Sports Jacket vs Blazer vs Suit Jacket

Posted by Rishi Chullani on

Sports Jacket vs Blazer vs Suit Jacket? The eternal conundrum that has plagued dapper gentlemen for millennia.

What seems to confound men even more often are the differences between a sports jacket and a blazer. While these jackets are different in many ways, there are some noteworthy differentiating characteristics that set them apart. Knowing the difference between these two can save you the embarrassment of a wardrobe mishap.

After reading this guide, hopefully you will avoid the mistake of pulling off a business casual look at a formal event! We will discuss the difference between these three codes / types of attire, and when each one is most appropriate.

Sports Jacket

The sports jacket is your least structured, more casual outer piece. In the past, sports jackets were actually worn for functional purposes – for horseback riding! Sports Jackets were often worn in the mornings, especially if the season or occasion didn’t necessitate the wearing of a suit. They were also considered a luxury item, as most gentleman could only afford a traditional suit without many alternatives. Sports Jackets can be broadly divided into two types of jackets: Conservative and Fashionable.

Conservative Sports Jacket

A conservative sports jacket can become your everyday jacket. Since fashion is not as constrictive as it once was, the modern man has significantly more flexibility when choosing their sports jacket. The conservative jacket focuses on adding another element to your ensemble, without being your statement piece. The conservative sports jacket can be worn at any time. Utilize it in a more fashionable setting at a wedding, or dress it more formally at the office. The conservative sports jacket is extremely versatile.

Blue windowpane blazer

A blue windowpane blazer with a striped tie provides for an exquisite look! Courtesy of 

An aspiring dapper gentleman’s wardrobe should contain a conservative sports jacket in at least one of three colors: grey, blue or brown. The important element of these jackets is to have some pattern and color, without it being bold or restrictive.

The pattern that is currently in vogue is the windowpane check. Easy examples of conservative jackets in your wardrobe would include blue windowpane check, grey plaid or brown plaid.

Fashionable Sports Jacket 

The Fashionable Sports Jacket is where you have the freedom to fully express yourself. Because this type of sports jacket is worn less, feel free to go with a higher quality wool. Since these jackets won’t see the same wear and tear, it is best to go with a higher quality, finer grade of wool.

When visiting your local bespoke tailor, opt for peak lapels or colored button holes to add further flair! This is the jacket for weddings, social events and Christmas parties – so let it stand out!

Sports Jacket

A fashionable sports jacket with detailed finishing can be the envy of every gentleman!

Bespoke Jackets | Custom Jackets | Made To Measure Jackets 

Key Characteristics of a Sports Jacket

  • Offered in a wide variety of colors and patterns
  • Are less structured and fitted than a blazer or a suit jacket, allowing for wider range of movement, as well as the ability to layer clothing!
  • Sometimes (though not always) feature elbow patches, slits, ticket pockets.

Sports Jacket Fit

Given that a sports jacket is the most casual of the three items (vs a blazer or suit), the fit is usually the most relaxed. Hence, your final cut should allow for movement and range of motion – in line with the original purpose of a sports jacket – to be worn with equestrian activity!

Styling  A Sports Jacket

Given that this is the least formal of the three jacket variations, this can be worn to dress up any pair of pants that are not of the same fabric and color as the jacket! Whether you are looking to dress up a pair of dark denim jeans or your chinos for a dinner date or your off color dress pants for a networking event or cocktail party, a sports jacket will always work. Given that your sports jacket is typically your least fitted option, these jackets can pair extremely well with a sweater or turtleneck.

A sports jacket can be accessorized with a silk tie and / or pocket square for a dapper look! However, due to its casual nature, it is best suited (no pun intended) with a knit tie. Knitted ties feature an open weave and rectangular, square bottom that make them ideal for business casual purposes!

Knit Ties | Silk Knit Ties | Knitted Ties

Please feel free to watch The Dark Knot's range of Knit Ties

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of Pocket Squares

Sports Jacket Knit Tie

A sports jacket with a knitted tie provides for the perfect business casual look Courtesy of

Key Fabrics
  • Flannel
  • Herringbone
  • Houndstooth
  • Tweed
  • Wool

Pocket Squares | Silk Pocket Squares | Linen Pocket Squares


The Blazer can be worn across the spectrum of formal settings, barring full formal. The blazer is a middle ground piece that elevates ensembles without going overboard.

So, what are the key differences between a blazer and a sports jacket?

  • A Blazer does not have a pattern to it. Texture within the weave of the fabric is suitable, but there should not be a definitive pattern.
  • Blazers have metal buttons, which distinguish it from a sports jacket and demonstrate that you are not wearing a suit jacket with off colored pants.
  • Blazers have less structure to them than suits. However, they are not as soft shouldered / unstructured as a sports jacket.

The Navy Blazer should be a core piece in your wardrobe, and can be paired with a variety of pants including grey, blue and brown.

Navy Blazers

Your Navy Blazer can be your ‘go to’ item when you are required to dress well, without having to dress formal! Courtesy of

When you are required to dress up but a suit is considered too formal, your core piece, or navy blazer, is a safe bet that will pair with virtually any of your pants. Therefore, a plain colored blazer is ideal and will allow for a professional look.

Blazer Fit

Blazers have a looser fit compared to suit jackets, and are also typically not as structured in the shoulder region.

Styling A Blazer

Your blazers can be used to dress up any of your dark denim jeans, chinos or khakis! Given that blazers are a notch down from suits, they can also be used in more formal settings, with flannel trousers or tailored pants. Blazers typically look best with a standard, button up shirt and tie. Given how versatile a blazer is and the range of trouser options they can be worn with, you can choose your pair of shoes accordingly. Flannel trousers will work best with a monk strap or pair of oxfords, while dark denim or chinos will pair perfectly with loafers or other types of dressy casual shoes!         

The Navy Blazer is often worn in a business setting, as it is a step down from a suit but a notch up from dressing with a sports jacket. A blazer can be accessorized with a tie and pocket square, and will look particularly impressive with a solid or regimental striped tie. Alternatively, you can go with a solid or foulard silk tie, or even a knitted tie (ideal for settings that are less than formal – given knitted weave and square bottom finishing).

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of Solid Silk Ties

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of Pocket Squares

Sports Jacket vs Blazer vs Suit Jacket

Courtesy of 

Key Blazer Fabrics

  • Cashmere
  • Flannel
  • Worsted Wool

Suit Jacket

The suit, which has pervaded western men’s formal attire for as long as we can remember, consists of a suit jacket and matching trousers. The suit jacket and trousers will always be made from the same fabric. The suits that we know and associate with business wear today have origins in the 18th and 19th centuries, during which morning suits (suits with tailcoats that featured a split to allow for equestrian activity) were brought into European Fashion.

Suit Jacket

Courtesy of

Due to the importance of a suit jacket and trouser matching up, it is not recommended for one to wear the suit jacket as a sports jacket or blazer, as this may result in the suit jacket being washed more than your trousers. This can ultimately lead to a difference in color, making them appear mismatched.

While some suits (and hence suit jackets) come in stripes and checks, it is best to avoid these busier patterns initially. Better options would include solid colored suits such as navy, lighter grey, charcoal grey or black suits for black tie events.

Key Characteristics Of A Suit

  • Come with a matching pair of trousers (and sometimes a vest) that is made of the same weave and fabric.
  • The most minimal of the three jackets with respect to pattern and color. Hence, suits typically come in more neutral colors and simpler patterns.
  • Typically come with notched lapels (though peak lapels are used sometimes to accentuate a more athletic build – so it depends on your body type!)
  • Suits are the most formal of the three pieces listed here, and hence the most fitted. Suits should therefore not be layered.

Styling Tips For A Suit

A suit is best styled with a dress shirt and thin sweater vest at the most. Thicker garments such as a cardigan will definitely not complement a suit. Suits are best accessorized with a tie, pocket square or lapel flower (or a combination of the above three!).

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of Silk Ties

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of Pocket Squares

Sports Jacket vs Blazer vs Suit Jacket

Courtesy of Geek & Gentleman

Regarding shoes, suits are best worn with formal shoes such as Oxford Cap Toes.

Suit Fabrics

  • Worsted Wool
  • Linen
  • Seersucker
  • Cotton

We hope that this guide has helped provide some clarity. While these pieces can be worn interchangeably, it is important to note the main differences. If you are dressing for a business casual setting, a sports jacket or blazer will work best. Looking to attend a wedding reception with a formal dress code, a black tie event, an interview or a presentation – definitely bring on that suit! While a blazer can be your go to option for dress codes other than formal, a sports jacket can quickly become an every day or week garment that helps to dress up a pair of dark denim jeans, chinos or khakis, all while helping you remain dapper and looking stylistic!

And that’s a wrap for this one. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we did writing it!

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