What's the difference really?
Can I wear my suit jacket as a blazer jacket?
Are blazer jackets and sports jackets interchangeable?
To the man who doesn’t know any better these three classic menswear pieces all seem alike.
He probably believes they all have the same function too.
It also doesn’t help that many sales personnel selling these items don’t know the difference themselves.
However YOU can be different.
You CAN know better.
It’s these same details that make one better suited to a particular occasion versus the other.
If you’re a little confused about what really sets these three pieces apart from each other, there is nothing to worry about.
This guide should help you spell out the difference between a sports jacket, a blazer and a suit in no time.
1. The Suit jacket
A suit jacket is a jacket that is made with a matching pair of trousers. The suit jacket and trousers will always be made from same exact fabric.
Because it is so important that the jacket and the trousers match up, it is not recommended for one to wear the suit jacket as a sports jacket or a blazer as this may result in the jacket being washed more than the trousers. This can cause a difference of color to develop between the two making them appear mismatched.
Among the three items, suit jackets are considered the most formal.
Given its formal nature it follows that it will be the simplest among the three.
A suit jacket is devoid of fancy pockets and extra details.
While some suits come in stripes and checks, it is still best to avoid these busy patterns for one’s first suits. Better options would be suits that are charcoal gray, navy blue, lighter gray and black for black tie events.
The buttons on today’s suit jackets will usually be plastic. However higher end suits may come with horn or mother-of-pearl buttons.
A suit jacket is made to fit slimmer. It should fit close to the body. It is also not meant to be worn with multiple layers underneath.
Most fabrics used for suit jackets will be solid colors. However it is still possible to find pinstripe or checked suits.
Again the suit jacket is the most formal among the three items of clothing.
Suit jackets will usually come with notched lapels. Occasionally peak lapels are used in suits. As for black tie tuxedos, shawl and peak lapels are the most common.
2. The Blazer Jacket
The blazer is a step lower than the suit jacket. It is a hybrid of sorts because it is more formal than a sports jacket but unlike the suit jacket, a blazer is not made with a matching pair of trousers.
Blazers have a looser fit compared to suit jackets. They are also not as structured especially in the shoulder area.
A blazer of Italian heritage will have a looser and more relaxed build.
Most blazers in the market are navy blue in color. The most common fabrics used include blue worsted serge, flannel and hopsack.
Of course there are always exceptions as there are green and red blazers out there. Take note that these are very rare and should not be taken as the norm.
As previously mentioned the blazer is a step below the suit jacket.
As such they are great to wear for sporting events and weekend events. It is recommended that you wear a blazer any time a suit is not appropriate but you still need to dress up.
Gray flannel trousers, chinos and even dark jeans are all great items to pair with a blazer. Covered twill and corduroy pants work beautifully as well.
Another detail that sets blazers apart from the suit jacket is its buttons. Blazers will have gold, silver or mother of pearl buttons.
3. The Sports Jacket
Derivative of its name the sports jacket was originally the attire worn by a sporting man.
The sports jacket’s original function affects its fit. A sports jacket should always fit loose enough to allow for layering underneath.
The loose fit of the sports jacket allows one to wear a sweater underneath. It is definitely looser than a suit jacket.
The sports jacket was meant to look more rugged than the suit and the blazer.
As such, sturdier fabrics were used. The most popular fabric used in sports jackets of include tweeds such as hounds tooth and Donegal.
Other fabrics that have a rough and napped texture may also be used to make sports jackets.
All of the fabrics mentioned usually come in shades of brown, green, gray and blue. It is also common to find sports jackets in checked patterns.
Again, we go back to the original purpose of the sports jacket. It was meant to function as sporting attire for a gentleman.
This accounts for the jacket’s more rugged appearance as well as for some of its style details.
Pleats, arm patches and ticket pockets are all details found on a sports jacket that are meant to serve various functions.
A sports jackets will usually come with a sport lapel which can be closed completely to protect the chest and neck area.
The sports jacket is also the most casual among the three clothing items discussed today.
As such, it is never acceptable to wear a sports jacket when a suit is required.
A good idea is to invest in a sports jacket after you have invested in your first suit. A sports jacket will have more uses than a blazer as it lends itself to a number of casual and slightly dressy occasions.