Suit Jackets, Sport Coats, & Blazers: What’s the Difference? – Menswear Definitions
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Suit Jackets, Sport Coats, & Blazers: What’s the Difference? – Menswear Definitions


Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
In today’s video, we’ll clear up some menswear confusion and discuss the
differences between Blazers, sport coats, and suit jackets. When you shop at a
department store or large clothing retailer, chances are you’ll probably see
most jackets marketed as Blazers but just because they have lapels and
buttons, doesn’t qualify them as being this type of jacket and it’s not just
brick-and-mortar stores that contribute to the confusion around the various
names of these garments. For example, on eBay, there’s no category listing for
Blazers or sport coats, only for suits and suit separates. And while it’s not
totally within our wheelhouse here at the Gentleman’s Gazette,
we should note also that many jackets with buttons and lapels for women are
also marketed under the blanket term of Blazer. All of these different factors
have contributed to a broader misunderstanding about the true
differences between these different jacket styles. So let’s clear that up in
today’s video. We’ll start with a suit jacket which is precisely that. In other
words, it is the jacket portion of an outfit made up of either two or three
pieces along with trousers and a waistcoat that have all been constructed
from the same fabric. So definitionally, if a jacket comes from an ensemble of
two or three pieces from the same fabric, it is a suit jacket. Of course, just
because this jacket comes from an ensemble of the same fabric doesn’t mean
that it always has to be worn with its companion pieces. Suit jackets can be
worn with other garments in a sort of mix-and-match technique, that’s often
referred to by the Italian term “spezzato”. For example, one could take the navy
jacket from one suit and the gray trousers from another and mix them
together. In a sense, this can blur definitional lines between suit jackets
and sport coats because one is breaking up the original unity of the
suit jacket from its other companion garments. Spezzato literally means “broken”
If you would like to learn more about this distinguished style technique, you
can take a look at our article on spezzato here. So it’s easy enough to say
that a jacket is a suit jacket if it came from a suit but other than that,
what are some defining characteristics you can use to identify a suit jacket?
Overall, suit jackets are usually more formal than either of the other two
jacket styles we’ll discuss today. This is why the suit has long been considered
a sort of default uniform for business meetings, funerals, and other events that
require somberness and dignity. The formality of a suit jacket is usually
reflected in its relative absence of pattern and texture and by being
generally more structured than a sport coat or blazer will be. The majority of
suits are made in smooth worsted wool in solid and conservative colors. For
example, charcoal gray or navy blue. There are a small number of patterns that are
considered formal enough for use in suits such as Glen plaids, windowpanes,
or chalk stripes but there aren’t a lot of patterned suit styles that you’ll see
out there. Speaking structurally, a suit jacket tends to have more padding inside
the shoulder area and in some cases, more canvassing between the inside lining and
the cloth itself. The formality provided by this structure, especially in
something like a British styled suit, combined with typical suiting fabrics
makes a suit jacket somewhat more difficult to wear with a different pair
of pants as your upper body is probably going to appear more dressed up than
your lower body and it might simply look like you’re wearing the orphaned top
half of a suit. By the way, if you’re curious as to what we mean by a British
styled suit and how this might contrast from something like an Italian or
American style, you can find our video on that subject here. So the essential
difficulty then in pairing suit jackets with other types of
garments is that padded shoulders and worsted wool are more formal features so
they’re not as easily going to gel with other kinds of garments that are
slightly less formal. There is a school of thought that says one can lean into
this disconnect and pair a formal suit jacket with something like jeans or
shorts but of course, being proponents of classic style, we, at the Gentleman’s
Gazette, aren’t going to recommend that look. So while the spezzato technique
exists for mixing and matching different suit elements, you’ll probably have an
easier time pairing odd trousers with a sport coat or a blazer. What do we mean
here by odd trousers? Not odd in the sense of being weird or unusual, although
some designs certainly can be, we just mean that these trousers weren’t made to
be part of a suit originally and therefore, they can go with a variety of
different elements. Similarly, a sport coat which is also referred to as a
sports coat, sport jacket, or sports jacket is a type of odd jacket in that
you can mix and match it with other garments easily. In a number of ways, the
sport coat can be seen as something of an opposite to the standard suit jacket
where suit jackets are usually smooth and solid in color, sport coats are more
often than not made with textured weaves and fabrics and they come in a larger
variety of patterns and colors. Say for example, something like a houndstooth
pattern on a tweed sport coat. By that token, the presence of bolder patterns
and more textured weaves communicates that a sport coat was not originally
part of a suit and that it is essentially a more casual garment. As the
name suggests, sport coats were originally designed for sporting events
in the British countryside, things like pheasant hunting or fishing. While it’s
not going to be accurate in all cases, one broad distinction to make is that a
sport coat would be more appropriate for country wear whereas a suit jacket would
be more appropriate in the city. Of course, given that many men these days
aren’t going to be wearing any sort of tailored jacket, just wearing a sport
coat will still make you more formally dressed than a great many people. Still, a
sport coat remains less formal than a full suit and is appropriate for more
casual events like weekend parties or picnics. What is it that makes a sport
coat less formal then? Well, we’ve already talked about the more textured weaves
and the greater variance in colors and patterns but additionally, there’s often
going to be less structure in a sport coat as well.
Natural shoulders without padding are common and summer sport coat styles can
often lack an internal canvas or a lining. Of course, there are some suits
that can lack some of these features like padded shoulders but as a general
rule, you’ll see this more casual styling and structure in sport coats more than
suits. Another casual aspect that will often set a sport coat apart is the type
of pockets that it has. While suits will often have flapped or jetted pockets,
you’re going to see patch pockets on sport coats more commonly which are
generally more relaxed in appearance. This can sometimes include the breast
pocket as well which would usually be welted on a more formal garment. Finally
here then, let’s go back to the garment whose name is often used as an
all-purpose umbrella term for men’s jackets. What really is a blazer?
Technically speaking, a blazer is the most specific of these three jacket
types because it has to meet a certain set of criteria to qualify as such. One
of these criteria, for example, is that a blazer can come in a solid color, most
often navy blue or it can incorporate either contrasting piping or stripes. All
other types of patterns technically disqualify a jacket from being
considered a blazer. One somewhat common additional ornamentation on a blazer,
however, is a crest of some sort which signifies the heritage of the Blazer
as a garment worn by men who were members of a particular organization or
club. Conversely, you’re not usually going to
find a crest on a suit jacket or a sport coat.
Another key criterion is that a Blazer’s buttons are going to contrast strongly
with the jacket fabric. You’re commonly going to see things like gold colored or
brass buttons with anchors on them or maybe bright mother-of-pearl buttons. As
an example here, you’re often going to find retailers like Ralph Lauren who
cater to a more traditional crowd selling Blazers with these styles of
contrasting buttons. Whatever their specific details may be, blazers are
often intended to be bright and ablaze with color, as their name would suggest.
For example, the blazers created for the Lady Margaret Boating Club in Cambridge,
England are one such garment. They’re said to have started this trend of
bright blazers being made of red flannel. You’re also going to see blazers in
other bright colors like green or yellow. The striped versions which are known as
rowing blazers, boating blazers, or regatta blazers are similarly quite bold
in nature and even the standard navy blazer will command some attention if it
has bright brass or mother-of-pearl buttons. Therefore, any man who’s wearing
a blazer should either be somewhat extroverted to be able to take this
additional attention or in an environment where blazers are being worn
by everyone such as at a nautical event. In a certain sense, blazers exist
somewhat in the space between suit jackets and sport coats. Like a sport
coat after all, a blazer is traditionally worn with odd trousers in a different
color. At the same time though, traditional
Blazers are true to their British tailoring origins and they’re generally
more formal than sport coats possessing some of these structural components of
suit jackets like a more padded shoulder. It should also be said though that
nowadays, you can find some less structured Blazers more
influenced by Italian style which are wading into sportcoat territory. For more
information on blazers in particular though, not just how they differ from
suit jackets and sport coats but also their unique history, you can check out
our blazer guide here. Everyday language often fails to recognize the traditional
differences between suit jackets, sport coats, and blazers and while using the
information we’ve outlined here today, you’ll be able to identify these
different types in traditional settings. Do be aware that more and more as style
lines are blurred and casualized, you may also see hybrids of these jacket styles.
There are casual suits with unpadded shoulders that fit more like sport coats
and blazers that fall into this category too. These reflect the prevailing trends
for less formal and more relaxed cuts. Still, gentlemen who appreciate the
history and heritage of these garments are going to want to know where they
came from in terms of the different style elements and also, how to most
correctly differentiate between the three. In terms of how to wear and pair
these three different kinds of jacket styles, the blazer guide definitely has
more information on that type. If you’re curious about suits, we’ve got videos on
how to pair shirts and ties with gray suits and with blue suits here. and if
you’re curious about sport coats, I’d suggest that you check out our tweed
guide here. in today’s video it should hopefully be obvious given the navy blue
color and brass buttons that I’m wearing a blazer
it’s double-breasted in configuration features some padding in the shoulder
but at the same time does have flapped pockets and a single vent in the back
which make it slightly more casual than it might traditionally be I’ve paired it
with plain charcoal trousers and a blue and white striped French cuffed shirt in
those French cuffs the cufflinks I’m wearing today are from Fort Belvedere
they are gold plated sterling silver cuff
links in a monkey’s fist knot design because they feature tied rope I figured
that they tie into this nautical heritage of the Blazer my other
accessories are from Fort Belvedere today as well including my pocket square
which is an Art Deco Egyptian scarab design in straw yellow antique brass
blue black and cardinal red and features a brown contrasting edge meanwhile my
bow tie is in madder silk and features a diamond pattern of yellow red blue and
orange both the pocket square and the bow tie have predominantly yellow tones
and so harmonized well with the gold buttons on the Blazer my boutonniere is
a pink and white cherry blossom which harmonizes with both the yellow and red
colors in the outfit as well as the white that’s found in the shirt my socks
are from Fort Belvedere – they are shadow striped models in grey and light blue
which of course harmonized with the color palette as well you can find all
of these Fort Belvedere accessories including the bow tie pocket square
boutonniere cufflinks and socks in the Fort Belvedere shop here rounding out my
outfit today then are my shoes which are dark chocolate brown suede penny loafers
from Meermin

85 Comments

  • megairishmom

    Hello could I ask y’all a question what would the most formal type of hat feather be in trying to find a new feather for my top hat and I’m trying to be a formal as possible with it

  • Colt Savage

    Great video Preston. I get tired of people calling my suit jackets Blazers, and now all I have to do is show them this video.

  • R O N N I E

    Great video 👏👏👏 I can appreciate the history behind the items. Personally I only wear suits for some reason sport coats & blazers does not appeal to my sense of style.

  • DATING HARLEY QUINN

    ENGLISH SUIT/JACKET = like wearing a straight jacket
    ITALIAN SUIT/JACKET = like wearing a soft sweater
    AMERICAN SUIT/JACKET = like wearing someone else's jacket

  • A. selling

    In 2017 Rafael said in a video (Worth every penny) that they were curently working on pinky rings. Is that some thing that's gonna happen?

  • Henning Gustafsson

    That bow tie looks like an advertisement from a wafer we have here in Sweden. The pattern looks identical and are called kexchoklad.

  • b phillip

    Ah, thank you for setting me straight on this topic and what I wear as a jacket (I've gone an entire lifetime saying "blazer", that is not what I own).
    Great video!

  • Cave Man

    I remember giving this girl on Instagram a compliment on her sport jacket. She replied back with “Thank you, I love all types of blazers”. I died inside a little

  • Martin Parnham

    Thanks for the video. I have a sports jacket, which I've always referred to as such, so it's good to know I wasn't getting it wrong all this time!

    By the way, I love that Austin Reed poster and I have bought a vintage AR suit off eBay off the back of seeing it. Traditional British brand!

  • Anthony Johnson

    I froze the video at the 10 second mark. This should be good. This subject confuses SO MANY people, including me. I think Preston with his very articulate manner and attention to very specific detail, is exactly the person needed for this type of subject. Thanks.

  • Frank Gyori

    Instead of plain or otherwise stamped brass buttons on a blazer, I am wondering if brass buttons with ones own monogram deeply etched into them would be an appropriate addition to the look of the garment?

  • Charlie finlay

    Mr. Schulter: Honestly…where do you get these ideas? Not a bad video …however….where on earth do you get the idea that one can pair a suit jacket with odd trousers?? I am very surprised that you folks at GG, who are advocates of classic and traditional style…would condone such a ridiculous thing. Mr. Raphael wears a beautiful suit with a double-breasted vest…he ruins it with a completely different pair of trousers!! PLEASE!!! It looks as though the trousers made with the suit were worn out and he had to find another pair.

  • Elvis

    Your bow-tie in the thumbnail is crooked. When I clicked on the video to see this injustice in full screen, I found instead it to be just the thumbnail :

  • Charlie finlay

    Mr. Schulter…Your comment.."many men these days are not going to wear any type of tailored jacket….etc…etc.." Where did you get THAT idea ? You come to my firm for an interview..and if you are not attired properly…you do not get past the receptionist….never mind that you'll never get to the interview with one of our Senior Partners. The receptionist will have you summarily removed from our premises…and justifiably so. Therefore, please…let's dispense with all of your PC nonsense…including your references to "bce". Mr. Schulter, this is 2020 A. D. i.e. ANNO DOMINI.

  • Justin Williams

    I work a construction job, so I am not wearing suit and tie every day. One area I have always struggled with is 'business casual' or a bit above that. I want to dress up, but wearing a suit is not always appropriate, and I feel out of place. I am looking for a type of jacket I can pair with slacks or nice jeans and a nicer shirt. I thought what I was after was a 'blazer' but after seeing this video, I'm not sure. My understanding of a sport coat, and the way my father wore his, is more formal then what I am looking for. Am I actually looking for a sport coat, and this is just a style change over the years?

  • Juan Carlos Fondeur

    Would you please tell us what are good sources to buy suiting fabric online? good quality wool from thrusted sellers. Thanks

  • Roger Stratford

    This is the best video I have seen on this topic. Sports jackets are frequently more expensive to buy than full suits, despite being 'casual' or informal. Is there another term we could use then, as 'casual' is normally equated with inexpensive?
    Suits are for the city and therefore an indoor environment (the office). They therefore require a coat to cover outdoors. Sports jackets on the other hand are for the countryside and therefore contain elements of both, as they are required to offer protection from the elements. That's why they are three buttoned, slightly raised, worn with longer sleeves to cover the shirt sleeve completely. You can also wear more hardwearing trousers with a sports.
    That covers men. Unfortunately, women's business attire is all over the place, which suggests that gender should just stay at home or occupy themselves in traditional female roles such as nursing, childrearing or teaching.

  • John Connors

    Of course, to further confuse the issue, are uses of terms like “sports jacket” and “suit coat.” I think it would be good to standardize terms for garments based on clear reference points from physiology. Like coat vs. jacket is really based on where the bottom hem falls in relation to the waist, correct? Jackets fall just to the waist and coats fall (any of various amounts, depending on particular style) below the waist.

  • garmtpug

    Another very interesting video! I love hearing where some terms/words come from and "blazer" is one I won't forget. Very informative and succinct! Well done again, Preston! My favorite teacher!! 🙂

  • HansP-V

    Excellent as usual! I liked Preston posing in a very classic gentlemanly way… chin up, hand nonchalantly in blazer's pocket, almost like Michael Cane does in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" 😉

  • WhimsicalEloquence

    Great video. Just to be clear when you refer to British field sports the term is "shooting" (e.g. pheasant shooting) or "stalking" for deer. Hunting refers to hunting on horseback for fox, deer etc. with hounds.

  • realmakebelieve

    My husband had great style and would have enjoyed your channel. I watch it because of him, as I believe he still dresses with fine finesse, even in Heaven! Plus, I have two sons, whom I want to carry on the tradition.

  • Stan Kolodin

    They should make an online course, call it everything you need to know to be a gentleman or something of that sort, sell it for $15, and make a million.

  • Jeremy T

    Great video as always, guys. I've always admired tweed jackets, though I've never owned one. I'm going have a browse through your older videos to see if you've done one on different ways to wear a tweed jacket today.

  • CARMINEOWNZ

    What would be preferable for a business casual environment where suits are not worn – solid blazers like navy or gray or patterned sports coats? Are either acceptable with a standard dress shirt and tie? Would it be strange to wear sports coats on the more casual side with a silk tie?

  • Mike Kojoori

    I have a hypothesis regarding the blanket usage of the word blazer. I think that sport jacket/coat are commonly understood as casual jackets. Essentially denoting an active lifestyle type of garment. On the other hand a blazer will denote a type of structured garment similar in style to a suit jacket. It's utility to convey an idea (even as a misnomer) is helpful.

    If I wanted to thoroughly search for a suit jacket style of garment I would use Suit jacket/separates, sport coat/jacket and blazer. I think this is particularly useful for finding second hand garments.

  • Caseyjonesbklyn

    Is this station still trying to promote fashion taste while hyping up Daniel Wellington watches? How is the public taking you seriously when you are selling out your viewers by pushing complete junk on them? Shame on you!!

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