Every man has a moment in his life that calls for a sports jacket. Whether you’re meeting the potential in-laws for the first (and hopefully not last) time, or just hitting the tiles with the boys, it’s likely you’ve given some thought to investing in something a shade or ten snazzier than your favourite high-school varsity jacket.
Sports jackets allegedly originated as proto-activewear in the British Isles, because aristocratic gents took looking debonair very seriously – even as they were chasing foxes, blasting clay pigeons out of the sky, or engaging in the polo battle of the century. They eventually morphed into jackets that were designed to be worn with unmatched trousers during after-hours social occasions. As time passed, they lost the sporting connotations, although the name remained.
Suits vs Blazers
Sports jackets and suits aren’t quite the same, which you know already right? As a rule, they lack the internal canvassing and structured line that give suits a formal, business-first edge (although exceptions exist). This allows them to be worn in smart-casual situations that ask for a bit of formality, but not enough to dust off the corporate two-piece. Sports jackets can be made in textured weaves, to distinguish them from suit jackets and give the impression they’re not designed with matching trousers in mind. Traditionally, they’re more of a sartorial playground than suits – the sky is the limit in terms of colour, pattern, and detail.
If the old faithful navy blue blazer that you got on sale five years ago is looking a bit tragic, now is an optimal moment to re-energise your wardrobe with a tailored sports jacket that’ll see you through everything from a casual afternoon, to the yacht party of the millennium.
Not just a tobacco powerhouse, Alfred Dunhill encapsulates British masculine style that pays homage to tradition with an eye on the contemporary menswear landscape. This silk-linen blend gives you style options for a sweltering day. Dunhill finished this number with a luxurious texture that will look at home at the races, office Christmas bash, or wine tour engagement party that you’ve been desperately avoiding. It also has rakish peaked lapels and a firm shoulder line for a more upright, formal touch. Wear with French navy pants, loafers, and an open neck pale blue shirt for dashing summer style. Dunhill are an investment brand, so factor their steep price point into your decision to purchase.
If there was ever a statement blazer that stood above the rest, we can guarantee that Etro got there first. Etro have designed a mid-blue sports jacket with a white diamond print that will unseat the stale navy hand-me-down you’ve been wearing beyond good sense. It’s equipped with eccentric details you won’t find in any old navy blazer – the tiger vs. snake lining is bound to be a reliable conversation starter even with a tough audience. Etro summer blazers are cotton jacquard, so this is suitable for sweltering scorchers with a demanding dress code on the invitation. That being said, this is not an every-other-weekend jacket. You should save this for special occasions, sartorial emergencies, or nights where you’re obligated to out dress your peers. Wear it once every now and then, to preserve the impact of its eccentric pattern and colour palette. Stick to a subtle contrast with cream or tan pants and a solid colour shirt. Leave the tie in the drawer, and chuck in a plain pocket square to match the shirt.
Paul Smith has a keen eye for curating the finest elements of Saville Row tailoring and modernising them with unusual, cheeky details. This slim-fit wool/cashmere jacket is unlined, providing less structure for the anti-formalists in the market. The understated camel tone is suitable for colour-shy blokes who haven’t mastered bold tonal marriages just yet. Neutrals like tan are a sartorial canvas, so you’ll be able to accompany this jacket with no-brainer choices like grey, and most blues. Wool and cashmere are a hard combination to beat – wool promises all-round versatility in construction and ventilation, while cashmere adds a soft, luxurious texture. This would look best on the upper end of the smart-casual spectrum. Wear it with smart navy trousers with raised fronts and no belt loops, along with a pale blue shirt and navy knitted tie. Loafers can dress things down a touch, or just wear classic oxford wingtips for all-round sartorial domination.
Although Beams Plus might be a brand celebrated for their indestructible workwear, they’re no slouch in the tailoring arena. The timeless French navy sports jacket is the one and only choice for guys who need just one blazer. Unlike most jackets on the rack, Beams have employed the famously invincible nylon CORDURA fabric over traditional plain wool shells. Popular for utilitarian functions in the military and performance apparel market, CORDURA jacket shells ensure you’ll be purchasing a jacket that’ll have some serious staying power as part of a regular wardrobe rotation. This pays homage to preppy tailoring with summer-friendly construction methods, opting for a wool-blend combo that is thick enough for autumn but won’t see you sweating buckets on a warm day. You can wear this with shorts and a tee in summer, if you finally score an invite to a yacht party, or with smart grey trousers and a contrast button-down for less exclusive outings that still demand your fullest sartorial effort.
Giorgio Armani is a luminary of the tailoring hall of fame and one of the fastest growing fashion houses on the market. Armani eschews conspicuous patterns and peacocking colours, preferring to let his fabric selection and understated design speak for itself. This double-breasted cotton-linen jacket is a competitive alternative to the traditional single breasted blazer that you probably have already. Included are subtle distinctions that reflect superior tailoring, such as functioning sleeve button cuffs. This jacket will happily accommodate the leaner gent, as the designers have opted for a slim silhouette to emphasise broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Wear this with a striped tee and white pants for a nautical-inspired summer combination, or olive chinos and a prince of wales shirt for a smart after-dark look.
Richard James is favoured on Savile Row as the young man’s clothier– he prefers contemporary slim cuts, bold colour choices, and daring details that distinguish his work from the venerable traditions of the Row. This wool-linen hopsack blazer reflects his youthful interpretation of British tailoring heritage. In a linen-wool blend, this jacket is superbly ventilated, and less prone to wrinkling than pure linen garments. Its interlining is fully canvassed, adding structure and ensuring the cut of the jacket follows the shape of your body as you wear it. The Richard James house cut is slim, but less structured than an ‘ordinary’ Row jacket (if such a beast exists), so don’t assume this jacket will leave you struggling in the last century. It works when you want to dress things up a few degrees, without looking like you’re kitting up for an afternoon at your old man’s country club.
This jacket is made from Super 120S flannel, which will stand up to a bit of punishment, but isn’t so much of a winter fabric that it’ll collect dust in your wardrobe for half the year. It’s unlined structure also means you’re safe on a hotter day. In a neutral and quietly confident mid-grey, this can assume the background to brighter accompanying colours, or be worn with a muted, subtle combination of navy or black. The stately peaked lapels and double breasted closure add a bit of old world sartorialism, without risking unflattering comparisons to your grandfather’s wardrobe. This can be worn with a blue shirt and navy tie those end of year dressy dos, or a polo and contrast chinos for a night on the tiles.
RELATED: How To Wear Blazers With Jeans
Alexander McQueen is about a strong first impression. This time, they have exchanged their trademark menace for an adventurous cobalt-blue tone with not a hint of skull embroidery in sight. This sports jacket is a definite summer rockstar choice. AQ tailoring doesn’t cut corners, using 100% wool with precise Italian handiwork, and full viscose lining for additional structure. If the colour isn’t enough of a draw, the single-button closure adds a point of difference from other sports jackets. The AQ house cut is definitely geared towards power tailoring, with a broad shoulder line and razor sharp peaked lapels that strengthens the upper body silhouette. If you’re feeling bold, wear this with white chinos, a salmon or pale pink shirt, and loafers. Just don’t wear it every Friday night, because there is an attention-seeking statement blazer guy out there – but it isn’t you.
Barena’s simple ethos relies on classic deconstructed Italian tailoring and the occasional hint of oddball design. This deconstructed cotton-blend blazer is a perfect opportunity for blokes who want a jacket with a point of difference. The quirky patchwork texture promises that you will make a memorable entrance, but the muted colour palette won’t leave you out on a limb trying to co-ordinate the jacket with shirts and pants you own already. Completely unstructured in a cotton blend, this jacket is built for supreme comfort in high-Celsius environments. The single vent promises a slim silhouette, while the jacket drop is tailored on the leaner side, so you won’t need too many adjustments at the tailor. It has minimal padding and no lining, so this is perfect for guys who don’t want a traditionally structured, rigid jacket. On the style front, let the jacket’s bold pattern work the room, and wear an understated white shirt and navy chino combo to finish the look.
Originally a cloth store in Naples, Isaia is a regular feature on the Italian luxury tailoring circuit, renowned for its distinctive red coral logo. This wool-silk-linen checked statement jacket is made from the holy trinity of tailoring fabrics, using wool, silk, and linen to achieve a breathable, eminently versatile jacket that will be your first choice for warmer nights. Wool, silk, and linen jackets are exploding in popularity as they largely eliminate the detriments of each fabric on its own – creasing with linin, fragility with silk – while combining their plentiful advantages to create a comfortable, all-season garment. This jacket also has double vents for extra range of movement. Isaia jackets are on the narrow end, so if you’ve been putting in hours at the gym or are naturally top-heavy, go a size up and get your tailor to tuck in the side seams. This is a statement piece, so don’t get too excited with additional patterns or peacock with six different shades of pink. Wear this with a plain jane ensemble, it’ll keep the focus where it should be. Navy chinos and a white shirt should do the trick.