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What's the Difference Between a Sports Jacket and a Suit Jacket?

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Section: Men's Sport Jackets & Blazers - Blog

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While they look similar and share some common features, suit jackets and sports coats are not equal or interchangeable. Each performs a vital service for your wardrobe. One is more formal and paired with matching trousers. The other (also called an odd jacket) is designed to mix and match with odd trousers and casual slacks for an informal look. Here’s how to tell them apart.

In the suit jacket versus sports coat match-up, who's the winner? You are, if you understand when to wear each of these distinctively different styles.

Sports Coats

The odd jacket (or jacket) that is not part of a men's suit, was originally worn as leisure wear. Today, the same garment is referred to as a sports coat or a blazer, depending on styling options and fabric, and is usually considered informal or casual attire.


In reality, odd jackets can be worn almost anywhere. Additionally, the odd jacket generally fits looser than a suit coat to allow for ease of movement, so they tend to be more comfortable.

For example, a navy blue jacket with brass buttons will not look out of place in a room full of suits, especially if it is worn with:

  • Gray slacks
  • Black shoes
  • A classy tie
  • A button-down shirt

For additional flair, add a pocket square, and you could end up outshining half the suit-wearing population.


To dress the outfit down quickly, just take off your tie and slip into khakis. Presto! You have a sharp outfit that enhances your appearance without attracting any undue attention. On the other hand, wear an odd jacket over your chinos and polo shirt when you want a classy look. The only caution? Don't wear pants too similar in colour to the coat itself.

Some popular sports coat fabrics and patterns are:

  • Navy wool
  • Camel hair
  • Madras
  • Corduroy
  • Plaid

Any of these could be finished with low-key horn or plastic buttons, or even with brass or nickel ones. Sporty patch pockets provide more options than the slit and flap pockets that suits usually have. When you are not wearing a tie, a jacket heightens an outfit's appeal with interesting fabrics and contrasting hardware.

Suit Jackets

Worn without a tie, a solid colour men's suit is appropriate for a New Year's Eve party but might seem out of place at a formal affair. While you might wear the jacket with dress slacks of a different colour – with or without a tie – this requires some careful thought before implementation. Poorly executed, a suit jacket without its matching pants looks incongruous.


Additionally, when you wear a suit jacket solo and expose it to the sun (while the trousers are hanging in your wardrobe), you run the risk of having the jacket's colour fade.

If you continue to wear the jacket without the matching pants, the jacket and trousers fabrics will fade to different shades and no longer match. At this point, you have effectively killed your expensive tailored suit. While the fashion police will probably not haul you off, you'll end up paying a "fine" when you have to purchase a new suit.

Depending on the cut of the suit jacket, it could add or subtract bulk to your silhouette or even elongate or compress the frame. The triangle formed by the lapels, draws the eyes towards the head, which you may or may not want to do.


While the men's suit has been traditionally placed on a pedestal as the go-to choice, the reality is, it isn't the right garment for every occasion. The sports coat fills the gap by being your perfect alternative choice for those times when a suit jacket just won't work.

Are you having trouble getting a good fit in a sports coat or men's suit? Fit is never a problem when you shop atMontagio Custom Tailoring because we offer a perfect fit guarantee. Find out more aboutmen's sports coats by visiting our Sydney showroom.

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