Why do we call it a Blazer?

I was curious about the origin of the term blazer so I consulted the Mighty Oracle Wikipedia. This excerpt explains a bit about the history of the Blazer as we know it.

The sartorial term blazer originated with the red ‘blazers’ of the Lady Margaret Boat Club (1825), the rowing club of St. John’s College, Cambridge. The Lady Margaret club jackets were termed blazers because of the bright red cloth; the term survived the original red coat. A writer to the London Daily News (22 August 1889) commented that “In your article of to-day‥you speak of ‘a striped red and black blazer’, ‘the blazer’, also of ‘the pale toned’ ones.‥ A blazer is the red flannel boating jacket worn by the Lady Margaret, St. John’s College, Cambridge, Boat Club. When I was at Cambridge it meant that and nothing else. It seems from your article that a blazer now means a colored flannel jacket, whether for cricket, tennis, boating, or seaside wear.

The Creative Tradition of Custom Rowing Blazers

The origin story of the blazer is interesting but where it really gets fun is when elite collegiate rowers from all over the world run with the concept. The creative tradition of designing outrageously bold and colorful blazers, sometimes made from old college draperies (and many times not laundered for entire seasons as not to ruin an ongoing winning streak) is discussed and depicted in the beautiful book titled Rowing Blazers by Jack Carlson. (Vendome Press and Thames & Hudson, 2014)  Available on Amazon.


Photo Credit: F.E. Castleberry

For those who row competitively or anyone like me with a serious blazer habit, purchasing this book is a must. While the amazing photos by F.E. Castleberry are what lured me in, the window into the lifestyles and detailed athletic accomplishments of rowing celebrities, record holders and Olympians is also extremely interesting.

My question is this: Why aren’t all yacht clubs dressing their staff in these amazing custom boating blazers? Food for thought!