The sports jacket. Oh, that’s just a posh way of saying ‘blazer’ or ‘suit coat’, right?
Originally known as the ‘rich man’s coat’, the sports jacket was purchased by men who had excessive bank accounts in the Twenties, investing in the relaxed blazer – on top of their suit expenditure – so to stand out as style connoisseurs – be it, on the hunt or attending a sporting event.
Fast-track almost one hundred years, and the sports jacket still has its place in contemporary men’s wear. And one of the most unlikely yet brilliant pairings with the tailored coat? Denim. Let’s take a look at how to wear the common rugged jean with the historically pompous sports jacket. Because opposites attract.
Breaking It Down
Historically, the sports jacket has always been paired with a contrast trouser. Naturally, chinos or wool trousers come to mind. But with the denim renaissance of late, men are taking jeans with their tailored pieces too, and pairing the indigo-hued, cotton pants with the sophisticated sports coat.
The sports jacket, however, has undergone some changes since the era of the flapper, becoming far more streamline and unstructured – and for summer – for more lightweight; mixing up traditional fabrics and colours to reflect the climate.
The slim-cut jean is the in thing for men. Not too skinny, not too wide, this just-right jean is man’s best friend and pairs seamlessly with the sports jacket.
When shopping for a pair – or perusing the darker nooks of your closet – choose clean, mid-to-dark denim in a slim-fit silhouette or trouser-ish shape.
Snub heavily distressed denim or washed out, faded jeans, and say (absolutely) no to baggy, bootcut jeans. Light denim can work for day time or spring looks with pastels but if we’re being picky (which is always good) stick to dark blue. Just to be safe.
The sports jacket generally has a more soft-shouldered fit compared to a suit jacket separate or a more conventional blazer. Essentially, it’s designed for layers to be worn underneath in cooler months – think knit or roll neck and shirt – or slim and smoothly over an unbuttoned shirt or basic t-shirt.
In some instances, elbow patches on the arms may feature on the common sports jacket, as well as a slit and pleats in the back; functional attributes that helped last century men be more agile on the hunt. But these signatures are more decorative these days (although they do provide increased mobility for modern guys on the go).
Finally, the sports jacket is often made from sturdy materials steeped in English heritage (herringbone, hounds or dog tooth, flannel, and tweed). Since its debut, the Italians have lent themselves to more summer ready versions, made from linens and wool/cotton/silk blends – perfect for the Aussie climate too.
Whatever the fabric, the sports jacket is big on textural patterns (made from the weave of the yarn), letting the depth of the jacket speed louder than vibrant colours or boisterous prints.
How To Wear Them
The sports jacket is a great travel companion for the frequent flyer. With a plain black tee and luxury sneakers, a grey, tweedy sports jacket offers a sharp, monochrome look with a buttery, leather carryall (also in black) and aviator shades. Keep the tee untucked (even though you’re wearing jacket) and always leave the sports jacket unbuttoned.
Other times, the weekend traveller welcomes a micro-print button shirt, under a Seventies-brown woollen jacket. Keeping the denim super dark (and not distressed) gives the jean a chino look; letting the button-down sit in the nonchalant half-tuck, casually cool so to step into a night soiree once you’ve landed.
For a look to make Ralph Lauren gush, take a preppy woollen jacket in smokey brown and place it over an olive cashmere cardigan and paisley long tie. Raw denim emphasises clean lines in a slim-cut (like trousers), tapered in with a tan belt and matching document holder. The denim shirt complements the neutral colour palette and naturalness of the fabric.
For a modern professor look, a herringbone jacket in black-and-white weave lets the waist coat feature in navy corduroy; the melange of texture between the two ramped up even more by a tonal blue woven tie and mid-blue denim shirt. It’s a rustic take on the three-piece suit and – with addition of silk woven tie – is wildly sophisticated for the heritage gent.
Starting with a tweed sports jacket, layer a formal shirt (in a pastel hue like pink to match the brown) and tailored denim jeans in dark blue; ensuring the jacket top button is done-up for the look of a suit. A pocket square and chocolate monk shoes add fanciful formalities to the summer tailoring, before a garden party relaxedness sallies on in with the absence of socks and the quirkiness of a polka dot tie.
With heat’s peak, a light cotton sports jacket in taupe is a summer staple. A light blue button shirt (also cotton) is a sharp layer easy tucked into a chocolate belt – the graininess of the brown working well with the natural marks and lines of washed-up denim jeans.
A navy pocket square complements indigo’s hue, under metallic silver aviators.
A casual office environment is where the jean-and-sports-jacket affair truly heats up.
Summer looks like light-ish jeans and loafers (if your office permits) with a business blue shirt, under a navy cotton sports jacket and tastefully spotted long tie – sans weave.
For winter months, play around with a grey, flannel jacket and mid-blue jeans; keeping the shirting quasi-corporate with a cutaway collar and white cotton. Fire up the romance with studious, striped socks, brown leather shoes and spotted pocket square – showing colleagues your Friday fashion sense is just as creative as your boardroom ideas.