There are many contentious and divisive topics surrounding menswear.
Should I be wearing black and blue together?
When is the best time to wear a bowtie?
What sneakers can I wear with my suit?
Is it pink or salmon? (Sorry Ross, our money is on pink)
Broad, narrow, skinny, or square ties?
We don’t have the time to address all of them. But we will talk about one that’s been running through our minds here at Tip Top - the difference between sport jackets, blazers, and suit jackets.
“Most things are judged by their jackets.”
- Baltaser Gracian, philosopher -
Intro to Jackets
Let’s get it out of the way - these are all jackets.
Merriam-Webster defines a jacket as,
“A garment for the upper body usually having a front opening, collar, lapels, sleeves, and pockets.”
A jacket is an extra layer to keep you warm or cool depending on the season - all the while refining your overall outfit.
The only one of the bunch that you will wear as a coordinate, ie. matching pants and/or vest. Because of the fully paired look, suit jackets are the most tailored piece on this list.
Suits are for formal and business events, where the choice of colour will convey the tone that you are trying to reflect. Lighter tones are perfect for summer weddings, darker tones are perfect for fall.
Suit jackets should fit slim to the body for a cleaner look, but that also prevents most layering. Keep this in mind for colder months, as you will typically need a topcoat as well.
One of the coolest things that we’ve noticed is the use of performance driven comfort with traditional tailoring. Gone are the days of stuffy and stiff suits. Check out Daniel Hechter’s DH-XTECH suit.
Another (re-)emerging trend is patterned suits. Referring to England’s tailoring district, Savile Row, these attention grabbing plaids add impeccable detail.
But what if a matching suit isn’t available…
Tailored to fit like a suit jacket, you will wear your blazer with a different coloured trouser. This is the perfect jacket for you if you bought an amazing pair of slacks or chinos on sale.
This brings up another question - “If I don’t wear the matching pants, does the suit jacket become a blazer?”
No, this isn’t an Optimus Prime-Transformer jacket.
Blazers are slightly casual in look and fit, giving you a bit more room for breathability and layering. Even the detailing tends to be more casual - metal buttons, contrast stitching, and a ticket pocket.
That’s right, blazers are so well-loved that globetrotters used to wear them all the time, stashing train tickets in this specific pocket.
With that said, blazers have become synonymous with business casual attire, earning it a seat at the boardroom table.
But if you wanted to wear jeans...
As we mentioned in another article, sport jackets were originally made for sports and movement.
That includes everything from hunting and equestrian sports, to chasing down the garbage truck. It’s intended to keep up with you - day-in, day-out.
Often made of a hearty twill or wool-blend, sport jackets also come in summer styles made of cotton or linen. With this many options, sport jackets are a versatile piece that you can wear throughout the year.
Picking the Right Jacket for You
There is no straight answer here: it all depends on your lifestyle and where you see yourself wearing it.
If you’re intending to wear this everyday and not in a matching set, we’d recommend a sport jacket.
If you’re looking to wear something for a dressy-casual event, try a blazer.
If you need a full suit, obviously you’ll end up with a suit jacket in the process.
But ultimately, it’s important that you're confident and comfortable in your outfit. It doesn’t matter how much you dress like Idris Elba or how many compliments you receive - if you’re not comfortable, you won’t feel your best.
“Wear Clothes, don’t let clothes wear you.”
- Antonio Centeno, Real Men Real Style -
We hope that we helped you figure out the best option for your lifestyle! Stay tuned to the blog and see what other menswear mysteries we will solve.For an in-depth look at materials and the history of each jacket, check out the Art of Manliness blog.