacket works perfectly.  Trade out the trousers for a pair of good jeans, and you’ll accomplish the same look.

The above image is from F.E. Castleberry, who has his own tailoring business, doing high end suits and jackets.  His exploded wool and cashmere Glenn plaid jacket is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.  As for styling: “My school of thought when it comes to pattern is: More is more. Our cashmere and wool exploded Glenn plaid jacket is paired with a bold Bengal stripe button down and a wool striped club tie. For us, it’s about mixing patterns while matching the proportions of those patterns with the jacket’s.”

Read Wall, a men’s store in DC, does a ton of exploding jackets.  This pattern is a great example of a starter exploding jacket.  It almost doubles as a navy blazer.  The key to this look: a solid shirt.  Stay away from plaids and U-stripes when sporting an exploding jacket.  Pair this jacket and a blue oxford with good jeans or charcoal trousers and you are in business.

This is a great example of Sid in one of his exploding jacket.  Green and pink on cream.  I guarantee you never go to the store saying ‘I’d love to find a hunter green and pink plaid jacket’.  It’s one of those things that just happens.  The green and cream keep it earthy, and the pink gives it punch.

Lastly, don’t forget khakis.  The grey plaid above (Drake’s) is a dressed up version of the exploding jacket, as well as one of the most versatile.  Good, tailored khakis are prime candidates to top off with an exploding jacket.  Pair it with suede loafers and a white shirt…hard to beat.

I’ve started a collection of ‘exploding’ jackets, and believe it or not, they all get a good bit of wear:

L-R: Gant Rugger | Tombolini | Ledbury | Vintage | Vintage | Jack Spade | Hilfiger | Southern Proper

Remember, all you need to pull these off is a good pair of jeans, a white/blue/bengal stripe shirt, and good dress shoes or loafers.  I usually wear an alligator belt with a monogrammed buckle.  It’s a bold look, but it’s good to be bold.

There are PLENTY of options out there, and for every good one, there are ten bad ones.  Stay away from the 70’s gameshow host look, and do it right.  Here are some excellent examples of what to look for:

From top left:

1 Sid Mashburn Kincaid No. 3 Jacket:  They always do it right.  Follow their lead.
2. Drake’s Camel Glen Check Wool Jacket:  If there was a ‘want list’, this would be number one.  I love the brown on brown plaid.
3. Peter Millar Flynn Cashmere & Wool Jacket:  Peter Millar has a knack for picking out great patterns for their jackets.  They have officially graduated from being a golf company.
4. Suit Supply Havana Red Check Jacket:  Suit Supply has some excellent options, and at a good price point.  The style is the same, but the colors are varied.  Check #8 for the grey version.
5. Boglioli K-Jacket Alpaca Blend Blazer:  The K-Jacket is about as cool as it gets.  Almost completely unstructured, the jacket is the coolest over shirt in the room.
6. Lardini Light Wool Flannel Blazer:  This is a three button, which I usually stay away from, so I’d wear it as a 3/2 roll.  The olive and blue is an excellent look with some APCs and dark brown suede tassel loafers.
7. Southern Proper Gentleman’s Jacket:  Yep, I have this one, and wore it on my anniversary date.  Mrs. RCS said I looked like a million bucks.
8. Suit Supply Havana Grey Check Jacket:  The grey option of the
9. Billy Reid Walton Sport Coat:  Billy Reid has that ‘Alabama-cool’ vibe, using vintage colors and patterns.  There’s lots of rust, but in a good way.
10. Brooks Brothers Regent Multi-Windowpane Sport Coat:  Don’t sleep on the Mothership.  They have a bunch of examples of these exploding jackets, and almost all of them go on sale.

What about you?  You on board?



  1. Brad
    09/30/2016 / 9:06 AM

    In my opinion (coming from a former haberdasher), a man needs one blue blazer and a closest full of these.

  2. James
    09/30/2016 / 10:53 AM

    The last few posts perfectly encapsulate why I love this blog!

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