When you’re looking for a new jacket, it can be tricky to determine what classifies as a suit, blazer, or sport coat at first glance. Simply thinking about it stirs questions like: What is the difference between a suit jacket, blazer, and sport coat anyway? Which dress codes require a jacket and which ones don’t? What type of jacket is appropriate for each? Who am I? Am I truly happy? The nuances causing these questions are downright annoying, but if you want to get it right, buy the jacket you really need, look dress-code appropriate, and crush the fit we have your back.
What’s the difference between a Suit Jacket, Blazer, and Sport Coat?
When you walk into a store like Suit Supply, it can be hard to determine the difference between a suit jacket, a blazer, and a sport coat. Many retail associates when asked this question can barely answer definitively. Some say it’s based on formality, with Suits being the most formal, Sport Coats being the least and Blazers sitting in the middle. While this ranking is accurate, the difference really comes down to construction, fit, and fabric.
The easiest way to separate a suit jacket from the rest is the shoulder construction. Suit jackets will have a bit more padding and you will also notice a bit of a bump at the seam where the shoulder meets the sleeve. This allows for a more straight drape from the shoulder to the elbow, giving it a more formal style. Conversely, the blazer and sporting jacket will have a shoulder/sleeve seam that looks more rounded like a shirt, with no padding.
Beyond the shoulder, a suit tends to have more subtle details like the option of a ticket pocket and buttons that are made of (or resemble) horn that aligns to a more formal style. Blazers tend to have more flashy buttons (traditionally gold), and sport coats can have buttons made of or covered in leather. In addition, sport coats can have elbow patches and additions of leather at the lapel, under the collar, or at the opening of the sleeve.
This is a simple one. Suit jackets are designed to be the most form-fitting out of all of the jackets as they are meant to be worn with a single collared shirt, or maybe a vest underneath. Blazers will be a little looser so you can throw it over more types of garments like a sweater. And finally, sport coats will be the roomiest, providing more freedom of movement since it has the word “sport” in the title, a.k.a shooting.
Suits and blazers tend to be made of fine wool or wool blend. They will have a more luxurious drape and softer feel as to exude a sense of wealth or formality. Sport coats tend to be made out of tweeds, flannel or cotton blends. Think of it this way, suit jackets are made to impress and pair with pants from the same fabric, Blazers are still made to impress but meant to be worn with pants of a different color and fabric, giving more freedom to the type and colors of fabric used in their construction, and sport coats are usually made with thicker fabrics to be more durable and more outdoorsy to protect the wearer from the elements and cooler temperatures.
Mini Dress Code Guide
Below we have a simple break down of 9 different dress codes and what type of jacket is appropriate for each.
Black Tie- Tux or Black Suit
Formal - Suit
Semi-Formal - Suit/ Blazer
Business Formal- Suit
Business Casual- Blazer
Garden Party- Blazer/ Sport Coat
Smart Casual- Inside Event: Blazer, Outside Event: Sport Coat
Dressy Casual- Sport Coat
Here are examples of each should you choose to cop something for your closet.