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Smart Living Is 'Jacket Required' Still a Thing?

21:45  26 december  2019
21:45  26 december  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

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IN THE MID-1980S, New York City was teeming with “jacket required” restaurants: Maurice, Le Vert-Galant, Italian Pavilion, Windows on the World, Da Vinci. If you hoped to sup at any of these fine dining rooms, you needed to be buttoned-up, if not fully suited. Manhattan wasn’t the only blazer-mandatory zone: The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, Old Warsaw in Dallas and Pano’s & Paul’s in Atlanta all once demanded jackets.

a person in a room© Provided by The Wall Street Journal.

Times change. Most of those restaurants have long since closed and “jacket required” venues have become an endangered species. “I don’t hear the term that much any longer,” said Ralph Auriemma, the designer at 81-year-old New York label Paul Stuart. Some doggedly formal eateries still call for coats: the 21 Club in New York City, the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., and Galatoire’s in New Orleans come to mind. And as upper-tax-bracket golfers could tell you, most country clubs bar you from their restaurants until you’ve blazered up.

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In a few other scenarios, jackets are a “nice to have” if not a “must.” Concede to the tradition if you’re taking a date to an upscale restaurant—a place without laminated menus and with an actual real-life maitre d’—or a wedding (unless the dress code is “beachy casual”).

For events that call for business-casual attire, “you should be wearing a jacket of some sort,” said Greg Lellouche, the founder of e-commerce shop No Man Walks Alone. A jacket is also advisable when infiltrating your friend’s fusty country club or attending more formal affairs. “Some sort” is where the fun comes in. In this era of fluid dress codes, your jacket can deviate somewhat from the stodgy blazers with gold buttons and towering shoulder pads that were de rigueur during the height of requisite-jacket culture. We can now afford to take modest liberties in our color and pattern choices and compromise less when it comes to comfort.

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Amanda Sanders, a New York-based image consultant who advises men on their clothing decisions, steers her clients toward blazers that “are a little less structured. They’re sportier—some of them are soft-lined.” For some surface-level distinction, she also advocates fabrics with appreciable texture—this winter she’s liking opulent, fuzzed black cashmere. Andrew Weitz, a style consultant in Los Angeles, directs clients to pieces with open patch pockets as opposed to formal flaps, and softer shoulders, details that slash the stuffiness of a conservative jacket.

At Paul Stuart, the entire jacket collection underwent a face-lift a few years back. “The jackets are much leaner, they’re shorter, they have a more natural shoulder,” said Mr. Auriemma. The label took the step to keep pace with shoppers’ tastes, he added: “A lot of our traditional customers, they’re also looking for leaner clothes, not as big on the body, not as clunky.” He endorses jersey-knit jackets that look like a blazer but softly embrace the shoulder like a cardigan. With those in neat navy shades, “you can still put them with shirts and ties or turtlenecks or chinos and flannels.”

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On No Man Walks Alone, ever more innovative coat concepts can be found. Mr. Lellouche has watched customers gravitate toward “shackets” and patch-pocket chore coats, which he calls the “modern day everyday jacket.” Italian labels, he finds, have particularly cracked the code of the moderately dressed-down alternative. One such brand, Doppiaa, makes three-pocket, straight-hemmed unlined chore coats in a gray herringbone wool, a fabric once destined for more conservative blazers. The chore coat, neat enough to wear to most dinner parties, is “almost a derivative of a regular lapelled tailored jacket,” said Mr. Lellouche. Still, if you’re heading to a venue which adamantly insists on jackets, traditional lapels and pockets are preferred. Check the dress code before a hard-liner host mortifies you at the door.

What you choose to slide underneath the jacket can also be a fertile ground for experimentation. A shirt and tie remains a reliable combo, but is perhaps a bit stale when even the 21 Club no longer requires ties. By wearing a turtleneck as a base in winter or a band-collared shirt in summer, you can appear slightly different and “in the moment,” said Mr. Lellouche. Even when a jacket is advisable, blandness is not.

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

Write to Jacob Gallagher at Jacob.Gallagher@wsj.com

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