One trend that shone through for men during Melbourne's recent Spring Fashion Week runway shows was the rise of the statement blazer.
Dom Bagnato's sea-blue wool/linen jacket with a white window pane check caught many eyes, as did Godwin Charli's collection of cotton and wool blend jackets in energetic shades of blue.
Linen or cotton will work well coming into the warmer months.Lachie Watson
Warmer months in Australia typically mean jackets are left hanging in wardrobes, yet Godwin Hili, the founder and creative director of Godwin Charli, says men are using this as an excuse to roll out lively, lightweight jackets with a more relaxed feel than the traditional blazer.
"I think this season it'll have a massive impact. Softer through the shoulders, rather than being so structured and precise, an unstructured jacket's almost meant to fit you like a shirt," says Hili, who witnessed the jacket's popularity at Milan's recent fabrics fair, Milano Unica.
"The movers and shakers of the fashion world were there making decisions for the next 12 to 18 months and you look at what everyone is wearing, as that usually sets the tone. In terms of men's jackets, it's separate [to the colour of a man's trousers], it's unstructured but extremely tailored."
Will this end the lazy man's habit of teaming a suit jacket with a pair of jeans or chinos when a smart casual dress code is called for? Probably not, but it puts the practice on notice that there's a new sheriff in town.
Know your fabrics
Wearing a jacket on a warm spring or summer's day necessitates a little foreknowledge about fabrics, in order to avoid creating a man-made lake between your shoulder blades.
"Linen or cotton will work well coming into the warmer months," says Lachie Watson of tailoring firm Oscar Hunt. Even a wool/silk blend will still stop you from overheating when the sun is out, but is also perfect for layering in winter.
Watson is also adamant that lighter materials, though delicate, don't want for character. "Linen and cotton will typically crease more than what wool does, but it's not meant to be perfectly pressed and worn like it's the first time you've worn it. Even with a cotton or a linen, most jackets will still have some canvassing structure in them, which will then mould to your body, so it will look really fitted but that casual element of creasing gives it character."
Safe colours such as navy, grey or beige will remain popular; but those who want to add a point of difference to their wardrobe, and maybe even some eccentricity, are turning their attention to bold patterns or bright colours - or even both. There is now so many more fabric options that if you can picture it, you can probably get it made.
Oscar Hunt, for example, stocks a selection of plain and patterned fabrics from producers including Italian fabric house Solbiati, English cloth merchant Huddersfield Cloth and Anglo-French luxury cloth maker Dormeuil.
Even the man who struggles to dissociate patterned jackets from his grandfather's old plaid sport coat, might just find himself fixating upon a glen plaid check, perhaps even with a windowpane check laid over the top.
Watson says most men looking for a statement blazer tend to choose between either a bold colour or a bold pattern, but seldom both.
"We get clients who just want to go big on colour and we'll have clients who say they're happy to go with a staple-based colour but want a big check through it," he says. "Once they've got maybe one or two staple-based colours then I find they get a bit more adventurous."
Five tips for shopping for a lively blazer this spring/summer:
● Blends of linen, cotton, wool and silk are great for characterful, casual lightweight blazers. Save your mohair, wool and tweeds for the colder months.
● A more casual jacket typically has less structure in the shoulder, which gives it a more relaxed feel.
● Pockets, lapel widths and button holes can all be used to great effect to differentiate a blazer from a suit jacket.
● If you're after versatility, a staple colour such as navy remains your best bet.
● If you want to ratchet things up you might want get to know your checks. Windowpane, glen plaid and Prince of Wales checks all work brilliantly in blazers.