Winter Cords Mega Test 2: Blazers from Charles Tyrwhitt & Hawes & Curtis

Having looked at who makes the best Winter Cords I thought I might have a similar mega test of cord blazers.

This was meant to be a three way test of cord blazers: CT v H&C v M&S. However, unusually for M&S, their cord blazer was simply not up to par and didn’t make the cut. That was surprising because I am a big fan of blazers from M&S Man. M&S blazers in 38 Long usually fit me wonderfully well.

However, not in this case. The sizing was all wrong, the blazer was too short and the quality of the tailoring just not up to their usual standards. I can’t quite work out how this cord blazer got past M&S’ usual quality controls. Looking at customer comments on their website, some people loved it, though a number expressed similar sentiments to mine. So something went wrong somewhere. Sand Cord blazer 2, Tyrwhitt So the mega test is slightly less mega with the M&S blazer eliminated early on. But what of the other two? Corduroy blazers are an interesting example of the blazer. They run the risk of looking a little too ‘geography teacher.’ Especially if they have elbow patches, they look like they are trying too hard.

However, if worn well, with appropriate accessories the cord blazer can have a certain edginess. That is certainly the case with the cord blazers from H&C and CT. There isn’t a single elbow patch in sight and both are beautifully tailored and well presented.

Cost

Both of these blazers are no longer easy to find on sale. The Charles Tyrwhitt Sale ended last week in its online store but you will still be able to find the Tyrwhitt cord blazer on sale in store for £79. The Hawes & Curtis blazer is last season and only available now via discount retailers like T K Maxx, at £59. Advantage H&C on price but CT on availability (if you have access to a CT store). Navy Cord Blazer, Tyrwhitt

Fit

The most important element of a blazer is not colour, or fabric, or patterns or who made it. It is simply its fit. This is demonstrated by these blazers in graphic terms. The H&C blazer is a thing of beauty. The colours are wonderful and the fit is just so for me. Beautifully tapered and very flattering.

However that is the good news. As with a number of H&C blazers and jackets they come in only a single length, which is too short for me. The blazer is thus about an inch too short, which I can live with in a casual blazer. But the sleeves are also at least an inch, possibly more, too short. This I struggle to live with. I look like I’m wearing my kid brother’s clothes, or even worse, my teenage son’s.

CT on the other hand do offer their cord blazers in both regular and long fits, however given that this is an end of season sale it is tricky to find the correct size. I evaluated two blazers, the first in sand in a 40 long. The sand is a beautiful colour but the fit of the 40L was not right for me at all.

However, there were no 38 long sand cord blazers left in stock on the online store or the Jermyn Street store. So I ordered a second in olive in 38 long simply to get some idea whether a 38L would fit any differently.

Violet Cord Blazer, TyrwhittIt arrived in super quick time yesterday, which was perfect timing. The good news is that the fit is exquisite. It is amazing what a difference wearing a blazer in the correct size will make. 

The 40 long made me look like a frumpy old guy. The 38 long made me look like an edgy cool guy with sufficient self confidence to wear corduroy. Incredible. I’ve said it before, and will continue to say it again and again, the most important element of style is fit. Advantage CT.

Colours

However, this is where the bad news begins for CT. The wonderfully fitting olive cord blazer was not very olive. It was brown. There was very little olive about it. Unless they meant dark olives, and even they are not that colour. I checked with my wife on the basis that all men are at least a little bit colour blind and she was also of the view that it was brown. Dark brown.

CT’s cord blazers also come in navy and ‘violet’ ( think plum and you are probably in the ball park). Neither colour is especially attractive, though I am always open to blue, of course. The exception is their cord blazer in sand. Olive Cord Blazer, Tyrwhitt However, whilst it is a lovely colour, it pales in comparison with the richness of the equivalent colour of the H&C blazer in a sort of dark tobacco. It is just fabulous.

I already have a H&C cord blazer in my collection, in a wonderful shade of blue. Nearly every time I wear it I have had someone come up to me to comment on the colour, including a number of colleagues who are not especially sartorially inclined. Whoever is in charge of selecting the colours of the H&C fabrics knows what they are doing. H&C wins this round.

Perceived Quality

A tricky one, this, because they are slightly different animals and sit at different price points. The ‘official price’ of the CT blazer is £200 whilst the H&C is £300. The reality is that they each sell for far less than these prices but that is where they are pitched.

CT’s item is unlined, whilst H&C’s is fully lined. The former is aiming at a more relaxed look, the latter a comparatively more formal. Conversely the cut of the CT blazer is a classic cut, which looks to my eyes a more formal look, whilst the H&C item is in a slim fit with patch pockets which looks less formal. Swings and roundabouts come to mind.

20140116-234629.jpg
CT’s working button cuffs

However, each is well tailored, well presented. The Tyrwhitt blazer, like all CT Blazers and jackets, feature working button cuffs. These working cuffs have very little practical function. How often do we need to roll up out jacket sleeves after all? But I have to confess that it is a really cool feature.

The H&C blazer counters with superior colours and its own little button feature. The buttons on the front of the blazer feature a tiny button on the underside of the fabric, I presume to enable the buttons to be sewn a little more securely to the fabric. However there is something about the quality and heft of the CT fabric that makes it feel just that little more upmarket and creates the impression of higher quality. CT takes this round. Just.

Customer Experience

CT offer a full range services in store and online. You can source your entire ensemble from head to toe, or hats to shoes. I ordered the sand cord blazer for collection from their Leeds store. The CT Leeds staff were courteous and knowledgeable and I got the full treatment including a Charles Tyrwhitt branded suit bag.The olive cord Blazer was ordered online. It arrived in super quick time but with no suit bag. And in a somewhat battered cardboard box.

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H&C’s own ‘button feature’

H&C in contrast do not at the moment offer suits or blazers online. These are only available in store, and selected stores at that. So if you do not live near a full service H&C store you are out of luck. H&C really do need to address this and soon. In any case I sourced these H&C blazers from T K Maxx. Advantage CT.

Overall

I found myself is conundrum here. I loved the colours of the H&C blazers and the very flattering fit but was irritated by the fact that it was too short, especially at the sleeves. I did wonder about having it adjusted but wasn’t sure that there was enough fabric to be able to make a significant difference.

It must be admitted that I already have in my collection an H&C cord blazer in a wonderful shade of blue. The one in dark tobacco I have been evaluating for this comparison is meant to be the same size but somehow seemed just slightly shorter than the already slightly too short one in my collection.

Sand Cord blazer, Tyrwhitt

Against that I loved the fit of the CT blazer in 38L but it was in a so called olive colour I didn’t really like. The one I liked in sand was only available in a 40L which didn’t fit properly. I concluded that the CT blazer was the winner overall but that neither of the blazers I was evaluating would find a place in my collection because each would require too many compromises to be made.

As I was due in London for meetings today the arrival of the second CT blazer yesterday was great timing. I could squeeze in the time to visit Jermyn Street, as I try to do whenever I get a chance when in the capital, and it would provide an opportunity to return both the CT Blazers.

But there was a surprise waiting. Turns out that the neighbouring CT store in Regent Street had one sand cord blazer in stock in 38L, which they would be happy to exchange. And as I had a £10 CT voucher it meant I could get it for even less than the sale price.

So I did.

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