Sport coat vs. Blazer vs. Suit jacket – when to wear what?

man jacket

Some dress codes require a blazer, other need a suit jacket and sometimes a sports coat is called for but what exactly is the difference between these three and when is it appropriate to wear each of them, after all wearing the wrong one could end up being quite embarrassing.

But with our quick guide to which is which, you don’t need to worry about ever getting it wrong again so here is our explanation for the difference between the three items and when to wear which one.

The Sports Coat

This is the least formal of the jackets and is normally not so structured. It used to be worn by men taking part in sports, hence the name. They used to be seen as a luxury because men would wear them when a suit wasn’t required, whereas most men couldn’t afford anything more than one suit.

However nowadays these jackets are not associated with sport any longer and are simply seen as a more casual but sophisticated option, when suit jackets or blazers are not required. A sports jacket could be worn for a casual or smart casual event.

So a sports coat normally come in a variety of colours and the fabrics include tweed, herringbone and flannel. They are fitted and can often feature elbow patches, pleats and fake pockets. That’s how you can tell them apart from suit jackets.

They can be worn with jeans or with any pair of non-matching trousers. They are also great to wear in the winter as the loose fit will go well over jumpers and other thicker tops, unlike a very fitted suit jacket.

The Blazer

When it comes to men’s formalwear the blazer is halfway between the suit and sports jackets and is popular smart wear for leisure and work purposes. Generally they are navy with brass buttons, but there are other varieties and styles available nowadays.

They are highly flexible, coming in single breasted and double-breasted options and are a bit more tailored than a sports jacket. They have feature buttons which make them stand out and bring a sense of sophistication to any outfit.

They come in a variety of fabrics including flannel, cashmere and wool and can be paired with jeans and chinos for a casual look, or with tailored trousers to look smarter. They go well with a smart white shirt and tie but can be dressed down with t-shirts and turtlenecks instead.

The Suit Jacket

This is the most formal of the three jackets and normally comes with a matching pair of trousers. Suits are traditionally worn for formal events including business, weddings and evening dinners. There are a variety of suit types depending on the formality, including tuxedos and morning suits.

Suits come with matching trousers and sometimes a waistcoat as well and tend to come in a single block colour although there are patterns such as pinstripe and hounds tooth. They are fitted and tailored so are normally worn with a simple shirt and tie.

Suit jackets are often made of cashmere or a blend, wool, and cotton but the most common suit jacket material is wool which keeps you cool in the summer or warm in the winter. It is possible to wear a suit jacket with jeans or casual trousers but normally they are worn with the matching pair.

All three jackets have their place within a man’s wardrobe as they are all relevant for different types of occasions and all serve very different functions. With suit jackets it’s likely a working man will have a variety of suits to choose from for everyday business wear.

When it comes to sports jackets these are very casual and come in a wide variety of shapes and colours, these are best used in the autumn season when you want to wear jumpers or sweaters underneath, perhaps for a weekend away or a casual event.

A blazer is a more traditional and smart look for an afternoon summer barbecue or wedding reception, for example, so all three are key staples to make up a complete wardrobe and it’s important to have variations of all of them for every occasion.

For example, when it comes to suit jackets every man should have a tuxedo in his wardrobe for those very special black tie occasions that might pop up as well as a series of business formal suits and perhaps a summer linen suit for more formal summer parties.

With these three hanging up in your wardrobe, and this guide to assist you, you can rest assured that you have the right jacket for every occasion, no matter how casual or how formal and you will never get them mixed up or wear the wrong one on the wrong day again.

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