Elbow patches. Geezers rock them on tweed blazers and the German military created them for their trench crawling soldiers’. You might be more familiar with your high school English professor wearing them while pounding a mug of coffee and spewing a few sonnets of Shakespeare – now we’re seeing some major brands like Joseph Abboud & J.Crew crew throwing them on just about everything.
Over the years, I’ve become partial to the contrasting brown suede elbow patch because of the warm tones and the unexpected style complement it adds to varying pieces. These feature investigates two looks that showcase that varying style.
Elbow Patched Shirt
Flannel Shadow Plaid Elbow Patch Shirt – J.Crew | Black Merino Wool Turtleneck – H&M | Chocolate Brown Suede Jodhpur Boots – Jack Erwin | Black Jeans – 7 For All Mankind | Black & Silver “The Eight” Watch – Novo Watch | Red Thread + Create Medallion Bracelet – My Intent | Orange & Black Custom Bead Bracelet – Tobox
Suede elbow patches absolutely need a substantial fabric to be affixed to – think flannel, denim tweeds & wool. When added to a shirt the workwear vibe in immediately conjured and gives the piece a more storied look. Before seeing the color combination in person, the idea of pairing brown and black together is beyond foreign to most guys. Here a few reason why it works.
- A rich brown has hints of yellow that are brought out when paired with black. Naturally black & yellow are a solid pairing
- For this particular look, the pattern of the black & white hounds-tooth almost comes off as grey. This lighter color variant makes the brown elbow patch pairing less jarring and adds a welcoming “punch” of subdued color
- The nap of flannel shirt & suede elbow patch complement each other
- Brown & black is a very masculine pairing that was quite common in the 1950’s & 60’s. Often seen in suiting looks, however; when paired casually there’s a nod to that old-school refined cool
Suited & Patched
Custom Wool Plaid Suit Jacket & Waist Coat – Tailor 4 Less | Green & Blue Wool Tie & Orange Tip Pocket Square – The Tie Bar | French Cuff Cutaway Collar Shirt – Sproos | Repurposed Graffiti Cuff Links – Rebel Nell | Burnt Orange Tie Bar – An Ivy Copenhagen | Selvedge Denim Jeans – Uniqlo | Deerfield II Oxblood Tassel Loafer – Johnston & Murphy | Rose Gold Tank Watch – Hugo Boss
There’s a few schools of thought when adding elbow patches to a blazer & suit jacket.
- Is the goal to have contrasting elbow patches in regard to your suit?
- Is the goal to add matching fabric so that they’re seemingly invisible (this is a cool option and I often have it done on shirts)?
- Is the goal to add a complementary patch that slightly contrast the jacket?
Your final choice will come down to your personal style preference, however; for the sake of this feature, number three was the train of thought when customizing this jacket. The easiest way to make this work with any suit is to:
- Take the base color, in this case, light brown/tan and find an elbow patch in the same color family but slightly heightened
- Be cognizant of any accent colors that may restrict or complement the elbow patch. Here that accent color is cobalt blue, which is a perfect pairing for a tan elbow patch
- Outside of wearing this as a full suit, pair this jacket with denim (dark rinse, light rinse & white). The nap & color will benefit from the coarse texture
Are you a fan of elbow patches? Hate them or never tried them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photography: Marina T. Peele @cantwinklefty
Founder & Creative Director of Men's Style Pro, Sabir has a deep passion for menswear and all things manly. Selected as one of the "5 Best Dressed Men In America" by Esquire Magazine in 2010 & as #GQFall 2013 Best Dressed Man. As of 2014, Sabir serves as a freelance brand ambassador & executive stylist for GQ Magazine & GQ Report. Outside of that partnership, Sabir serves as an independent brand consultant as well. Reach me directly at SABIR@MENSSTYLEPRO.COM