Blazer v. Suit Jacket v. Sports Coat

Today,  little distinction remains between blazers, suit jackets, and sports coats. Nuances still exist between jacket types, but chances are that coworker calling you out for wearing a suit jacket with your trousers is just being a jerk.


Blazers are versatile, if somewhat informal. Suit jackets are often glossier, and sports jackets come in bolder colors and designs--the 19th century equivalent of the hunting vest. Unless you are a sailor for halloween, hunting for quail, or an extra on Mad Men, you do not need to stress out about which jacket is which. Just know enough not to wear a hunting jacket to your friend’s funeral or a business suit to a picnic. Here is how and why:

The Blazer:

  1. Traditional blazers are a solid color, usually navy.
  2. They used to have golden buttons, but those are rare these days.
  3. First developed in the 1800’s for the British Royal Navy.
  4. Wear with nice shoes, but not necessarily formal footwear.

The Suit Jacket:

  1. Paired with matching pants, not similar pants.
  2. Generally a tighter fit and higher quality material, because they not for layering sweaters underneath.
  3. Wear with formal shoes.

The Sports Coat:

  1. Yes, people once played sports in jackets. These fit looser, for increased flexibility.
  2. Comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and designs. Nobody actually needs padded elbows; I do not care how much you write, but sometimes the patches do feel nice.
  3. Less structured than other jackets. Looks great over a sweater.
  4. Originally sports coats were a sign of opulence, as not everybody could afford one on top of their regular jackets. They still are, as most Americans who do not frequent Yacht or golf clubs would be hard pressed to find a use for their sports coats.

Keep in mind that you should avoid wearing your nicer suit jacket separately from its pants parts separately often, so they can wear evenly.

The difference between blazers, sports coats, and suit jackets has blurred, but you should still be able tell the difference. Wearing the right type of blazer shows respect as well as class.

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