Sport coats, blazers, and jackets, these terms are used interchangeably by many suiting retailers causing a high level of confusion for shoppers. You will often see any tailored jacket listed for sale as just a “blazer,” even if this is not the case.
A truly well-dressed gentleman must pay attention to the details. This includes understanding the foundations of any great wardrobe. For example, you don’t want to wear a sport coat to a black-tie event.
At Jaxson Maximus, we are here to help. Our custom stylists have prepared a guide to help you understand the key differences between a sport coat and a blazer.
WHAT IS A SPORT COAT
A sport coat, by definition, is a men’s jacket that is made up of various textured weaves and fabrics. What makes a sport coat unique from a traditional suit or blazer is the use of pattern and texture.
A sport coat will generally be a bit more unstructured than a traditional suit jacket. Depending on your style, you might opt for a sport coat that had elbow patches on the arm.
Depending on the manufacture, this jacket can either be called a sport coat or sport jacket. They both mean the same thing.
THE HISTORY OF A SPORT COAT
The sport coat originally came into fashion in the 1860s. The Duke of Norfolk wore the coat as part of his hunting ensemble. Because of the structure of the jacket, with its flapped pockets and ammunition storage, it was ideal for shooting. This Norfolk jacket also contained a fastening belt around the waist, providing the user with additional comfort while hunting.
The original sport coats were paired with knickerbockers and bowler hats. They were cut from heavy wool or tweed in muted earth tones. It was not until the 1920’s that the sport coat made it’s way to mainstream fashion. They were first sported exclusively by the rich and famous, the sports jacket, over time, because more affordable to the masses.
Today, the sport coat is known as a staple of sharply dressed men.
STYLING A SPORT COAT
A sport coat is an excellent option for work and also for a night on the town. Any pair of bottoms, except those with an identical color, will work with your sports coat. Pair it with your favorite pair of denim in a business casual environment or worn with trousers for an evening cocktail party.
If you live in a colder climate, a sports coat does exceptionally well when layered over sweaters and turtlenecks.
Some key patterns and fabrics you might want to consider for your sport coat are tweed, herringbone, houndstooth, and flannel.
DEFINITION OF A BLAZER
For a blazer to be a blazer, it must meet a specific set of criteria. The most important factor is that a blazer must come in a solid color. A blazer can incorporate fun details such as contrasting stitching, but technically speaking, having any pattern in the fabric will during the blazer into a sports coat.
Blazers most often are seen in the color navy, but they come in a wide variety of shades such as green, red, light blue, and khaki.
A common addition to a blazer is a crest of some sort. This crest could be symbolic of a club, school, or association. You will not find crests on sports jackets or suits only blazers. Depending on where you purchase your blazer or the social significance of your blazer, it might be adjourned with distinctive contrasting buttons in gold or silver. For example, a yachting association might give their members a blazer adorned with anchor buttons symboling they are part of the association.
HISTORY OF THE BLAZER
Throughout history, blazers always gave off a nautical feel. The blazer origins date back to 1825 when members of the rowing club at Oxford and Cambridge sported them as part of their uniforms. The original uniforms were made with bright colors, the most distinctive being red. The oarsmen would wear carry over there uniforms to social events, where they were seen by society as being rebellious.
Blazers soon made their way over to sailors in the British Navy. Some say that during 1837, Queen Victor was said to have been so taken aback by the sight of a group of men from the British Navy dressed in blazers that she declared they were made the Navy’s official uniform.
A great way to style your blazer would be to pair it with your favorite pair of khakis, flannels, or colorful chinos. Adding a pair of jeans can be a great way to dress down your blazer for a business casual work environment or a night on the town.
At Jaxson Maximus, we recommend if you are going to go the denim route that you try pairing your blazer with colored jeans, such as the Paige Federal line, instead of just the traditional light and dark washes.
Depending on the occasion, you could pair your blazer with a basic white t-shirt to a crisp white button-up. Given the versatility of blazers, a wide variety of shoes can be worn. We recommend matching your shoes to the formal of your bottoms. If you opt for denim, try a loafer. If you choose flannel trousers, try adding oxfords or monk strap shoes.
SPORT COAT VS. BLAZER -WHAT DISTINGUISHES THE TWO
When we look at a sport coat and a blazer side-by-side, we will begin to notice some key characteristics such as:
- They will come in a wide variety of patterns, colors, and textures
- A sports coat will have a less structured fit. This provides you with more mobility and the ability to layer more underneath
- You will have more design options such as elbow patches, ticket pockets, pleats, etc
- Paired with non-matching bottoms
- They will come in solid colors, most popularly in Navy
- A blazer will offer a structured shoulder and be more fitted
- Traditionally a blazer will come in 2-button or 3-button single-breasted or 6-button double-breasted varieties
- Looks best when paired with non-matching bottoms (khakis, chinos, etc.