One of the perks of the Italian Invasion has been a serious uptick in adventurous blazers. Like raw denim before it, an odd jacket can be a great way to dress up without looking like you’re trying to impress the boss—which should make it one of the more versatile items in your closet. But as with any patterned piece, it can be dangerous territory if you don’t know your way around.

So to help you get the most out of your next odd jacket, we’ve put together a quick roadmap of what’s great and what’s risky. It’s simpler than you think…

Cucinelli Blazer

Keep it Quiet
The goal here is a subtle pattern, like a black watch tartan, a Prince of Wales plaid or this Cucinelli blazer. It can be a big pattern, but as long as the colors involved are in the same color family, you’ll be able to wear it without too much risk of clashing. By the same token, you’ll want to stay away from loud plaids or contrast-y single checks unless you’ve already got a closet full of more subtle options. They’re on the trendier end of the odd jacket spectrum—more icing than cake. If someone can see the pattern in your jacket from 50 feet away…it’s safe to say you won’t be wearing it very often.

Isaia

Know Your Labels…But Don’t Get Too Trusting
Italian brands like Isaia and Boglioli get so much love in the blogosphere, you might think they could do no wrong…but it’s not so. In any given collection, versatile jackets like this one are rubbing elbows with louder items like this. The fabric and detailing will always be top-notch, but Italian fashion houses like to take risks just like the stateside ones—and it’s up to you to tell between the staples and the statement pieces.

Austin Wong

Get Adventurous With Color
There are plenty of great tweedy options, but you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to try a bolder hue. The texture of the jacket gives you a natural anchor to explore the yellows, greens and purples that might not find their way into your wardrobe otherwise. For proof, check out Austin Wong doing great things with a purple Isaia jacket.

Prince would be proud. And so would Mr. Agnelli.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom