In terms of versatility, there are no rivals to the men's sports jacket.
It can be elegant when worn with trousers or casual when worn with jeans.
The question is…how should I pick the jacket for me?
One way to decide is by considering the pockets.
The pocket style will affect the formality and versatility of the jacket.
The most common pocket is a straight pocket (also known as a jetted pocket) which is sewn inside the coat.
These are versatile, simple and elegant…not to mention ubiquitous.
However, there is a second, albeit lesser known option: patch pockets.
What Are Patch Pockets?
Perhaps the easiest pocket to create, the patch pocket is sewn on the outside of the garment rather than sewn between the shell and the lining.
The shape and size of the patch pocket can vary greatly.
round and beveled pockets are common cuts but not as popular as square-shaped pockets.
They may be sewn with or without flaps and sometimes feature box pleats to expand storage.
The possibilities are far from endless but we all know that too many options can make it difficult to decide.
Let's dig into the history of the pocket and discover what pocket style can say about you.
Where Did Patch Pockets Originate?
Originally, pockets were hung from belts and worn on the outside of garments (yes…the 16th-century fanny pack).
Due to such circumstances as pickpockets, clumsiness, and changes in fashion, tailors began to sew pockets to the garments.
Long story short, patch pockets are successors to hanging pockets and they precede flap pockets.
Exactly who “invented” the patch pockets are lost to history, but the point is that, while rudimentary, they are centuries old.
How Do Patch Pockets Influence The Style Of A Sports Jacket?
We can all agree that dressing sharp for any occasion will receive appropriate attention, but the waters between well dressed and over dressed can be murky.
Enter the sports jacket.
Wearing a jacket to almost any non-formal event will set you apart from the flock.
Being set apart and getting noticed is a good thing, but if you don't want to play it inconspicuously consider a jacket with the less formal patch pocket.
Nothing will ever make a sports jacket a suit jacket but patch pockets are usually large and serve to break up the lines of the jacket, creating a more informal look.
Therefore, sport coats with patch pockets are still going to make you look well-dressed, but not over-dressed as if you would wear a suit or a blazer.
Is A Patch Pocket Sport Coat Too Casual?
Rarely, especially in the United States.
Not many men wear sport coats when they are in public. When the weather permits, you will usually see men wearing dress shirts without a jacket.
Or even worse, when the weather is cool, you could see men commit a classic men's fashion sin by wearing a dress shirt and an athletic jacket.
A sport coat, when accompanied by other appropriate garments, is guaranteed to make you look well-dressed. Of course when a situation calls for a suit than by all means wear your suit.
However, if you are, for example, a manager of a factory, then chances are a suit will be out of place and an unwise decision when you are on the factory floor.
What if you have to look sharp for visitors, but not out of place? A sports jacket with patch pockets fits well in these impromptu situations.
Why? Suits are made to be streamlined and are tailored to situations which formality and appearance are cornerstones; usually giving a tour of the factory floor is not as formal as a sit-down meeting.
Also, the versatile sports jacket is removed from such situations of sit-down formality because the external patch pockets are reminiscent of the blue collar worker's shop coat — a working man's jacket.
Should you want a jacket that is well-fit to your body, but the desire to be versatile, consider your choice of having patch pockets. The cut of the sports jacket will still allow you to wear it to the office and as well to casual situations without a loss of looking sharp.
What Can I Wear With A Patch Pocket Sports Jacket?
The honest answer is it depends. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is my personal style?
- What is the environment like (both ambient and social)?
- What are the color, the fabric, and cut of my jacket?
A Patch pocket sports jacket will help you look sharp when the coat is paired with a complementary pair of trousers. Depending on your personal style and physical attributes, some men can pull off a sports jacket with jeans.
A patch pocket sports jacket paired with a complementary button down shirt with the collar undone is a very casual look. If you want to trend toward the classy, then button up the collar and wear a casual tie.
If you want to dress warmly for those crisp autumn days, then try to find a fitted cardigan sweater that coordinates well.
Through personal experience, I know that a jacket and a dress shirt will keep me warm enough in the weather we have in Wisconsin in October.
There are some men, however, who need that extra layer. If you are one of those men, then a sweater is a great addition to add warmth, layering, and style to your outfit.
3 How To Wear A Patch Pocket Sports Jacket
Tip #1: Patch all your pockets
If you decide to have a jacket with patch pockets, make sure that all your pockets are patched. One jetted chest pocket with two patch pockets does not look finished.
Keep it consistent.
Tip #2: Do not overstuff the patch pockets
Even if you find the patch pockets convenient for pocketing all of your belongings (wallet, keys, gloves, cell phone, pen, etc.), you should treat the patch pockets no different than straight pockets. It may seem paradoxical that larger pockets do not mean more capacity, but patch pockets should not be treated like tool-belt compartments. Be gentle with your garment.
Tip #3: Pocket squares work when the patch pockets are without flaps
It is very difficult to use a pocket square when your sports coat has patch pockets with flaps. The flaps on a patch pocket sports coat may resemble older-style jungle BDUs and may impede the use of a pocket square.
Whatever the reason, avoid pocket squares. If you want an accessory that adds visual appeal to your sports coat with flapped patch pockets, then consider wearing a lapel pin or even a boutonniere.
Parting Thoughts On The Patch Pocket Sport Coat
A sports coat is a valuable piece of men's classic fashion. It has been around in various styles for more than 200 years and it is not going to fall out of style in our lifetime. If you understand the importance of a jacket and you want to wear one when out in public, then consider saving your money and purchasing a quality-made, fitted sports coat.
You do not have to drop thousands of dollars for a coat, we are real men with real budgets. Invest in the best you can afford. If it is a garment purchased off the rack, then make sure you go to a competent tailor and have it altered to your body.
A sports coat with patch pockets is an excellent way to have style through layering, material and visual appeal. Consider next time when you are looking for a casual coat a sports coat with patch pockets.
Interested to learn the difference between a sports coat, suit, and blazer?