The Difference Between Sport Coats, Blazers, and Suit Jackets

  • Writer: Joe Jarvis

Difference Sport Coats Blazers Suit Jackets

(In the “Ask Barkin” series, our head of sales, Michael Barkin, answers questions about style. This particular edition is inspired by a Gawker blog post.)

A couple of weeks ago, Hamilton Nolan advised Gawker readers to avoid wearing sport coats with jeans, saying, “The more fiercely a man argues in favor of wearing sport coats and jeans together, the more plainly the flaws of his character are revealed.”

I disagree. Sport coats look great with jeans, provided that the textures of the two garments work together. But before we get too far into the details around texture, we should probably talk about what a sport coat actually is in the first place. Judging by the Gawker article, there’s a lot of confusion.

Sport coats have patterns, unlike blazers, which are solid and have contrasting buttons. Suit jackets are a different story altogether. They are smooth, have tonal buttons, and should never be worn with anything other than matching suit trousers.

That’s where the Gawker post gets confusing: While the title of the post is “Sport Coats and Jeans: Not Okay,” the accompanying photograph shows two men wearing jeans with suit jackets—not sport coats. Had the author written, “Suit jackets and jeans: Not OK,” I would have agreed wholeheartedly, but not when it comes to denim-friendly sport coats.

To illustrate the differences between these garments, here are two sport coats that we custom-made for a couple of Trunk Club members.

Difference Sport Coats Blazers Suit Jackets

Difference Sport Coats Blazers Suit Jackets

I mentioned the importance of texture when wearing sport coats and blazers with jeans. Whereas suit jackets commonly are made out of mercerized wool, making them smooth and incompatible with denim, the sport coats shown here have a full texture that would match nicely with jeans. A blazer can also work exceptionally well with denim—again, provided that the texture of the blazer complements the texture of your jeans. Either of the fabrics pictured below would be great options.

Difference Sport Coats Blazers Suit Jackets

Difference Sport Coats Blazers Suit Jackets

Navy blazers, by the way, are the ultimate in versatility. You could have three navy blazers in your closet and it would make sense because of how often you can wear them. (That’s why the navy blazer is part of our Six Essentials collection.) Just as everything goes with dark jeans, it’s the same with shirts and a dark blue blazer. Anything you wear underneath is going to match.

So, there you have it. Sport coats or blazers and jeans? Go for it. But suit jackets? That’s the real no-no.

Also—the “texture” guideline also works for wearing dress shoes with jeans.

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