What is a Sports Coat, Exactly?

The Hong Kong tailor came by last week. He visits a couple of times a year. You look through his style book, pick a fabric and he mails you the finished stuff. He has a good reputation.

The danger when buying custom-make clothes is being unconventional. In men’s clothing especially, it is critical to be conventional. (Wanna make something of it?)

So I need a sports coat. But how does a sports coat differ from the jacket of a suit? I suppose we need blue (or perhaps black?) with gold or brass buttons. What about vents? American style double vents? Buttons on the sleeve? Is cotton OK? Wool is rather out of the question here of course.

Your thoughts?

The “sports coat” or “jacket”-if you like-was a creation of Edwardian English tailors. It was worn by “gentlemen” riding to the hounds (on a fox hunt). As opposed to a formal suit jacket, the “sports” version could be tweed or other patterned material. A single vent at the back enabled the jacket to drape over the horse. And you would have two pockets on the left side (the smaller one for theatre tickets).
Of course, a gentelan of that era had a huge wardrobe-typically with 10-15 sports costs to choose from (depending upon the ocassion).

They have a standard selection here . Perhaps silk or linen would work out better than wool in your location. If you are short, go with the two button style. Three button styles on short people make them look even shorter.

Linen wrinkles, doesn’t it?

So does my wool sportcoat when I pack it in my garmet bag for an overseas flight. Luckily I have yet to stay in a hotel that did not have an iron in the room with a wrinkle removing steam option yet. :slight_smile:

I think the key to a sports coat is that it should give the impression of being a stand-alone item. It gives me pause when my eye is caught by the the sight of a jacket that for some difficult-to-define reason looks like it should be worn with a matching pair of pants.

So far as conventionality goes, it seems to me the most conventional sports coats are woollen/tweedy type things.

I just went shopping at Jos. A. Bank during their big sale this weekend.

I wound up getting a “suit separate” jacket rather than a sport coat.

The difference? According to the “clothing manager” (which is what his card read) the only difference is that suit coats have plastic buttons (or whatever they’re made of nowadays, with the four holes for thread) while sport coats have metal buttons (with the hole attached to the back out of sight). And the tailor there would replace the buttons as part of the standard alterations.

He tried to get me to buy the standard issue shiny blue blazer. I wanted, instead, a charcoal gray matte-like fabric because that simply looks better on me. Just as versatile as well. Bought navy and light gray pants to pair it with.

So there’s actually a fair range of “conventional.” And “conventional” changes greatly depending on where you live, and what industry you’re in, and how old you are, and how much money everybody around you is spending.

The tailor will make suggestions if asked. This can either work terrifically well or be a disaster. And there’s no way to know ahead of time. :slight_smile:

Get what looks best on you that will still look good if you have to wear it a lot, to a number of occasions, with a variety of outfits. If you need to blend in, look at what the people around you are wearing. Blend in with them, not with us over here.

If I were you, I’d splurge and get a couple.

If you get only one, get a blazer. Navy blue, of course. No item in your wardrobe will go with as many other things - it can be worn with sport shirts, dress shirts or fine tees, wool, linen, khaki trousers or even jeans, and looks great with or without a tie.

The second jacket should be a tweed hacking jacket, double vented, in keeping with your host country’s strong riding traditions.

My linen shirt gets all wrinkled just by taking it off the hanger. I don’t know why anything’s made of linen.

I’ve never actually owned anything of linen, so don’t think I am actually recommending one. I just know they exist. My wool coat is actually very thin and not too uncomfortable on a hot day. Most business is usally conducted in air conditioned surroundings anyway. YMMV, espicailly where you are at. :smiley:

But dont forget the power tie. It’s the most important part of the “look” of being a businessman. :wink:

I agree with Si Amigo – consider silk. It won’t look sissified or shiny or whatever you’d think – it’s a handsome fabric with a nice finish to it.

Also consider cotton with a touch of Lycra to help with shapekeeping, colorfastness and wrinkle resistance. Your tailor should have some choices.

You could get silk, but I think they look less than er, suitable outside of a country or yachting club and your classic navy coat with brass buttons is rather dated. For instance, my husband would never wear one but his father would, and I wouldn’t think poorly of him for wearing it, he’s just a man in his 60s.

It’s all about the image you want to project, correct? If you are interested in custom suiting, you clearly want it to look like it was made for you and you want it to look current and expensive. I suggest you spend some time online looking at sportcoats on sites like Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Sak’s to get some idea of what is appealing to you.

Generally single vent (American) vs. double vent (more traditionally European) is a matter of personal style and the size of your ass. Make sure the buttons on the sleeve actually, you know, button and aren’t just for show. If your tailor does custom shirts, order a few of those too, with cuffs (no monogramming please).

Not a suit salesperson, just an annoyed bystander to my husband being an obsessive clotheshorse.

Is it still true that a suit coat will have 4 buttons at the cuff where a sport coat will have 3?

Is it just me, or are all of you like girls in here?

Here’s the smiley, please don’t ban me :slight_smile:

Still, sounds all girlish.

Thank you all for your comments. I am not going for the power suit, as I prefer a more informal look. I suspect one black and one blue silk, brass-buttoned sports coat the next time the tailor comes by.

For all practical purposes, sportcoats, blazers and “suit separate” jacket :rolleyes: are all the same thing- a sightly more casual jacket worn with non-matching slacks. Suits tend to be a tiny bit more dressy and of course come with matching slacks.

Just about anywhere you can wear a suit, you can wear a sportcoat- with dress shirt, tie and dress slacks. For less formal, you’d wear it with chinos, dressy/casual shirt and no tie. The blazer can be worn with white pants and deck shoes, especially for anything near the ocean.

IMHO most men should own one good suit (charcoal, navy or black), one good blazer (navy blue, gold metal buttons, Tropical weight wool) and one Harris Tweed sportcoat in a greyish tweed. A good Tweed sport coat has buttons made of leather or bone, so the “clothing manager” can go get stuffed. :stuck_out_tongue: If you like the “professor look” you can get your Tweed sport coat with leather patches on the elbows. You can get through nearly any situation with those three items. It is amazing how shirt and Dockers turns into something rather dressy if you just throw on your sportcoat or blazer. Harris Tweed and Navy Tropical blazers are timeless.

Linen wrinkles like mad, skip it. Silk is OK, but get a wool one first- the lightest weight wools are just as cool as silk. Skip Polyester- the one exception being one of those travel blazers with a zillion pockets you carry when on a long trip. Good wool will dewrinkle itself if just hung up in the bathroom.

Do not cheap out on quality. Cheap polyester blazers scream “security”, cheap sportcoats say “used car salesman” and we don’t want to go down “cheap suit” road.

Buy them all a little loose around the middle. If you wear a 40, get a 42, as long as the sleeves are good. Quality garments like this last a lifetime, so you don’t want to grow out of them in a few years.

This is a common misconception; even the writers at GQ confuse blazers with sportcoats. Blazers are a subset of sportcoat. Sportcoats are a subset of standalone jackets.

Heavy, winter-weight wool can’t be a sportcoat. Sportcoats are light, summer-weight. (If it’s cold out, weat a sweater under and an overcoat over.) Sportcoats can be plaid or striped or any wacky pattern you want; blazers are, by definition, sportcoats of a solid color, and with metal buttons. Or, if you prefer, the cross-section of a deer antler. But not plastic.

My Johnston & Murphy catalogue features a beige linen “blazer” with huge plastic buttons. I’d send them another angry letter, were it not for that damned restraining order. So I just bought a pair of bucks and kept my counsel.

If the tailor is from Hong Kong then he’ll be used to British styles.

I would describe a sports coat as a tweed jacket
A plain dark blue jacket with gold buttons would be a blazer

  • although blazers can come in all sorts of ‘sporting’ varieties, but you only wear those if you are entitled to - and are attending a relevant event.
  • never have a badge on the breast pocket

The problem with light coloured jackets is that they show when you sweat, worth considering.

I would avoid any synthetics and if possible get a really good silk lining.

I’ve a number of tweed jackets, all British made (I am British) - all but one are unmistakeably British - but one of them is extraordinary, in Italy it is taken as Italian, in France as French, in Israel as Israeli and in Spain as Spanish - my lass chose it. I call it my ‘user friendly’ jacket.

Incidentally light weight wool is just fine. I would always go for double vents, they work better when you are sitting down - also avoid excessive outside pockets, one breast and two side pockets - any more is the mark of a cad.

In answer to your question a British sports jacket is a woolen tweed of any weight with a pattern that would be highly inappropriate in a full suit. It is worn with plain trousers.

I would describe a hacking jacket as a variation of a sports jacket, but more tightly fitted, off a horse it is a bit poseurish.

I would go for a fairly lightweight wool with a really good lining and absolutely no synthetics - also it should not be too close a fit - they are seldom buttoned up. Two buttons on the front and three on the sleeves.

Brit here. Building on what FRDE said, I wore a sports (ie. tweed) jacket every day to work. It’s more casual than a suit, but more formal than casual-wear. They’re single-breasted and have two horn buttons on the front. You can get them in a variety of weights. A good jacket will have several inner pockets too. Two inner breast pockets and two inner small pockets at waist level. It also meant that I could mix and match trousers and not have the expense of buying more trousers for my suit. But I wouldn’t want to wear one in Saudi - too hot.

A blazer is typically a blue jacket with metal - brass or gold - buttons on the front.