Of Boaters and Blazers

Here Comes Summer, There Goes Summer

As the life-giving sunbeams have started to break through for summer, one of our readers sent me a photo of the hats he was readying (below) from Lock & Co and Christy's. He now has a narrow window to enjoy such headwear before the cool breezes start to arrive in August. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but tempus fugit.)

Nestled amongst the hats is a straw boater from Lock & Co. He says that he seldom wears this one, which I thought was a shame.

Boater and Blazer - Classic Anglicana

The straw boater is considered a more formal alternative to the Panama hat as summer headwear, but it really deserves more than the once-a-year outing at Edwardian-flavoured Henley Regatta or term-time at any of the Harrow school outlets now scattered around the globe.

How to wear one without looking like you are wearing a costume? Everything we wear is a costume, so you are asking the wrong question, dear reader. How best to bring out the beauty of the boater? That's a better question.

Start by wearing it with maximum devil-may-care jaunt like the chap at the top attending Henley. And don't fight the rowing connotations. Match with a navy hopsack blazer and cream flannels, and you probably can't go wrong.

If I know you though, and I think I do by now, you won't want to do things by half-measures. You will be looking for a more colourful boating blazer.

Before we know it, you will have joined a historic rowing club — they are bound to let you in — and ordered your club blazer from Collier and Robinson of Henley. Good for you.

Walter's of Oxford, who supply boating blazers for the Oxford clubs, suggest oarsmen 'follow the tradition of preserving the grime and stains accumulated during a rowing career as badges of honour'. So no cleaning required for the blazer, which makes life a little easier.

They also say that the classic boating blazer should be three-button single-breasted, with patch pockets, no vents and a single-button cuff.

Blazer fact: The word 'blazer' was first coined to describe the jackets of the Lady Margaret Boat Club in Cambridge in 1852 — as they are blazingly bright red. 

Go It Alone - Jack Wills UK-Made Boating Blazer

If, like Sherlock Holmes, you loathe all forms of society and wish to go your own way on the blazer front, you can dispense with the club badge on the breast pocket and head to Jack Wills. Wills is currently supplying a couple of boating blazers — patch pocket, no vents — that are made in the UK of British cloth.

The Ordway blazer (below) is available in blue stripe or cream flannel. I think either of those could work with a boater at your next summer picnic.


    1. The straw boater was also very popular with Australian picnickers, particularly in the early 20th century where "the fashionable young picnickers from Melbourne [wore] a straw boater, white silk shirt, blue serge sac coat, white trousers and white canvas shoes." Don't forget to pack the Pigeon Pie,


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