By Danny McCarthy, Staff Writer

/PHOTO VIA Danny McCarthy

A relaxed yet fitted blazer is your best bet./PHOTO VIA Danny McCarthy

I should start off by saying that I’m pretty much a blazer expert. I went to a prep school, where coat and tie was the norm and Vineyard Vines was as ubiquitous as Mystery Meat Mondays — a necessary evil. So I am well-acquainted with the navy-blue devil, sewn-up pockets and padded shoulders that could rival those on any prom dress in the ‘80s.

But I have learned to redefine the blazer, and disconnect it from those preppy days. You see, blazers aren’t just for stiff formal occasions anymore. If you pick the right fabric and cut, they can be much more versatile.

Firstly, stay away from the structured restricting styles. Go for something more casual and loose; it should feel comfortable. A common mistake is going too small on a blazer when trying to achieve a slim-cut look and ending up looking like a corporate sausage. Most blazers are cut slimmer to keep in vogue with the current styles, so as long as you’re not getting swamped in an XXXL, stick to what feels natural.

Next, pick what fabric you want. The typical navy blazer comes in some itchy nylon, so I would suggest going for softer alternatives, like linen, corduroy and tweed. My personal favorite is tweed. I have a gray tweed blazer with brown corduroy elbow patches. It keeps my “grandpa-chic” style consistent. But if you’re looking to class up a summer look, go for linen. It’s light and breathable, but unfortunately easily wrinkled. Just be delicate.

Lastly, apply to your wardrobe. A blazer can take any outfit from unkempt to sleekly casual. Don’t be afraid to really go out of the box. Of course there’s the typical look of pairing a blazer with some jeans and a button-down. Get a pair of skinny-cut sweatpants, throw on a band t-shirt and a tweed blazer.

In fashion nowadays, there’s a lot of mixing between what is typically “casual” and “formal.” Ten years ago, wearing sweatpants in public might be a no-no, but now it’s the latest trend. Knock together some chic Nikes, some black sweats and a blazer, and you’ve got yourself an in-vogue, effortless afternoon look. Now you can grab that cup of coffee in style or hang out at the movies in comfort.

Blazers aren’t just for business meetings and weddings. Play around with different cuts and fabrics, until you find a blazer you like. Don’t be afraid to experiment and good luck!