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Our clients often ask us - what is the difference between a men’s blazer, a men’s sport coat, and a suit jacket? Our clients often ask us - what is the difference between a men’s blazer, a men’s sport coat, and a suit jacket? These days, these terms are used interchangeably, but it’s important not to get too caught up in the sartorial semantics- especially when talking about men’s blazers or sports coats.
Just like a suit, it is not one size fits all. However, knowing the subtle nuances that make each one different can help you coordinate your outfits better and ensure that you don’t look mismatched – for instance, by accidentally pairing a suit jacket with a cotton chino (they really don’t work well together).
Building a versatile and stylish wardrobe that fits you perfectly and is fit for every occasion is easier once you understand the variety of suit options available to suit your lifestyle. Gone are the days of off-the-rack, ill-fitted men’s suit jackets worn for every occasion that does not compliment your style or body shape.
You may ask why understanding the difference between men’s blazers, sports coats, and men’s suit jackets is important. The answer is that understanding their different features is essential to know how each can coordinate with different garments in your closet. A modern wardrobe with multiple jacket styles is essential to create a multipurpose and adaptable wardrobe, and understanding the differences will help you avoid those wardrobe mishaps. For instance, showing up to a formal event in a sports jacket or layering a thick sweater under a fitted tailored suit jacket (you may feel hot, but chances are you may not look it!). It helps to know the variety of essential men’s suit jackets and classic menswear staples that cater to seasonal demands and the occasion.
So, let’s begin by exploring the differences and distinctive features of each to start levelling up your styling potential.
No, suit jackets and blazers are not the same. Men’s blazers are less formal than men’s suit jackets and are typically unpadded and unlined without edge-stitched lapels. Therefore, blazers are very light and comfortable and can be worn with a layered ensemble or in warmer weather.
Sports coats can be coordinated with trousers that are not made of the same fabric or pattern, they can also be paired with pants that are of the same matching fabric or pattern. That makes them very versatile and a staple for any weekend or holiday wardrobe. Another difference is whether they have a matching pair of trousers - a suit jacket does, whereas a sports coat and blazer generally do not.
Sports coats are also patterned jackets, whereas blazers are a solid colour.
It’s all about the structure. Suit jackets also have a more rounded and structured shoulder, whereas blazers have a more laid-back fit with simple, softer shoulders and are less formal than the classic suit jacket. Blazers are often seen as a wildcard whilst sporting a casual style that can be worn in both casual business meetings and in casual contexts or as a perfect companion for weekend activities.
Blazer jackets are typically characterised by a solid colour fabric with contrasting buttons and are unpadded or unlined.
Historically, men's blazers in Australia were a sign of membership in a group. They often featured some sort of ornamentation, such as a crest or nautical motif and feathered either metal buttons or very light-coloured buttons, such as Mother of Pearl.
The term ‘blazer’ stems from the ‘blazing red’ jackets worn by Cambridge’s Lady Margaret Boat Club members, which were made in red flannel and meant to stand out. There are striped versions of the boat club blazers called Regatta Blazers, which are also very bold and eye-catching. Blazers became a symbol of prestige and exclusivity as rowers from the club started wearing their blazers outside of the club.
Nowadays, the most common blazer colour is solid navy, although this has now expanded to a range of popular colours, including (but not limited to) cream, blue, wine, and camel-coloured blazers.
If you’re getting a blazer for a business casual or a smart-casual look, we recommend avoiding maroon and grey because these colours are often used for school uniform blazers.
Traditionally the most common fabrics for blazers were worsted serge wool, flannel or hopsack. But, just like the expansion in the range of blazer colours, there has also been an expansion in the range of fabrics for blazers, such as cashmere, silk, velvet, tweed and linen.
Which fabric you choose depends on the season.
For the cooler months, you may opt for thicker, warmer, heavier fabrics like velvet, flannel, cashmere, tweed, or winter-weight wool.
Often people will refer to flannel, cashmere or tweed blazers generically as ‘wool coats’ – they are technically all wool coats, but there are differences between each material in terms of the look, feel and behaviour.
Flannel is a soft, mid-weight cloth with a slightly fuzzy texture called ‘nap’. It can be used to make a standalone flannel blazer or can also be used to create a whole 3-piece flannel suit without feeling overly heavy (of course, this would be a suit you could only wear in winter).
A velvet blazer can be pretty versatile in terms of occasion – it can be worn as part of a formal tuxedo ensemble on black trousers or dressed down and worn smart-casually on chinos or a pair of jeans.
Cashmere is also a mid-weight, super soft cloth with an exquisite lustre and is up to eight times warmer than sheep's wool. Unfortunately, it is also quite expensive due to its super luxurious look and feel. Cashmere’s high price is also down to the method by which the raw material is harvested, which is painstakingly obtained by combing the hair of the Kashmir goat. It can take four to six goats yearly to produce enough fibre to make a single cashmere blazer!
Tweed is on the other end of the spectrum. It features quite a rough, thick and heavy cloth with a lot of nap. Tweed blazers have a more structured stiffer look and are popular in colder climates such as England or Canada (due to their heaviness, tweed is not as common in Australia).
For the warmer months, you may opt for lighter fabrics such as serge, hopsack, linen, cotton, silk or summer-weight wool.
Linen blazers are quite popular in summer as they breathe really well - the crosshatch weave allows air to pass through and provides ventilation. Although many love the crosshatch texture, some don’t like the crushed look, as it can look like you forgot to iron your linen blazer.
For those that like the crosshatch texture of linen but prefer a smoother, non-crushed look – fortunately, there is now a blend of wool, silk and linen that combines the softness, smoothness and crush-resistance of wool with the lightness, breathability and crosshatch look of linen, and has the lustre of silk.
As you can see in the image above – the model is wearing a light-blue blended wool, silk & linen blazer – something that conventionally would not be categorised as a blazer, but the sartorial style has evolved, and we don’t really like sticking to convention here.
Blazer jackets can come as single-breasted blazers with 1, 2 or even 3 buttons, as well as double-breasted blazers with various button configurations. While single-breasted blazer jackets are more common in Australia due to the relatively warmer weather, a well-tailored double-breasted blazer can look super sharp.
There are two things to consider when deciding to purchase a double-breasted jacket:
Blazers are to be worn with contrasting trousers, cotton chino or denim jeans. The Italians like to call this style “Spezzato”, which literally translates to “broken” but effectively means to mix and match. Here are some simple guidelines to create a great-looking blazer outfit and ensure you look blazing-hot in your blazer:
A sports jacket or sports coat is a casual jacket worn on informal occasions and is made in textured or patterned fabrics.
Historically, as the name suggests, sports coats were worn while sporting - hunting, clay shooting, horse riding, and so on. So, in many ways, the sport coat is the exact opposite of a suit jacket.
Nowadays, people tend to use the terms ‘blazer’ and ‘sports coat’ interchangeably, but there are some differences.
Probably the most common choice of fabric for sports coats is wool. The most common pattern is a check pattern which comes in many varieties such as windowpane, glen check, Prince of Wales, gingham, plaid, tartan, madras, and houndstooth.
As mentioned earlier, sports jackets are made in textured or patterned fabrics, which covers a broad spectrum. They can be made in many of the same materials as blazer jackets, such as flannel, cashmere, tweed, linen, or wool.
Sports jackets can also come in a wide spectrum of colours and patterns. But there is one colour that is definitely not in the range for sportscoats – and that colour is black. A common error is referring to a black suit jacket as a black sports jacket – there is no such thing as a black sports jacket if we’re being technical. Furthermore, black is such a formal colour that it doesn’t make sense in the context of a casual jacket like a sports coat.
Sports jackets generally have less structure (usually unstructured and light or no shoulder padding). However, this is up to personal taste and also body shape. For example, if you are on the bulkier side, you may need additional structure and shoulder padding to create a more complimentary silhouette.
Another common feature of sports jackets is that they often come with patch pockets which is a more casual style of pocket rather than the usual flap pockets you would find on blazers or suit jackets. Having said that, you will also see sports coats with standard flap pockets as well.
Sports jackets, like blazers, should be worn with contrasting trousers, cotton chino or denim jeans. Here are some simple guidelines to create some great sports coat looks and ensure you hit all the right goals when sporting a sports jacket:
A suit jacket is exactly what it sounds like - it is a jacket that is part of a two or three-piece outfit with a matching pair of pants and, in the case of a three-piece suit, a matching waistcoat as well. All the pieces are in the same fabric making up the suit. And that is why that jacket is called a suit jacket.
Typically, a suit jacket is the most formal style of jacket of the three. It has the most structure and is generally more conservative in terms of colour - think of your classic suits like Navy and grey. Suit jackets can also have a pattern.
The most common suit jacket pattern you'll see are herringbone, pinstripe, Glen check, Prince of Wales check and windowpane.
And the answer is - it depends!
It mainly depends on the fabric. A suit jacket made in a fabric that has a bit of a sheen will not work as a separate as it will look disjointed and odd - especially if you pair it with more casual pants like chinos or jeans.
Suits made in fabrics like hopsack, linen or tweed are much better suited for wearing the jacket as a separate, especially if they are styled in a more casual way with patch pockets, maybe a half-canvas construction and a more natural, unpadded shoulder.
Technically, no, but this is an instance where we can get too wrapped up in terminology when it really doesn't matter so much. So if you want to call it a blazer, go for it.
So now that we have described each of the three jacket types individually, let’s compare the three and sum up what we’ve explored on differences between men’s suit jackets, men’s sport coats and men’s blazers.
Well, one difference is the level of formality – a suit jacket is typically the most formal, a blazer is somewhere in between, and a sport coat is the most casual of the three jackets.
Another difference is whether they have a matching pair of trousers - a suit jacket does, whereas a sports coat and blazer generally do not.
Choosing the right jacket ultimately comes down to the occasion you need it for. While a suit jacket, a sport coat and a blazer all have their differences, the bottom line is that they are all men's jackets, and what they all have in common is that if you're wearing one, you're going to look well put together and stylish.
And remember: every impression counts. Especially the first one. Like it or not, those around you judge you based on how you look.
So be confident, knowing you’ll look damn good in the perfect blazer, sport coat, or suit jacket perfect for the event you’re at.
Contact Montagio today. We know how to dress to impress, and we'll even throw in a healthy dose of personal style advice to boot. Of course, a perfect fit is guaranteed.
It doesn't matter what image you want to project, we offer a truly personalised experience, specialising in custom-designed, perfectly-fitted suits, blazers, sports coats, shirts, and shoes.
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