It has often been noted that the phrase ‘smart-casual’ is near-unparalleled in terms of striking terror in the hearts of the British male. Honestly, when the only two words in a compound phrase contradict each other, just how well can a logical person be expected to do? Fear not, help is at hand.
After a torturous deliberation process involving endless bouts of staring at the words ‘smart’ and ‘casual’ individually, we came to the conclusion that if there is a single item of clothing that perfectly epitomises the perilous balance between the two, it's the patch pocket blazer.
With chameleon-like versatility, it blends in with just about everything you can throw at it, ensuring one can never really be over- or underdressed when donning one. Here’s a round-up of a few of our current favourites, all built for warmer weather and made from 100% cotton:
1 Uniqlo (left)
Uniqlo continues to set a formidable standard on the High Street. Staple items like its oxford shirts, chinos and flannels are always of a high standard, and for less than £30, you can’t really go wrong with their Soft easy jacket. Available in four colours, our favourite is the cement grey. £29.99, shop.uniqlo.com
2 Oliver Spencer (middle)
We have made no secret of our love for Oliver Spencer over here. Season after season, he produces fantastically tailored, consistently wearable items, and his jackets never disappoint. The Travel jacket, shown here in green, features three patch pockets, three leather buttons, and an external draw-string waist so it can be as fitted or loose as you wish (or are forced into). Also available in navy and stone, we can’t sing this jacket’s praises enough. Oliver Spencer travel jacket (available in green, navy or beige) £289, oliverspencer.co.uk
3 Universal Works (right)
Headed by Paul Smith alumnus David Keyte, Universal Works has been producing fine quality, workwear-inspired clothing from small factories since 2008. The Suit jacket is a prime example of everything the brand stands for; as casual as you like, the jacket is lightweight, unstructured and unlined, with a two button closure and patch pockets. Team with navy chinos and an oxford shirt for a flawless spring look. Available in navy or beige, £139, www.oipolloi.com
Words by Gordon McGowan