Look Better On the Move

Months of Testing Prove This Is the Lowest Maintenance Blazer You’ll Ever Own


June 26, 2019 Style By Photo by Bluffworks

Bluffworks Gramercy Travel Blazer Review Highlights

Pros:
The Gramercy Travel Blazer is very wrinkle resistant.
It’s machine washable and can be tumble-dried, which is extremely rare for blazers.
The jacket is available in both slim and regular fits, as well as long sizes.
The Gramercy looks far more traditional than most technical blazers on the market.
It’s fairly affordable at $295.
You can purchase matching travel pants to complete a suit.

Cons:
The overall look is somewhat conservative.
The jacket’s polyester fabric doesn’t feel like familiar wool blazers.
It’s not sold in a traditional solid navy color.
It’s available only online, so you’ll need to think carefully about sizing before buying.

Conclusion:
The Bluffworks Gramercy Travel Blazer is one of, if not the best, examples of a true travel blazer in its price class, making it a recommended buy for anyone who travels long stretches for work and values a more traditional look.

What is a travel product exactly? Sometimes the term just means small and portable, other times it’s code for extra security features (read: zippers and secret compartments). In the world of apparel, the word travel implies a level of versatility, comfort or ruggedness not present in traditional iterations of the garment.

When I’m feeling cynical, I see the latter notion as just another form of fantasy indulgence. At its most aspirational, the idea of travel clothing speaks directly to that muttering voice stuffed in the basement of many minds. It’s that whisper goading people to slam the brakes on daily life — the responsibilities, the obligations, the schedules — and strike off to parts unknown in search of real, soul-filling experiences. The kind that apparently require long stints away from washing machines, convenience stores, comfortable surroundings or secure places to store your possessions.

Video: The Bluffworks Gramercy Travel Blazer

Watch more of This Week In Gear video reviews.

In fairness, a few people travel this way enough to justify such robust equipment; more power to them and their Instagram accounts. The stresses we put on our clothing during typical trips, though, mostly mirror what we do during a long day at work, or over a busy weekend.

We walk around. We sit in various seats. We keep our phones, wallets, glasses and chapstick close at hand. We go outside. We go inside. Sometimes we carry bags on our shoulders. We eat. We drink. We spill. Sometimes dipshits spill on us. Irons, steamers and other wrinkle fighters aren’t easily accessible. They’re approximately 26.9 minutes away in our home. Same-day laundry services are unicorns, and only viable if you have another set of clothes with you, which you don’t. And yet, we manage it all wearing basic cotton, denim and wool. It begs the question, is travel clothing really necessary?

But the real beef I have with the concept tracks closely to the bad joke about the mysterious black boxes used in commercial airplanes. It goes something like, “If a plane’s black box can’t be destroyed in a crash, why not make the entire plane out of the same material?” Bringing up plane crashes in a review of travel clothing might be a poor choice in this context. Still, the line of questioning is valid. If we’ve managed to design clothes that resist wrinkles, are more comfortable to wear and prevent stains, why aren’t we wearing these innovations every day?

What Exactly Is a Travel Blazer?

This brings me to the topic at hand: travel blazers. What are they? Google doesn’t know. A travel blazer could be a jacket that’s lightweight or really comfortable or unstructured or loaded with a plethora of pockets or technically just a sweater made to look like a blazer. It’s anarchy.

I started researching the category because I was fed up with just managing with my existing jackets. I was tired of waking up and putting on a crisp looking coat, only to walk into my 3:00 p.m. meeting looking like Tommy Lee Jones’ cheeks, even after diligently hanging it on the backs of chairs and commuter-train hooks. Science now allows us to take photos of black holes for god sakes. I figured there just had to be a better way.

The Gramercy Blazer ($295) from Bluffworks was the closest thing I could find to the image in my mind’s eye.

Bluffworks started life as a Kickstarter project before evolving into an online-only direct to consumer brand. Its founder Stefan Loble, a former self-described econ major pushing paper for a software company, was apparently in the same headspace I was about normal blazers. But instead of whining, he decided to do something about it.

What he created is a seasonally neutral wrinkle-resistant blazer, not a chore coat or elaborate sweater with lapels. It looks formal enough for any business scenario, any time of year.

But I still had reservations. The brand was niche and unfamiliar. And the jacket did feature one of the worst travel clothing cliches: an excess of pockets, one of which Bluffworks proudly boasted was big enough to hold an iPad Mini. Cringe. At least the pockets seemed well integrated.

The Gramercy Travel Blazer in Action

After spending a few months using the jacket, I can verify it delivers on many of its promises, especially compared to competing jackets at this price from J. Crew or Suitsupply. The blazer fights wrinkles exceptionally well. Everyday movements and activities, like long stretches of sitting or brisk walks in the peak heat of the day, didn’t leave major marks on the back or sleeves. I also stuffed it into various bags and left it there for days. Every time I was impressed with how the blazer looked on the other side, especially after tugging a bit on the sides to stretch it out further. This isn’t to suggest it’s a miracle garment that always looks pressed. The Gramercy just appears far less disheveled than a traditional blazer would after undergoing the same traumas.

More importantly, the Gramercy doesn’t look like a technical jacket at typical viewing distances. Its breathable, quick-dry polyester material looks natural and is soft enough to the touch. It’s quiet, too, and lacks the tell-tale “swoosh” of space-age materials rubbing together that plague other options from brands like Veilance and Zegna.

The Gramercy’s pockets also aren’t as obnoxious as I feared. The main interior pockets hold substantial items well. I didn’t attempt to stash an iPad, but my iPhone didn’t anchor down the left side of my jacket in a noticeable way. If security is important to you, there’s also a money-sized zippable pocket stashed in the back tail of the jacket (between the vents).

To top it all off, the jacket is machine washable and even machine dryable. This is a rare quality and meaningful for anyone who wears a sportcoat regularly. I’ve washed it once, so I can’t attest to how repeated cleanings impact the jacket over time. Assuming it can hold up though, the blazer could pay for itself quickly in saved dry cleaning bills alone.

The blue hour colorway I reviewed is a more divisive detail. It’s a lighter shade of blue than navy and has a textured look. I can appreciate how the color helps distinguish the jacket as a blazer versus half of a basic suit. But, it would be nice if Bluffworks sold a version in the classic color. Speaking of suits, Bluffworks does sell a matching pair of pants if you need a fully coordinated look.

Is the Bluffworks Gramercy Travel Blazer Right for You?

This combination of utility and subtly make the Gramercy a stand-out product in a category riddled with inconsistencies. If you travel often for business, actively commute or just really want a low maintenance blazer, it should be on your short list of considerations.

But, I’m personally not in love with it. That says less about the jacket itself than the state of technical clothing in general. Bluffworks deserves credit for significantly shrinking the aesthetic gap between technical and traditional blazers, but there’s still a noticeable gap. And though I prioritize functionality in most things, when it comes to clothes, the confidence that comes from looking my best matters more.

This truth brings me back around to the black box question and priorities. Flight recorders are durable because they’re encased in heavy steel. A plane made of the same material, though likely to be much more durable in a crash, would also be much more challenging to fly in the first place.

Most travel clothing today, even best-in-class examples, suffer from the same backward priorities. Cutting-edge materials that are wrinkle resistant, stretchy and repel water still look and feel different from traditional textiles. And if there’s any product where aesthetics and feel should sit high on the feature list, it’s clothing. Products like the Bluffworks Gramercy Blazer are encouraging signs that we’ll one day have clothes with superpowers that come without sacrifice. But we’re not there yet.

Bluffworks provided this product for review.

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