Creating An Ideal Navy Blazer


I wanted a classic double breasted navy blazer with metal buttons for a good while.

However, given my locale and budget restrictions the landscape offered slim pickings. I couldn’t buy a new RTW one, and I failed to find a suitable option in a vintage store or online that had everything I wanted.

It appeared I was going to have to take the matter into my own hands, and alter something to suit my needs.

Now, decent double breasted jackets essentially doesn’t exist in RTW or vintage places around Adelaide, so it was time to hit eBay.


Acquiring the Jacket, and Forgetting To Take Before Pics…

I tracked down a Canali DB jacket for sale on eBay one day for around $60AUD. It was in good condition, with quality fabric and cupro lining. I had a few Canali pieces in my wardrobe already and was somewhat familiar with the usual cut and fit, so I decided this would make a good base for the project.

It was sized as a 54L, which I knew was likely to need some taking up with the stated length measurement hovering arround 33.25 inches (my ideal is between 31.5 and 32). However, the sleeve length was good and it appeared that the chest and waist would be well fitted from the start.

Most importantly, the long cut meant the button stance would be dropped. My only issue with Canali’s regular length DB jackets is the button stance being higher than I’d like, which I’ve noticed causes some unnecessary broadening of my torso. This long one looked like it would be perfect.

canali double breasted suit
Canali’s 54R button stance. Thickens my torso a tad too much, in my opinion. I don’t want that effect on me.
P.S. excuse the ridiculously short sleeves. I didn’t know any better at the time.

Waiting Time and Making Changes

The jacket arrived pretty quickly, so I tried it on. The length was even longer on me than I’d thought, and I actually wondered whether it was going to be too long to take up – I was apprehensive that the required amount of hem-raising would bring the hip pockets too close to the bottom of the jacket.

It also came with plain black buttons, which of course needed to be swapped out for some metal ones.

The nailhead fabric isn’t what many would consider a first choice for a navy blazer, with serge/twill/hopsack/linen being the classic choices. I liked it though, deciding it still worked with a large variety of combinations given the subtlety of the pattern as well as being somewhat unique.

The length of the jacket rather spooked me at the time, so I left it in the wardrobe for a couple of months.


One day I remembered it as I was going to see Michael at Beg Your Pardon and decided to take the jacket with me to get a second opinion on what I should do with it. He reckoned it would work nicely and shortening the jacket to the required length shouldn’t throw the proportions out, so I decided to take the plunge.

I acquired a set of gold toned metal buttons from the Button Bar, and left it with Michael.


The Result

I think it turned out every bit as good as I had originally hoped it could be, when I purchased it. This jacket had really good potential with the button stance and width, the nicely extended shoulders and the lapel size. The new buttons take away the bland formality of the solid navy buttons that were on it, and lend it a distinctly classic nautical vibe.

The nailhead fabric has turned out to be quite versatile, as it’s so small in size that it simply appears more as a texture than a pattern. This means I can put stripes of any size and direction with it, but it’ll also take on a great appearance when paired with check shirts. Additionally, it plays well with textured fabrics like linen and seersucker as the weave takes on the textured appearance once more.

The only downside to using this blazer – for me in an Australian climate – is that it’s fully lined, and the nautical nature of the blazer’s appearance does tend to lean towards more warm climate outfits and colour stories. However, being a Canali jacket it’s lined with Bemberg silk rather than cheaper alternatives and has a touch of breathability to it.

If I get really fed up with it, I can always look at taking some of the lining out to make it more seasonally appropriate. But first, I’ll see whether I end up creating many wintery outfits with it; if I do, I’ll likely leave the lining as is.

In the mean time, I’ll continue to wear it and enjoy it.


Conclusion: a versatile piece is born

I’m glad I took the plunge in turning this jacket into a traditional blazer. It’s also given me a good lesson in how much length I can take off of a jacket and still keep it proportionate.

For example, it’s lucky that I used a flap pocket jacket rather than a patch pocket jacket for this. With the patch pocket construction being entirely visible, there’s much less wiggle room in how much shortening can be done. Meanwhile, the flapped pocket is a good choice for shortening; even if a patch pocket might have been a better choice for a more casual jacket.

Altering and modifying ready to wear items is ultimately a game of compromise. I’m happy with how this iteration of the game played out.


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