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Sports jackets vs blazers: A guide to definition

30/04/2020
Sports jackets vs blazers: A guide to definition

What many men may don’t know is that this is a classic dilemma that has been relevant for ages.

Sports Jackets vs Blazers

We often come across the use of the term sports jacket, sport coat or blazer. While it seems to refer to the same garment, there are differences and when someone realises this, these differences -between a sports jacket and a blazer- are not always clear. Obviously, they have to be some different characteristics that define them. 

This article shall become a mini guide of differences between these two types of attire and their appropriate use.

SPORTS JACKET

Having its origins in the British countryside and horseback riding, the sports jacket is less structured, more casual would say outer piece of an attire. This type of jacketwas  actually worn for functional purposes and most often in the morning or at weekends at times when the season or occasion didn’t require a man to wear a two piece or three piece suit. Although more casual in style, paradoxically they were also considered a luxury item, a sign of wealth since most men at the time could only afford a tailored suit without many alternatives. 

This time has passed though and mens dress has become much more casual in style nowadays, This means that a sports jacket is barely considered a casual item but nonetheless, men who take care of their style introduce a number of them in their closet. Such a sport jacket can satisfy any smart casual dress moment such as a dinner at a restaurant or a social gathering, but can do well for a business casual dress code required in a professional environment. The sports jacket has been mixed and matched with garments that some years ago would never be considered right. So, now you see a sports jacket combined with jogger trousers or a hoodie sweater and sneakers. Mix and match of sports jackets initially began with casual garments to end up at today's creative blend with the athletic pieces of clothing and put a sports jacket again in the spotlight of the menswear industry.

Speaking technically a sport jacket usually lacks the defined structure of a suit jacket. This means that a sports jacket shall be light. Features of this type are the natural shoulders (missing evident padding),an absence of hard canvas internally and most probably absence of full lining, all details that result in a shirt-like feeling. Pockets in sports jackets are of the patch pockets style, that are externally sewn pockets of a functional character. Generally sport jackets seem and feel relaxed. 

 

 

A sports jacket is the way to go for men of style. This gives you a basis for an everyday outfit. Fixed rules in men’s fashion are not valid anymore and although this has definitely made it more ugly, this degree of flexibility gives a man numerous options. We suggest that the sports jacket and trousers outfit is the best and easiest way a man can dress. A jacket as this can be proposed at urban life on 24/7. 

What makes a sports jacket valid is the quality of fabric and manufacture. These are elements of great importance. It is not in the scope of this article to deepen in this field and we shall do it at another publication but always consider a tailored sports jacket of a high quality italian fabric.

Jackets men’s wardrobe should contain a sports jacket in at least one of these three colors: grey, navy or brown. Better if all of them. 

KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF A SPORTS JACKET

  • Offered in a wide variety of colors and patterns - such as plain, checked and striped. 
  • Are less structured than a suit jacket, allowing for a free body movement. 
  • Sometimes (though not always) feature elements such as elbow patches, slits, ticket pockets.
  • Can add layers of clothing such as vests and waistcoat

 

Styling a sports jacket

Men jackets should be paired with pants that are not of the same fabric and color. Whether you are looking to dress up a pair of chino trousers or pleated trousers for a dinner date, a sports jacket will always work. Set your jacket with a pair of dress trousers for a great outfit during a networking event or cocktail party. 

A sports jacket can be well matched to both shirts and sweaters. The italian approach of Tailor Italian Wear involves also the use of accessories such as ties and pocket squares. These, though generally considered as formal garments, are available in fabrics other than silk, such as cotton and wool, fabrics that render them more casual. 

Usual fabrics for autumn winter sports jackets

 

  • Woolen flannel jackets
  • Woolen herringbone jackets
  • Woolen houndstooth jackets
  • Woolen tweed jackets
  • Woolen checked jackets

Usual fabrics for spring summer sports jackets

 

  • Linen twill jackets or linen herringbone jackets 
  • Cotton seersucker jackets
  • Blends of wool and silk jackets
  • Cotton jersey jackets
  • Blends of cotton and linen jackets

 

 

BLAZER

 

In its original form is considered as a formal type of jacket and can be worn across the spectrum of formal settings, being a valid alternative to a man’s suit. It is a necessary wardrobe piece that ensembles clothing with a certain class. 

So, how does thery differ?

Technically, it is a well defined type of jacket because in order to be called as such, there are some characteristics that a man’s jacket should possess.

They should come in a solid color. The classic colour is the navy blue, but there are other popular colours such as grey. Moreover, being a solid coloured jacket, should not feature patterns but certainly textures. Popular textures are twill (diagonal texture),and oxford textures, but also herringbone textures. This does not exclude popeline wool ( a smooth textured wool) fabric for a blazer, but since this latter type confounds a suit jacket, a blazer is rather more interesting with one of the more evident textures. 

They usually have metal buttons. Metal buttons are usually coloured in gold, silver or brass and most often feature a stamp that may be a brand’s logo, a house emblem or a society symbol. These, in many cases, unite in a sense men in a group of interest or origin. Metal buttons strongly distinguish the blazer to a suit jacket. It is common though to see them with mother of pearl buttons and a variety of more particular buttons.

 

 

Men’s favourites are often double breasted. This is not a clear distinction between a blazer and a jacket because a jacket can be double breasted too, in the same way a blazer can be single breasted. However, the classic image of this type of garment is a double breasted blazer with six buttons. This is a pompous type of blazer that oozes elegance and splendour. 

This men’s clothing garment should not be as firm as suit jackets are. Obviously though should not come in an unstructured version of a sports jacket. Traditional style that are true to their British tailoring origins, are generally more formal than a sport jacket, and can possess some of the structural components of a suit jacket, especially a more padded shoulder. 

The Italian philosophy that is now the leading menswear style suggests a less structured blazer. This has made blazers look like sports coats and jackets. Italian or italian style blazers have a slim fit but lack structure in the shoulder.

STYLING A BLAZER

A navy should be part of your wardrobe. Contrast those with tailored trousers. Pleated grey flannel trousers in winter, and grey cool wool trousers at spring and summertime are the classics to pair to blazers. Sometimes it is equally charming to match them with jeans and dress shoes. If you want to avoid a suit then a blazer with a dress shirt and a tie can have an equally formal character. 

The navy option is often worn in a business or academic setting, as it is a step down from a suit but a notch up from dressing with a sports jacket. It looks just right with regimental ties and light blue shirts or striped shirts with a white collar in contrast.. 

They are popular for spring and autumn seasons for their ability to balance between seasons and fabrics more often are four season articles. We though list a number of seasonal fabrics below:

Key fabrics for autumn winter blazers

  • Cashmere in blends with wool or 100% 
  • Flannels 
  • Worsted wool in textures

Key fabrics for spring summer blazers

  • Wool and silk  
  • Linen 
  • Worsted wool in textures

 

The two types of jacket feature in the Tailor Italian Wear collection and should not necessarily compete with each other. Rather than this, a man should possess both formal and sports jackets, for us being convinced that this is the smartest way to get dressed.