Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
Every wondered the difference between a Blazer, Sport Coat and Suit Jacket? Don’t worry you aren’t the only one.
The classic blazer is one of the bare essentials of a man’s wardrobe, but perfecting a quality look which is both sophisticated and modern can be a bit tricky to pull off, when as consumers, we are overloaded with choices (often poor) of the timeless silhouette.
A blazer is an undeniably smart piece of clothing that instantly steps up your game however you chose to wear it. If you are dressing up or dressing down, the blazer jacket instantly adds a certain class, sophistication and maturity to your look, even when part of a T-shirt blazer combo.
The blazer has become an indispensable garment: classy, unisex, urban. Despite being associated with formal dress, a blazer should not be limited only to more formal occasions and can be easily introduced into your day-to-day dress. It is the definitive item of the smart casual look. So if you want to bag yourself some cool blazer looks continue reading this style guide
The Subtle Differences
To help you get to grips with wearing blazers and the differences between a blazer, a sports coat and a suit jacket we have compiled some simple lists of characteristics of each garment.
As a rule of thumb, the characteristics of a man’s blazer include:
- A solid colour (usually dark or navy)
- A high quality fabric
- Usually made from worsted wool, hopsack or wool flannel
- Often features a contrasting button colour such as gold or silver
- Minimal design
- Single or double-breasted style
- Peak lapels (for double-breasted blazers)
- Is a standalone piece and not part of an ensemble
- Can be worn with jeans, a T-shirt and trainers
- Polyester blazers can often be found on the high-street
- Blazer length – Mid to lower crotch – Mid-crotch if you’re under 5ft 9inches, lower than that if you’re taller than 5′ 9″
Common fabrics for the blazer include:
- Worsted Wool
Sport Coat (or Sports Jacket)
The sport coat was traditionally considered to be a morning jacket of the male upper-class to be paired with trousers of a different colour. The sport jacket was strictly used for sporting activities such as hunting and are therefore made from a more robust fabric and allow more freedom of movement. You can also get mens unstructured sport coats these are very similar is shape and style, however the do not have any padding in allowing for extra movement and a relaxed look.
The sport jacket comes in a large variety of colours and patterns. It is also not as structured as suit jackets or blazers, and tends to fit much looser to the body. A sport jacket should allow you to layer a sweater underneath and to engage in sport. Originally, the sport jacket was not considered an item of formal attire.
As a Rule of Thumb, the Characteristics of a Modern Sport Coat Include:
- Pockets with flaps
- Often an extra flapped pocket
- Softer construction than a suit jacket
- Somewhat rustic look (even when made in cashmere)
- Elbow patches on the arms
- Slit and pleats in the back
- Sports coat length – mid to lower crotch
Common fabrics for the sport coat include:
- Houndstooth & Shepherd’s Check
Suit Jacket (or Suit Coat)
The suit jacket is the most common jacket worn by men. The suit jacket is of a much lighter material than the blazer and the sports coat, this is one of the key ways which you can distinguish the suit jacket from its counterparts. The fabric also tends to be of a much higher quality.
As a rule of Thumb, the Characteristics of a Man’s Suit Jacket Include:
- Very fine material and is lighter than the blazer/sport coat
- Is part of a trouser ensemble and is made from the same fabric swatch
- Finely tailored
- Should always be worn with the matching trousers
- Is of a closer and tighter fit than the blazer/sport coat
- Not meant to be layered and should be worn with either a shirt or a thin sweater
- Should not be paired with unmatching trousers or jeans
Common fabrics for the suit jacket include:
- Worsted Wool
What is a Suit?
A suit is a two-piece set that is cut from the same cloth, usually in a jacket and trouser form. There are many different forms of suits ranging from black tie to dinner suits. Suits often vary in design either being single or double breasted, but also a two-piece or a three-piece suit. Finding the right suit for depends on you suit needs, do you need it for work or special occasion? Most men own a few suit options that can be used for different occasions.
Difference between Blazer and Suit
Really simple, a suit is a set usually consisting of a jacket and trouser, were as a blazer is a jacket.
Types of Blazers
If you are shopping for a blazer you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of choice you have on the marketplace. But when shopping for a new blazer, keep in mind that double-breasted and the two-button are the most classic blazer silhouettes. An important thing to consider when shopping for that all important blazer is whether you are looking for something for a casual or a more formal occasion. Be sure to check out the details of a blazer when shopping in store. Patch pockets and unstructured blazers (those without padding) are a feature of a casual blazer’s silhouette, which wouldn’t be appropriate in a professional or formal setting as it creates a very relaxed look.
Tips For Buying the Perfect Blazer
Now we know the differences between the types of jackets, its time to look at the different attributes that go into buying your perfect blazer.
Now let’s get on to the basics of actually choosing a blazer. One of the most important things to consider when shopping for a new blazer is of course the colour. The colour is basically up to you; there are several important details to consider however, when shopping for the perfect look to fit in with your lifestyle.
Consider choosing a colour that will go best with the items already waiting in your wardrobe. Grey, navy and black are the safest and most versatile, while brown is a great casual option. A dark or navy blazer would be a great choice as it hides stains, will appear less dirty and will go with more things. Keep this in mind if you have a variety of shirts and T-shirts that you wish to pair with your new blazer.
If you want something trendier and wish to experiment with colour, go for a more vibrant blue or maroon as colour is a great way to express your personality. I am a big blazer wearer and though my black blazer is the most practical item in my wardrobe, I do get a kick out of wearing a vibrant green or a chewing-gum white blazer, or even a simple grey blazer with shocking pink lining. Another way to play with colour is getting a blazer with a coloured lining, this gives the blazer a more luxurious appeal. Just ask Rhys:
A blazer opens up a portfolio of options. Ranging from casual to dapper gentleman you can style your blazer to fit any event. For an evening dinner, I suggest wearing smart jeans and a casual shirt with a pin down lapel. For an up class venue, wear a dress shirt with a bow tie, collar pin and pocket square.
When picking a colour for your blazer don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Quirky colour choices and co-ordinated outfits will let your individuality shine. A day is always more enjoyable when you’re wearing something you feel is yours to show. The possibilities are endless
– Rhys Jackson, Shop Assistant at Next
One of the things you have to nail when shopping for that perfect blazer is the fit. The sleeves should always fall just above the hand and be slim fitted around the arms. Blazers should be tapered into the waist, unless you are of a very slender build. The length of your blazer should only fall a couple of inches past the hip-bone, too long and you could end up looking like a child trying on your father suit. Make sure your collar is fitted correctly. If you’re wearing a shirt then your jacket collar should rest against your shirt collar. Your blazer should fit closely, but not so tight that you get an ‘X’ mark across your chest. And it is advisable to only do up the top button of a blazer jacket for aesthetic reasons.
When trying on a blazer in store, make sure to button up the jacket in order to see if the blazer is too snug or too loose on the body. If the blazer pulls and forms an ‘X’ when buttoned or if the shoulders and sleeves seem pulled: the blazer is too small. If the shoulders extend past your natural shoulder line, have a wrinkled appearance or if the cuffs of the jacket extend past your knuckles: the blazer is too large.
When getting a jacket you want to make sure you’re comfortable and fashionable. Any suit specialist worth their salt will be able to advice you on how well the fit suits you if you haven’t the option of a bespoke fit. Try on what the company has to offer and go with what feels right for you. Don’t be afraid to challenge the staff if you feel it’s not right for you
– Rhys Jackson, Shop Assistant at Next
What to Wear With Corduroy Blazers
When shopping for a new blazer why not consider shopping a corduroy blazer. The corduroy blazer has received a lot of bad press and has been seen as a very dated item or a look worn by school teachers, but when paired with a shirt and crew neck, it is a great smart casual item. So how do you upgrade the look to fit to modern sensibilities? Stay away from the colour brown when looking for a corduroy blazer to avoid looking out-of-touch. Consider getting a corduroy blazer in the colour navy, which would look so much more on trend in our modern climate.
We asked Instagramer Heritage Haberdashery for their advice on accessorising a corduroy blazer:
Always wear a corduroy blazer with Selvedge denim, a belt, boots and an Oxford cloth button down shirt. Must wear a tie. I recommend a tie with some texture
– Heritage Haberdashery, Blogger
Blazers are a great investment for your wardrobe because they are so versatile, just ask Shani:
Blazers are a MUST for your wardrobe because they are so versatile. From casual to classy, blazers can be the perfect addition to almost any outfit to really pull it together. For more formal events you can’t go wrong with the classic pairing of the dress shirt and tie. I typically go for basic/neutral colours like navy blue, dark grey, or black for the blazer, with black & white for the pant/shirt, and almost any tie will do. For casual use I can get very creative with the same coat, paired with dark washed jeans or a brightly coloured trouser that are well-fitted, giving me a youthful and vibrant look. The blazer is surely an eclectic piece for any wardrobe
– Shani Varner, Model
So now we have the styles and buying guide down, it’s time to look at what to wear with blazers.
What to Wear With a Blazer
Depending on what look you’re going for there are so many different options on how to wear a blazer. Here is a few formal, smart casual and casual men’s blazer looks to get your brain ticking:
Formal Blazer Look
Formal doesn’t always mean a suit. If you’re going to an event why not try putting on a statement blazer, just remember with this to keep the rest of your outfit neutral.
Smart Casual Blazer Look
Who said jeans can’t be smart casual? Take this look for instance, wear your favourite blazer with a light blue shirt then pair down with jeans. The perfect look if your going to a casual dinner party with friends. Another smart casual look that works great is the blazer with sweater, this is perfect for the winter months.
How to Wear a Blazer Casually
To wear your blazer in a casual way is easy, you can either go with a typical jeans and blazer look. However, why not try getting some matching chino and get some layering involved?
Short Suit Jacket Trend
Be wary of this trend, it sits well within the fashion world, but not in the office. The shrunken jacket trend was popularised by designer Thom Browne and features a short suit jacket length the sit above the hip, with trouser that give your ankle (and maybe shin) a flash.
T-Shirt With Blazer
The T-shirt blazer combo is one that has been popularised recently. It’s the perfect way to wear your blazer causally but also look chic. This outfit always looks great with a crisp white tee and when styled right can even pass for smart casual.
History: What is a Blazer?
What is a blazer? A blazer over time has become the umbrella term for basically any jacket of a fine material that has sleeves and lapels and is not part of a trouser ensemble, but there are key differences between the blazer, the sports coat and the suit jacket. The blazer was popularised by the British Navy in the early nineteenth century, after the British royalty gave their approval to the garment in 1837.
At the time, the blazer was navy, double-breasted with six buttons; the single-breasted blazer however, has no military connections and came into usage mostly at British rowing clubs. The look had only two buttons which allowed the rowers freedom of movement.
Nowadays, there are many variants of these two original British blazers. The classic blazer remains an incredibly popular garment as it compliments a man’s build, yet it is often mistaken for the suit jacket or the sport coat.
Your Quick Guide to Blazers, Sports Jackets and Suit Jackets
- Thinking when to wear a blazer? Don’t. Like we have stated above a blazer is for any occasion
- Everyman needs a suit, or at the very least a suit jacket. So if you haven’t got one already it’s time to make a purchase
- Remember the most important thing during purchasing is the fit of the jacket, anything less than perfect can throw your outfit off
- Play with different colours, don’t just stick to a monotone palette
- Formal doesn’t always mean a suit, see this as a time to really play with your style
On That Note…
So guys if you are looking to get your look spot on when shopping for your next blazer, sports coat or suit jacket make sure to follow our advice when bagging yourself your perfect jacket. Every man should have a good, solid blazer to cover them during colder weather. Make sure to pay attention to the details and take the time to consider the perfect colour, fit and style to incorporate into your quotidian. But in the end, it’s all about your personal preferences and what looks best on you. A perfectly fitted blazer jacket is a great investment for somebody looking to add a staple garment to their wardrobe and will guarantee that you will always step out in style, even when paired with a t-shirt and jeans.