Blazers were once a boring staple of the man’s dress wardrobe.

Uniformly cut from the same navy cloth and stamped with gold buttons, blazers were mass-produced for semiformal functions and business attire.

Designers ignored them. Little boys – the frequent victims of sailor-influenced versions – abhorred them.

But now these jackets are having their day, and they’re anything but traditional.

Blazers range from "a bright orange jacket to a black velvet jacket and everything in between," says Joseph Kadi, designer of the Joseph Cloak line sold in stores such as Atrium and Beau Brummel. "We are going through a fashion revolution."

Pop stars were at the forefront of the recent blazer reinterpretation, said Kelly Rae, Stuff magazine’s fashion and grooming director.

Fashion-forward young celebrities such as R&B singer Usher and music mogul-designer Sean Combs began wearing blazers over jeans.

"It made young men aware that blazers are not necessarily only to be worn as a suit," Rae says. "You can break it up and mix and match."

Taking their cue from music videos, teens and young twentysomethings were soon wearing blazers over hooded sweatshirts, Rae says. Older guys paired the jackets with jeans or cords.

"The advantage of the blazer is you can dress it up or you can dress it down," says Sunder Daswani, president and founder of Elegant Rochees Hong Kong Tailors.

"You can wear it with jeans, you can wear it with dress pants, you can wear it with a button-down shirt, with or without a tie," he says. "You can even wear it with a bow tie."

As the blazer has become more versatile, designers have gotten creative.

At J. Crew – where blazers range from $128 to $300 – designers fashioned jackets from English tweeds and luxurious fabrics such as velvet and cotton cashmere blends, says Todd Snyder, vice president of men’s design.

Blazers are now "the piece for men’s wear," Snyder says.

Recently, designers have cropped jackets and narrowed lapels. Added and subtracted buttons. Lined the blazer with signature patterns. Thrown in pockets for cellphones and MP3 players.

With so many varieties, it can be difficult for a man to pick the right blazer.

"The nice thing about blazers is that they can accentuate all body types, whether you are a little portly, taller, or even if you are short," Snyder says. "But it is really important to get a jacket that fits well."

Buying the right blazer

FOR ALL BODY TYPES: Sleeves should reach about half an inch below the wrist bone. Side vents should be positioned in the back so that, when hands are in the pockets, the jacket doesn’t lift up.

FOR SHORTER MEN: Opt for cropped blazers with narrower lapels and one button, to give the illusion of length.

FOR LEAN MEN: Double-breasted jackets give extra bulk. Slightly padded shoulders help square out the shape. Three or four buttons decorate a long torso.

FOR STOCKY MEN: Opt for single-breasted, one- to two-button blazers to ensure the jacket falls flat on the chest and doesn’t hug the stomach.

© 2006, North Jersey Media Group Inc.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.