Sport Coat vs. Suit Jacket: Settling a Well-Established Rivalry
Male formalwear is whirlwind of clothing and accessories sure to confound any novice in men’s fashion. Pocket squares, cummerbunds, collar stays…there are so many nuanced details that compose a well-dressed man. If you are new to formal male attire, not to worry, we’ll start from square one: the suit.
One of the most important components of a suit is what you wear up top. The sport coat and the suit jacket are the two most common formal male garments. Though the two terms seem to be self-explanatory, you may still have trouble distinguishing the two not only in definition, but also in everyday wear. Which is the better option when looking to dress to impress, the sports coat or the suit jacket?
The answer has changed from generation to generation. Today’s idea of men’s fashion has veered significantly from the everyday expectation of dress in the 60’s, 70’s, or even 80’s! In decades past, any man with an office job wore a suit jacket. It was expected, almost required. Business meetings, formal dinners; no one would be caught dead with out the proper suit jacket and tie with matching shoes and belt – and the occasional cigarette/ cocktail combination à la Mad Men. The silhouette has been seen for decades; simply put, long, slim pants with a matching well-fitted jacket. A suit jacket and its matching suit pants are one of the great (fashion) love stories of our time. They are literally made for each other and each appear off kilter when worn separately.
Suit Jacket Pros:
- Material: Meant to be the dressiest of menswear, behind a formal tuxedo of course, a suit jacket is made from finer, lighter materials making it easier to go from day to nighttime wear.
Commonly, suits are made from wool or a wool blend, cotton or even linen. Linen or cotton seersucker suits are a staple in the South during the spring and summer months.
- Appearance: If properly tapered, a suit can slim and elongate the wearer’s silhouette.
- Dual Wear: Suits are appropriate for environments including: business meetings, cocktail parties, andweddings.
- Complements Accessories:ArtOfManliness.comsuggests, “More formal shoes look best with a suit jacket. Stick with either close-laced oxfords or brogues in either dark brown, black, or burgundy.”
Though the suit jacket has a long-standing history with male formalwear, it is beginning to be substituted for other jacket-style options. One of the more modern alternatives is the sport coat. Originally, sport coats were worn exclusively as casual attire. Now, however, more and more men are wearing sport coats in formal settings. Private school uniforms seem to have popularized the trend.
If a suit jacket is less your speed, maybe due to the lack of fashion opportunities, try a men’s sport coat. The sport coat monopolizes the middle ground left by a suit jacket while still wanting to look presentable. Unlike the suit jacket, the independence of the jacket leaves a wide range of outfits to prepare the wearer for myriad situations. More options are available when it comes to fabrics, colors and details that can go into a sports coat. Like the suit jacket, the sports coat offers a cut that is flattering to the body and frames the face.
Sport Coat Pros:
- Multitude of Fabric options: navy wool, camel hair, madras, corduroy, plaid, houndstooth, etc.
- Multitude of Finishings (buttons): low-key horn, brass, nickel and the occasional plastic button
- Price:Because of the unlimited possibilities when it comes to fabric, color and cut; men’s sport coats can be priced in a wide range across the board – as little as $100 to as much as $1,000.
- Style:sport coats grant more opportunity for creative flair as they can be made of a variety of fabrics and furnishings and can be worn both formally and casually.
Both the suit jacket and the sport coat have a place in a man’s wardrobe. Each serves its own purpose. So when it comes down to the age-old question of suit jacket vs. sports coat? The real winner is you, the man with the wardrobe to face any and all situations with style.