A navy blazer is a staple item in every well-dressed man’s closet. While not all men can one have one custom-made, we purchased offerings from several popular retail brands (at a price point under $500) and gave them a thorough review. Find out if they’re worth it in this video!
The Best Off-the-Rack Navy Blazers Under $500
Without a doubt, a navy blazer (or navy jacket otherwise) should hang in every well-dressed gentleman’s closet. It’s season-less, versatile, and pairs with almost every other color in your wardrobe. You can wear a navy blazer to an interview, dressed up for weddings, or dressed down with jeans. The trick, then, can be finding a quality blazer–especially if your budget is $500 or less. So what we did is went out and ordered 18 different jackets from 9 different retailers to compare their offerings and see which one was best. We paid for all these jackets with our own money, so this video comes to you 100% unsponsored.
A navy blazer is a staple item in every man’s closet.
In trying to find the most versatile navy blazer, we looked at the following criteria:
- Under $500
- Two buttons
- In a true navy color
But it was actually not so easy, because not all brands offered that particular style. We ended buying jackets from H&M, Bonobos, Suitsupply, Uniqlo, Banana Republic, Orvis, Brooks Brothers, Topman, and Zara. Of course, you can find other brands too that offer this type of jacket but this is what we found when we went online.
We ordered 18 navy blazers from 9 different retailers.
For example, we did try to find offerings from other retailers like Gap, which didn’t have anything that met our criteria. Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss had blazers that met our criteria, but not under that $500 price point. We each got one jacket per brand; size 44 regular for Raphael and 38 regular for Preston. We’ll be ranking them on a few different criteria (on a scale of zero to five stars), including:
- Fit off-the-rack
- Quality of the construction
- Quality of fabric itself
- Styling details
Blazer Brand 1: H&M
First up, Raphael got the H&M “Slim Fit Wool Blazer” which costs $199; which is twice as much as any other H&M blazer simply because it’s made out of wool, ironically, though it’s only 98% wool and 2% Elastane; not a hundred percent. This was a machine-made blazer as opposed to being handmade, and it was also made in Romania. If you wanted this wool blazer, you had to get it in a slim fit with notched lapels; there weren’t other styling options. Of course, for $199 you can’t expect any kind of handwork. It’s definitely a jacket, it’s on the shorter side which was in line with modern tastes. It didn’t have much the shoulder padding and the interlining wasn’t very stiff which is actually comfortable.
There was visible wrinkling around the midsection in the sleeves and the body.
The sleeves on this jacket were actually pretty slim, which wasn’t ideal for Raphael. Most current slim-fit jackets have slim upper sleeves but they often restrict your range of movement. The H&M was kind of the middle of the pack; it wasn’t too restrictive but also not super comfortable. The H&M slim fit wool blazer has very slim lapels in line with modern trends. It has crisper wool which is not too soft, but what bothered Raphael was the wrinkling around the midsection in the sleeves and the body; they wouldn’t go away.
They also had a quite short center vent.
In addition to that, there was a little bit of collar gap on that jacket for Raphael, but nothing we would call terrible. Collar gap is just something Raphael often has to deal with when buying off-the-rack jackets, because of his natural physique. They also had a quite short center vent; Teresa even said it looked like an extension of the wearer’s butt crack–but at least it wasn’t gapping. Overall, the jacket had the effect of looking shorter in the back than it did in the front (another common feature of OTR jackets).
The buttonholes were surprisingly nice.
The best way to prevent this is to go bespoke, because not even made-to-measure can prevent that. As was the case with a lot of these jackets, it would probably have to be steamed once you got it out of the box for it to look better, but at the same time with wool that was this crisp, we would have thought that it would have draped better. Frankly, the buttonholes were surprisingly nice, and the sleeves had kissing buttons. So, pros and cons here: there was slight piping on the lining, but there were other things like loose threads around the vent of the jacket. In terms of the range of movement, this jacket was in the middle of the pack.
Raphael’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Meanwhile, Preston got the “Skinny Fit Blazer” for around $80. This one was 100% synthetic, but there were trade-offs here, and we decided that we might try to go for a better fit over a better fabric. When in doubt, even a nicer fabric won’t help you if the jacket doesn’t fit you, and Preston is quite thin, so he needs to pay attention to this. Otherwise, a jacket will look like a potato sack. This jacket was on the shorter side, in line with more modern styles. Even so, there was extra material around the sides and in the back, so the fit wasn’t ideal.
Preston got the skinny fit blazer for $80.
It was textured a bit like a faux grenadine material, which was kind of interesting but we could tell that it was not wool. One thing we noticed right away was a considerable collar gap, even while Preston was standing in a neutral position. Of course, they could have been worse when he started moving. The faux grenadine ended up making the jacket look cheap, because it had kind of a shiny finish. It did, however, have jetted pockets and peaked lapels which were quite nice.
Preston gave this jacket 1 out of 5 stars because of the cheap material and feel, and also because the fit wasn’t very good.
Preston’s Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 2: Bonobos
Bonobos offered two navy blazers with three fits: slim, athletic, and standard. They also had a short, regular, and long option. Their jackets came with a notched lapel, side vents, and patch pockets which we think is quite nice because it’s a slightly casual element. One interesting thing to note about Bonobos is that on their website, wool blazers cost roughly the same as blazers made from things like nylon or spandex. For Raphael, we got an unstructured wool blazer with fabric from Vitale Barberis Canonico for $400.
The patch pocket is quite nice on this jacket.
This jacket was made in Vietnam, and right off the bat, we noticed that the quarters were more closed than we were expecting. Fortunately, the shoulders had no padding and were quite soft, which is to be expected with an unconstructed jacket. Fit-wise, we noticed there was a little bit of excess fabric in the waist that could probably be taken in. Raphael liked the length, wider lapels, hopsack fabric, and lower buttoning point. What bothered him were the sleeves, which were too slim and constricted his range of movement. When he moved, the jacket had a large collar gap and was uncomfortable–which is sad, because Raphael really liked the fabric and the unlined nature of the jacket.
This jacket retails at $400.
The sleeves would have to be shortened, but this wasn’t a big deal. Similarly, there was a little bit of wrinkling across the back, although we think this is partly due to the fact that Raphael’s shoulders are naturally a little uneven. All told, the fit was a dealbreaker.
Unlined jacket from Bonobos
Raphael’s Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars
Meanwhile, Preston’s jacket was the “Jet Setter Stretch Italian Wool Blazer.” This one was also $400, but it wasn’t 100% wool; rather it was 70% wool, 29% cotton, and 1% elastane. It had a summery feel and was noticeably slimmer than Raphael’s jacket. The fabric had a bit of stretch but was actually almost too tight for Preston, which doesn’t happen often! Especially across the top of the back, it was very constricting. In addition, there was also some pulling at the buttoning point which had the odd effect of making the quarters of the jacket stand away and out from Preston’s body, which looked a little strange.
There was some pulling at the buttoning point which had the odd effect of making the quarters of the jacket stand away and out from the body which looked a little strange.
At the same time, we thought that the patch pockets were nice and the lining was decent. The sleeves had four buttons but no buttonholes, so they would be easy to lengthen or shorten. The lapels were a little bit on the slim side, but not too much. Similarly, there was again a little bit of collar gap, but not so much that it would be a deal-breaker. In our opinion the jacket was slightly too short, but again, short jackets are the trend now, so that’s hardly surprising.
The sleeves had four buttons but no holes so it makes it easy to lengthen or shorten it.
Preston’s Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 3: Uniqlo
Uniqlo’s jackets only came in medium, large and extra-large sizes. Because it’s a Japanese brand, we assumed it would run quite small, and so we got sizes on the bigger end–which was a mistake because their jackets were really, really large. Uniqlo also offers a custom program that allows you to choose measurements for the chest, the length of the jacket, and the sleeve length, but of course, that wouldn’t qualify as an off-the-rack jacket. On top of that, we couldn’t figure out if we could return a jacket if we ordered it and it didn’t fit. So, both Raphael and Preston got the “Men’s Stretch Wool Slim-Fit Jacket,” which frankly, looked more like a suit jacket in navy blue than a true blazer.
Uniqlo’s XL ended up being too big for Raphael.
This jacket retails for about $150, and we got the XL size for Raphael at first (which corresponds to a height of six feet and chest 44 to 47), so we figured that would be right, but it fit like a tent. It was just way too roomy and big, but it felt comfortable because the fabric had 2% of spandex to 98% of wool. This jacket again has a more modern style with a center vent and a slimmer lapel; also, there wasn’t a lot of shoulder padding.
The spandex made the jacket a lot more comfortable.
The fabric was softer than that of H&M, but for $150 you just can’t expect top-notch fabrics. Now, the spandex really helped because it increased the range of movement and made the jacket a lot more comfortable. Once we got the XL size and realized it was too big, we also got the L size shortly thereafter, and it fit much better. This jacket did have a lining, and it also had flapped pockets which are pretty standard on a lot of the jackets we looked at.
What Raphael liked about the Uniqlo jacket was the high armhole; even though the sleeves were rather slim, the added flexibility of the fabric paired with extra fabric in the back made the jacket super comfortable. It also meant that the collar didn’t gap too much–or at least less than all the other jackets. When we ordered the jacket, it just came in a small package and so it had some wrinkles on the sleeves. We used a steamer to get out the wrinkles, but unfortunately, this didn’t quite work. In order to get the wrinkles out, you’d have to iron the jacket. It had a bit of pick stitching which was machine-made. Raphael would have given the XL jacket 1 out of 5 stars, because it was simply too big, but the L fit much better. The wool wasn’t as good but it was definitely the most comfortable of all of the sampled jackets. We were impressed by the sleeve length, as well. For 150 bucks, that’s hard to beat, off the rack!
Raphael’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
As mentioned, Preston got the same jacket model here as Raphael, but in a size M. The smaller sizes were for men 5’8” and under, and since Preston is over 5’10”, we decided that going any smaller than medium would be inadvisable. Looking like an orphaned suit jacket, this garment had too much fabric for Preston’s build and had huge armholes. Out of curiosity, Raphael tried it on, and this is actually what inspired him to order the size L jacket after the fact!
The Uniqlo jacket was oversized for Preston.
Preston’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 4: Suitsupply
SRS: Next up is Suitsupply. For Raphael, we got the “Havana” navy jacket in size 44. Comfort-wise, it was better than Bonobos. It also had a lot more styling details, including a rounded barchetta breast pocket, no lining, and faux buttonholes, but Raphael really liked the look of it. This jacket had the least amount of wrinkles out of the box and looked good while standing naturally. Unfortunately, it all was a little snug. Even though a 44 regular is usually Raphael’s size, a 46 probably would have been better here, because Suitsupply’s jackets seem to run a little small. We would suggest you try a Suitsupply jacket in person, or you go up a size (or sometimes even two) from your standard.
The sleeves, again, were very slim here so there was a limited range of motion. But because the fabric had a little bit of give, that compensated at least somewhat. The fabrics that Suitsupply uses in the sub-$500 range are pretty much high-quality. Also, details such as pick stitching are the most present in Suitsupply jackets (seen on the pockets and lapels as well as elsewhere). Overall it’s a wrinkle-resistant jacket and Raphael liked it a lot better than the Bonobos jacket, but it was still a little tight and there was a collar gap, so it was uncomfortable.
Raphael’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Meanwhile, Preston’s Suitsupply jacket was a 38 regular in blue from their “Washington” line, and even though he liked the peak lapels on it (as they did a lot to accent his chest and figure), there was still a lot of collar gap. Because of this, the jacket also rode up kind of oddly in the front. The fabric was nice; it’s from an Italian mill called Angelico, and it did drape a little bit nicely in that regard, but the fit still killed it overall. It also had really short sleeves and funny details, such as five cuff buttons and the combination of peak lapels with patch pockets, though the unlined back was a nice touch. These odd pairing are common for Suitsupply; they also market things like suit pants with drawstrings, for example.
Preston’s Suitsupply jacket had really short sleeves and funny details such as five cuff buttons.
Preston’s Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 5: Banana Republic
Fit-wise, Banana Republic offers a pretty standard lineup, meaning that they have standard and slim chest widths and also short, regular, and long lengths. Interestingly, even though we wanted a blazer, here we had to technically order a suit-separate jacket, because they didn’t just offer regular blazers. (Here’s our comprehensive list of the differences between suit jackets, blazers, and sport coats.) Now, with a price of $398 for this jacket, we had high expectations. We got a size 44 regular for Raphael, but he was quickly disappointed. It had a stiffer interlining and the fit wasn’t good. The sleeves had kissing buttons and the lapels and collar of the jacket were both on the smaller side, with the effect that it stood away from his frame a little bit.
The sleeve length of these jackets is longer than the others.
The jacket had side vents, the fabric wasn’t super soft, and in terms of movement and range, it was roughly on-par with the H&M jackets. It also had larger armholes, shoulder padding, and a lower-quality fabric (a stretch virgin wool from Italian mill Marzotto which is 99% of wool 1% elastane).
Raphael’s Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars
Once again, Preston got the same jacket at the same price–but of course, in a 38 regular. The lapel was definitely super slim and the position of the buttoning point was good, but overall, the fit was just way too large throughout the body. The slightly stiffer inner lining made it feel more mass-produced, especially compared to the fabric of Bonobos or maybe Suitsupply, and as they were in the same price range, this was disappointing.
The fit of the Banana Republic Jacket was much too large on Preston.
The sleeves of this jacket were a little bit longer than some of the others, which was positive for Preston (who has long arms for his build). It had four cuff buttons and faux buttonholes. This could actually be a bad thing, because when you have too much detailing, it’s harder to change the length of the sleeve; a tailor might have to do it from the shoulder rather than the end.
Preston’s Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 6: Brooks Brothers
Brooks Brothers‘ lineup was quite impressive; they had four different fits (including skinny, slim, and standard, and one that we found more difficult to understand), and also different lengths, as well as an extra-large option. Their jackets were also a little more interesting; they had cool linings, contrasting threads, and so on. Overall, it was fun to shop on their website. All the classic fit blazers in the “Madison” style are over $500, so Raphael got what was called the “Regent” fit, which was somewhere in-between a slim and a regular one. Out of the box, it felt really lightweight and breathable with a nice fabric. It was definitely more comfortable than the Suitsupply jacket; maybe not quite as much as Uniqlo but that was pretty much the only one that it was beaten by in terms of comfort and fit.
Mother-of-pearl buttons on a Brooks Brothers blazer.
This jacket was unlined across the back, and it also had mother-of-pearl buttons, which made it an actual blazer instead of just a sport coat or orphaned suit jacket. This was evidence that Brooks Brothers has some knowledge of its own history. The interlining wasn’t super soft or super-stiff; Raphael thought it was a good blend. This jacket was fairly wrinkle-resistant and probably could have been worn right out of the box–which was quite surprising! It was made in Thailand, and generally fit well; it just gapped a little too much around the collar, and when moving around it wasn’t quite as comfortable as Uniqlo. Raphael liked the Bemberg lining, as well. Curiously, while we ordered the 44, and the paper tag said 44, the jacket tag said 43. On top of that, out of the box it had actually a hole in the sleeve.
Raphael’s Brooks Brothers jacket had holes out of the box.
We don’t know if it was just returned and the quality control wasn’t good in the returns process, but as a customer, when you receive stuff in a different size than ordered with a hole, it obviously makes for a negative experience. Still, this jacket scored high overall.
Raphael’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
When it came to Preston’s selection, Brooks Brothers only had one option under $500 in a slim fit, which they called the “Stretch Roll Twill Blazer” from their Red Fleece Line. Also strange here: the fabric wasn’t actually twill, so it seems like Brooks Brothers’ staff and knowledge level is not quite what it used to be. This jacket was made in Thailand as well, and it did have contrasting buttons (this time in a gold color) sewn on with red thread, so again, it did look more like a true blazer. On top of that, it had a bold red-white-and-blue lining and patch pockets. The lapels were a little slim, but overall, we’d say that stylistically, Brooks Brothers had the best blazers. There wasn’t too much in the way of collar gapping, and while the armholes were big, they definitely weren’t huge.
The jacket had gold buttons sewn in red giving it a true feel of a blazer.
Preston’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 7: Orvis
Orvis is mostly an outdoor and sporting brand. Although they do offer a few more formal garments, the only true blazer they have in their lineup is called the “Traveler’s Hopsack Blazer.” It sells for $329, is made in India, and has gold buttons and flapped patch pockets, which out of this lineup was actually quite unusual. Style-wise, it also had three-roll-two styling, meaning it’s a three-button jacket but you roll the lapel so it’s longer, and just button it on the middle button. Sizing options here were a bit more limited; the jacket is only available in regular chest sizes with two lengths, regular and long.
The Orvis jacket also features a three-roll-two button configuration.
Raphael got a size 44, and to him, it felt and looked like a typical 1990s jacket. It was oversized, the sleeves were big, and everything was roomy. We would definitely suggest to size down with Orvis jackets, because they run huge! We did like the gold buttons, and the fabric was sturdy (but had a nice feel) and was fairly wrinkle-resistant as well. This was probably the longest jacket in our lineup. It was all machine-made; the fabric wasn’t 100% wool, but rather a blend, so it will probably wear warm and lead to increased perspiration. Overall, this is a jacket that makes you look like a grandpa. If that’s the look you’re going for, that’s great–but most people will likely not look flattering in this Orvis blazer.
Raphael’s Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
As usual, Preston’s jacket was a 38 regular, which was actually the smallest size they sold. If Raphael thought his jacket fit large on him, Preston’s fit absolutely like a tent! It was enormous, and it looked like a potato sack. Even though the three-roll-two, the flapped patch pockets, and the gold buttons were nice details, and the lapel was a good size, the details don’t matter if the fit is unacceptable.
Despite the nice details, the Orvis jacket still fits like a tent.
Preston’s Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 8: Topman
This British label is known for cheap fast-fashion, so they didn’t have a whole lot of options for navy blazers. Raphael got a skinny fit blazer in size 44 regular with notched lapels which retails for $130. The first thing we noticed about this jacket was that the quarters were very rounded and very open, so Raphael’s shirt and waistband would probably show quite easily while wearing this jacket. While that on its own is okay as a stylistic thing, what Raphael really disliked was the fit; in terms of the range of movement and comfort level, the Topman jacket was the most constrictive on Raphael out of all jackets we tested. While we know they’re trying to go for a really slim cut, “slim” shouldn’t mean you can’t move!
The quarters of Raphael’s Topman jacket were very rounded and very open.
This jacket was made in Vietnam and had some more modern styling details, like a super-slim lapel, flap pockets, and a straight chest pocket. The skinny fit and the feel of the jacket led Raphael to give a very succinct review “uncomfortable s**t.”
Raphael’s Rating: 0 out of 5 stars
Preston also got a skinny fit blazer, but his was marketed as “warm-handle,” which means that it’s a thicker and heavier fabric. The price point here was $150. We liked the look of its silhouette, but it had this greenish undertone which made it almost not look like a navy blazer. Since Preston’s a skinny guy and Topman provides a skinny fit, you’d think that it would be a pretty good match. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case! Just as the lapels were super skinny, the fit overall was so slim that Preston found it very constricting and had almost no range of motion in it.
The fit of both TopMan jackets was very constricting and had almost no range of motion.
It’s our guess that the Topman jacket designs were meant to just look good when you stand and not move at all (in other words, good on a model if you have a modern understanding of men’s fashion), but they’re not really meant to be worn by average people. This jacket had four kissing buttons on the sleeves, with just a faint suggestion of buttonholes, which was a little bit odd.
There are four kissing buttons on the sleeves with just a faint suggestion of buttonholes.
Preston’s Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Blazer Brand 9: Zara
Last but not least, we got jackets from the Spanish fashion label, Zara. They’re also more fashion-forward and going with the trends, but we were able to find one classic blazer. Again, it was a textured weave birdseye suit jacket. For $149 (now selling for $70), Raphael got a size 44 regular, with a composition of elastane and viscose, and it was noticeably not as nice (even though it was soft). This jacket was made in Turkey, and its quarters were cut away in sort of a classic silhouette.
The Zara jacket’s soft exterior and stiff interlining made for an unpleasant combination.
While the fabric was somewhat soft, the interlining was a little stiffer, so overall the combination wasn’t really great. Brooks Brothers and Suitsupply definitely felt a whole lot nicer–even Uniqlo was a little better. We noticed the arms here were kind of slim, which limited Raphael’s range of movement, and there was also some collar gapping as well. There was definitely some wrinkling in the sleeves, and overall, it felt like a cheap, low-quality jacket.
Raphael’s Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars
Preston once again got the same jacket here, just in a 38 regular fit. The thin fabric wrinkled quite heavily on Preston, and the jacket had four cuff buttons on its sleeves. The boxy look that it had on him probably wasn’t traditional, but rather something they were going to be more trendy deliberately (as boxy fits are now being seen again on fashion runways). The fit of this jacket seemed pretty strange, in that there was a lot of excess around Preston’s waist, but at the same time, it was tight in the shoulders.
There were a lot of wrinkling in the sleeves of both Zara jackets.
Preston’s Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Conclusion – Which Blazers Were Best?
|Brand Name||Raphael’s Rating||Preston’s Rating||Brand Average|
|Brooks Brothers||3||3 (Favorite)||3 (Best Overall)|
|Host Average||1.56||1.33||True Average:
1.47 out of 5 stars
Looking at the ratings, Raphael’s favorite was the Uniqlo jacket, because it fit him the best and was the most comfortable. If he would have gotten that fit with a Brooks Brothers or a Suitsupply jacket, he would have liked those more, because they have better fabrics. Preston’s favorite was the Brooks Brothers jacket, largely because of its more traditional styling details and because the fit was decent. As you can tell from all of Preston’s ratings, though, most all of the jackets across the board had relatively poor fits on him (probably because of his unique build).
Raphael’s favorite was the Uniqlo jacket because it fit him the best and was the most comfortable.
Keep in mind that you won’t get good fabrics in a jacket unless you get pretty close to the $500 mark–but if you don’t have a big budget, that doesn’t mean you can’t dress stylishly. We suggest that you look for secondhand goods at places like eBay or a local vintage store because there, with $150 or $200, you can get a jacket with a retail price of maybe $1000 and it’s often gently worn. However, it’s important that you know your measurements, because returning stuff is a little more difficult (even though these days, it’s a lot better than it used to be 10 years ago).
In terms of brands, look for Ralph Lauren Purple Label; Polo; Hugo Boss; maybe something like LBM, which is completely unstructured; Chester Barrie; and Italian brands like Belvest, for example. They pop up more rarely, but if you get something there, usually the prices are lower and it’s overall a huge bang for the buck.
Preston’s favorite was the Brooks Brothers jacket because of its more traditional styling details and because the fit was decent.
If you are not looking at vintage as an option, but at the same time you don’t want to go with off-the-rack, what other options do you have? In a lower price category, online made-to-measure such as Indochino is really a good start. They also have physical stores now, so you can get measured in-person. If they screw up the fit then you’ll get reimbursed or they’ll remake your suit. Also: stay tuned, as we’ll be doing more made-to-measure content and suit brand reviews in the future!