Can you wear a suit jacket as a sport coat? Yes and no. That simply depends on the suit jacket in question. I recently took one my mtm-suit jackets and wore it for three different attires with some cotton trousers and denim. In this post I will take a closer look of those combinations.
Suit jacket, sport coat and blazer. Most men use these terms interchangeably. And so do in fact many men's clothing retailers as well. But naturally there are differences between these type of jackets. And those differences have effects on the fact how you can and how you should wear them.
In my opinion there are a few things that are good to keep in mind if you want to wear your suit jacket as a blazer. The most important simply is that does the jacket look like you can wear it without matching trousers.
Suit jacket as a blazer or sport coat
To put it shortly, sports coats are in general the least formal type of tailored jackets. Sport coats usually have strong textures, patterns, and they are most often single-breasted, with 2 or 3 buttons. Blazers are a bit more formal. Usually they are blue (navy) and can feature metal or brass buttons. Some blazers may also have bold, vividly colored stripes. And they may be single or double-breasted.
In principle suit jackets are the most formal type of tailored jackets. But the reality naturally depends on the suit. If you have a casual olive green cotton suit, the jacket is for sure less formal than a classic navy blazer with brass buttons for example.
Maximize the use of your suit jacketsWhat really matters, though, is knowing how to maximize the use of your suit jackets by wearing them separately with odd trousers such as chinos or jeans. The jackets that you can wear separately need to be less formal. And they need to have quite a strong character. When you think about pairing your suit jacket with odd trousers, you can start by checking the list below. You should make sure that the jackets checks at least two mentioned features before mismatching your suit jacket and pants.
- Texture - the more texture you have on your suit jacket, the more possibilities you have to wear it as a separate.
- Pattern - the suit jackets with pattern are always easier to pair with odd trousers.
- Details - in the end it's all about the details. Jackets with patch pockets and 3-roll-2 buttoning for example are more appropriate to wear as a sport coat than jackets with ticket pockets, heavily padded shoulders or peak lapels.
- Color - Lighter shades work better as sport coats than very dark ones, especially during summer season. Never wear a black suit jacket as a sport coat. On the other hand dark blue is an exception that works basically every time.
When to wear suit jacket as a sport coat
For the most situations, you should wear your suits as a full set. So you should pair the suit jacket with matching trousers. One reason for this is that if you wear your suit jacket as a sport coat and pair it with odd trousers or jeans, it can wear or fade differently than the suit trousers. If you do this a lot, the jacket and trousers of the suit may not look congruous.
One rule or an advice to keep in mind is this: When you look at the suit jacket away from the trousers, if it looks like the jacket is missing its partner, that's a sign that you can't wear it as a sport coat. If the jacket looks like it can manage on its own and you feel you could buy it as a separate, that's a good sign. As a general rule, avoid wearing a pinstripe suit jackets without the matching trousers. Personally I would most of times avoid chalk stripes as well. Plain jackets and plaids are much safer in this regard as they are commonly used on sport coats and blazers.
Blue suit jacket as a sport coat
Navy blazer with gray flannel trousers is a classic combination especially for fall and winter season. For spring and summer you can replace the flannel trousers by light colored cotton slacks. And if you look for an easy way to start testing how to wear your suit jackets as separates, a plain navy suit jacket would definitely be the easiest option.
For this post however I chose to wear a mid-blue suit jacket made by Herrainpukimo. You can see the suit jacket with matching trousers for example on my earlier post about orange tie with blue suit. First I paired it with light colored cotton slacks, light blue striped shirt, floral patterned silk tie and suede loafers.
Before taking a look of this particular combination, I will briefly go through the above-mentioned "check list" and see whether this jacket should be able to wear as a sport coat.
- The jacket is made of wool-silk-linen cloth with a subtle herringbone pattern. So the fabric has a nice texture which you can see when you take a closer look.
- The jacket features herringbone pattern. It is not as bold as some checks or stripes for example but it gives the jacket more visual interest and depth.
- The jacket features 3-roll-2 buttoning, two patch pockets, soft shoulders and minimal lining. All these features makes it to look more like a sport coat or a blazer.
- The jacket is mid-blue which makes it quite easy to pair with different kind of shirts, trousers and accessories. And the color is definitely appropriate for a sport coat.
To sum up, the jacket checks at least three of the required features. Therefore I dare to say that in general it is suitable to wear as a sport coat.
The mid-blue Herrainpukimo suit jacket with light colored cotton slacks
First as you can see I paired the jacket with a light blue striped shirt and light colored trousers. If you want to play safe, it is good to have enough contrast between the upper and lower parts of your outfit. And darker jacket with light colored trousers is a simple choice. And if you wear a tie, it should always be darker than the shirt you wear. In general you can't go wrong if you choose your jacket color as a base color of your tie. The shade can be different, as you can see here. The dark blue silk works very nicely with light blue of the shirt and the blue shade of the jacket.
Wear it for summer parties
The outfit here would be a perfect to wear for work. Actually the tie you see here is another sample for our upcoming line of classic DLA business ties. Printed silk tie with a floral print is a classic. And you could say that it is a wardrobe staple for a man who wears a suit and a tie. Printed silk ties are also a good way to step out of your daily routine of wearing a solid, striped or abstract silk ties. And as printed silk ties generally consist of repeating motifs, this kind of neckties generally pair up well with solid suits and jackets.
But a blue blazer or a blue suit jacket with light colored cotton slacks is also a good option for smart casual summer parties. If you would like to dress up a combination like this, just change the shirt to a plain white one. And if I was heading to some party, I would also change the tie to a plain navy grenadine or linen piece for example.
DLA Kullervo pocket square and suede loafers by Christian Kimber
In the pictures you can see me wearing the DLA Kullervo pocket square. The most obvious choice for this kind of an outfit would have a been a square with blue base color and some red pattern. That mostly because then it would have matched with the pattern of the tie. And it would also have repeated the color of the jacket. Instead I chose the Kullervo square as it actually was the one and only I had with me for the trip where these shots were taken. But I also like it in this combination first of all as it features the dark blue borders that repeats the base color of the tie. Secondly the shades of yellow and brown on the square match to the suede loafers I wore. And that way the square also keeps the attire in balance from head to toe.
Blue suit jacket with dark trousers - play with denim
Then another option to wear the blue suit jacket as a sport coat. With dark colored trousers. And actually this part features two different combinations. One with a tie. And one without. So basically it is the same outfit which I wanted to showcase also with the tie, even though I really wore it without. I wore this outfit to travel when we headed to Tallinn a couple of weeks ago.
I have earlier wrote about wearing ties with jeans. This combination however is a bit different, as the trousers are more like slacks made of denim cloth. If you want to see more of the trousers, you can check for example my earlier post where I wear them with a checked sport coat and a shantung tie. Just to make sure, even though this particular suit jacket is rather casual and checks the features of what you need to wear a suit jacket as a sport coat, I probably still would not wear it with basic light blue jeans.
As mentioned multiple times, if you wear a jacket and trousers that are not a suit, you should have some contrast in between them. But the contrast does not always need to be very strong or intense. The first outfit in this post is an example of more highlighted contrast. But as you can see, here both parts feature a shade of blue. Here the contrast comes first of all from the different textures. And secondly it comes via the shirt I am wearing. The white shirt gives enough contrast and at the same time it keeps the whole outfit together.
The suit jacket and denim slacks - with and without a tie
So I originally wore this outfit without a tie. And I wore it with classic Superga canvas sneakers. But then I thought that actually I could easily dress it up a notch. I changed the sneakers for suede tassel loafers. And I added a tie. And as a result I got a combination that was perfectly appropriate and nice to wear for a couple of drinks at the hotel lobby bar. By this I also wanted to showcase the power of simple and versatile garments. By changing just two pieces of the same outfit you get an attire appropriate for quite a different purpose.
As you might have noticed from my posts and pictures, I personally like orange color a lot. And in my opinion orange works great with different shades of blue and brown. So when I was choosing a pocket square for this outfit I went for the white linen square with orange borders. I wanted to keep the attire without a tie pretty plain. Plain jacket, plain trousers, plain shirt and sneakers. So I decided to add just a little bit of that contrast by wearing that orange border on the pocket square. And as the tie I took with me features orange floral pattern, I did not need to make any changes regarding the square, even though I added the tie to the mix.
Sum up - remember that not every suit jacket can be sport coat
That's a good rule to keep in mind. Not every suit jacket can be a sport coat. And understanding whether you can wear a suit jacket as a sport coat is pretty much one of those things you just need to learn. The reason for this is simply that wrong pairing does not look good. But the good thing is that this is quite an easy task to handle. And if you are not sure, you can just play safe and wear your suits jackets with the matching trousers.
As a sum-up I will give you five points to think and consider. I hope these will help you to wear your suit jackets in right way.
- Favor notch lapels. Naturally this does not apply to double-breasted jackets as they always have peak lapels, but in general a peak lapel is basically always dressier and more formal than a notch lapel. And don't wear your tuxedo jacket as a blazer.
- The more rugged the fabric, the easier it will be to pull it off with odd trousers. If you have a suit jacket made of silk or very thin wool fabric, it will be safer to wear it with matching trousers.
- Try unlined jackets. Most of all my suits are unlined but in general unlined jackets will feel much more at home with jeans or other casual trousers.
- Can you wear the jacket without a tie? If the jacket looks like it is meant to be worn only with a tie, it is better to wear it with matching trousers as well.
- Go for pattern. The bolder the pattern the easier it is to wear the jacket as a sport coat. But remember that very bold patterns are not that easy to pull off as a suit.