Sportcoats come from an era when men participated in outdoor sporting like hunting, fishing, and horseback riding. These coats were worn casually and their thickness was used for warmth.
The right sportcoat is the perfect mix of casual, formal, and a hint of ruggedness that will prove to be one of the most versatile items in your closet.
Most people use the terms blazer and sportcoat interchangeably but they are traditionally different. Sportcoats, while similar in fit, many years ago were typically made of thicker textured fabrics like tweed.
Blazers are traditionally more formal than sportcoats. All of this gets very hazy with the casual dress of today. The main difference is simple: Blazers are of a solid fabric in blue, black, green, camel, etc. while sportcoats have a pattern to them and are usually multi-colored, or at least 2 colors.
Many guys wear blazers to dress up whatever they’re wearing. I find the right sportcoat acts more like a chameleon: It makes whatever you’re wearing look better, without tipping you in a more dressy direction. A sportcoat looks great with a shirt and tie for business, but it also adds style to a casual shirt or sweater without making it look like you’re overdressed.
Sportcoats and blazers come many different colors and patterns. For your first, I’d recommend picking up a blazer in navy. Navy is a really versatile color that goes well with practically every other color and conforms with different shoe shades and the patterns of your ties or shirts. It’s very traditional-looking but extremely versatile.
The right sportcoat can be worn much like an jacket. Throw it over a button up shirt with jeans and you’ll look smart without being out of place. Wear it with chinos and some suede bucks and you’ll be dressed perfectly for that fancy dinner with your girlfriend, without looking like you're trying too hard.
To dress up a blazer or sportcoat, pair it with a shirt, tie, and dress pants. For a more casual look, go with a patterned shirt and khakis. For a very relaxed look, wear a patterned sport shirt with a lot of color under the blazer or sportcoat with jeans. The versatility of the sportcoat and blazer allows you to buy only one jacket for three very different looks for any occasion.