Suit Jacket, Sportcoat, Blazer: What's The Difference?

Suit Jacket, Sportcoat, Blazer: What's The Difference?

Suit jacket, sportcoat, blazer. These three terms are often used interchangeably, but they each refer to something different. While those differences may be small, they each cater to distinct situations, surroundings and dress codes.

What’s a Suit Jacket?
Ok, this one’s a bit obvious. A suit jacket is a tailored jacket with matching trousers. It’s the matching factor that turns these two separate garments into a suit. What a suit jacket isn’t is a sportcoat or a blazer (more on that below).

Suits will always present the most formal option, whether it’s a dark blue business suit, a tuxedo or even a boldly-colored linen option. While it’s not always the case, suits are often made from finer, more tightly woven fabrics.

What’s a Sportcoat?
A sportocat is a tailored jacket that does not correspond to a pair of matching trousers. The fact that it doesn’t form part of a suit makes it less formal, and sportcoats are often made from fabrics with more open weaves and texture, which helps them pair with wool trousers, cotton chinos, or even jeans. In addition, sportcoats are sometimes cut slightly shorter than suit jackets and are more likely to feature patch pockets.

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What’s a Blazer?
The definition of suit jacket or a sportcoat is clear-cut, but things get murkier with the blazer. Blazers do not have matching pants, so it’s fair to say that all blazers are sportcoats, but not all sportcoats are blazers.

What’s the deciding factor? It comes down to buttons. Blazers classically feature gold or brass buttons, which historically signified membership in a club or society. Over time the exclusive connotations faded, and the blue blazer became a business casual staple that pairs equally well with dark wool trousers or light-colored chinos.

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