It’s just not fair. A guy in a well tailored sportcoat or blazer has an unfair advantage vs. the rest of the room. A jacket cleans up your lines. It makes you look stronger and smarter. And fall is the prime season for sportcoats. Wear em’ with jeans, cords, etc… With a balance of quality & affordability in mind, here’s this season’s best. Note: All in-person shots show the blazer or sportcoat in question straight off the rack. No tailoring (yet). Wanted to give you guys an accurate feel for how each jacket would look pre-tailoring. Also, for a fit perspective, here are the measurements of the wearer.
Almost completely unlined. Just the sleeves are lined. And it’d be in contention for the best of the season… if it weren’t for the darn functioning sleeve buttons. Arms run a touch long, and will cost a chunk to get shortened thanks to those functioning sleeve buttons. But the fabric is outstanding. Very felt-like, and that fabric pairs well with the lack of construction. Super comfortable. Slimmer than their “tailored” fit. Size shown above is a 40R. Might be tough to get on sale since it’s from their “heritage” line, and those items are more often than not excluded from codes.
Beyond pleased with this one. Probably best in show. Think of a tweed sportcoat and you’re almost certainly going to picture one in an earth tone like brown or green. Not the case here. Has the texture of tweed, but instead comes in a shade of blue. 70% wool, 30% nylon, and a 100% acetate lining. Very impressed with the feel of the fabric. It’s substantial, but not stiff or cumbersome. Drapes nicely and moves well. Non functioning sleeve buttons and a bit of a taper at the waist. Elbow patches as well. Sized in more exact chest sizes, instead of the ballpark S/M/L/etc. Size shown above is a 40R. Can be had for under $100 with codes.
What the hell UNIQLO? They made a change this year, and now the damn sleeve buttons are functional. BUT… the good news is that if you’ve got average to short arms, the sleeves run so friggin’ long that you should be able to have the whole end chopped off, and then maybe sew the buttons directly to the jacket after. Size shown is a Large. Wool / Other blend percentages depend on the pattern you pick. Shown above is the “wine” plaid. Totally unlined back. Button stance is noticeably higher than, say, a J. Crew Ludlow. But the price is right, and often with tailoring, a UNIQLO jacket can be dialed in.
Partially unconstructed, and you notice as soon as you slip it on. Lighter and easier to move in, yet not flimsy or odd draping. Half lined. Ludlow Fit. Fabric blend is a 55% Wool / 45% Cotton mix that’s nubby enough to feel like an all wool tweed. Patch pockets, and also available in a highly tempting navy. Size shown is a 40R. Most will want the sleeves to be shortened, but that’s easy to do thanks to their non functioning sleeve buttons.
A bit spendy, but the “soft tweed” is that nice. Has some good texture, but it’s not rough or rigid. Far from it. Super easy to move in and soft to the touch. Just half lined. Does have functional sleeve buttons though. Cut in Suitsupply’s more relaxed “Havana” fit. Size shown on the left is a 38R (not a 40r) on 5’10” / 185lbs. Shipping & returns are free for US customers.
More of a classic fit so plenty are going to need some extra tailoring, but the merino wool shell really is pretty nice. Lots of different colors and patterns to pick from too. Lightweight and feels good in your hands. Full poly lining of course, since it’s JC Penney, but not bad for around $80 – $100 with sales and codes. Sleeve buttons are non-functioning, but there is some accent stitching around them. Nothing overly heavy, but still might cause some problems. Made in Vietnam. Size shown above is a 40R. Usually “on sale” for $99, and then codes can knock an extra 15% – 20% off on top of that. (For example, today’s code PUPPY takes 15% off orders under $100. Tip that threshold and it jumps to 20% off, so, might wanna grab some cheap socks.)
It’s a looker for sure. Lands’ End seems like they’re trying to make a comeback in terms of being a bit more stylish, and this is one of their new arrivals for the fall. Shell is 86% wool, 10% nylon, and 4% rayon. Not overly heavy, but still unmistakably fall or winter appropriate. The description says it has a full “Aerocool” lining. It’s 100% poly, and doesn’t feel all that special? Can’t really tell. Size shown is a 40R. Buttons are non-functioning, but there is a bit of accent stitching around them. Seems like you’ve got about an inch to work with though. Been going on sale for 30% off with some regularity. *And it is going for 30% off today. Code is THRILLED and pin is 5800 which is good for 20% off $100+. and 30% off $150+
A new arrival, so haven’t seen it in person yet, but it seems to have some pretty good potential (plus the free shipping & returns = risk free). They call it a “regular” fit, but boy it sure looks pretty tailored in the online pics. Doesn’t mean they haven’t pinned it back for photo shoot purposes, but still. Button stance appears to be a bit high, but that Jacquard texture to the cotton is appealing. Self-fabric, subtle elbow patches. Patch pockets. Might end up in the sale section at some point?
Pictured above is last year’s version, but this year’s looks virtually identical. No back lining, great versatile shade of grey, and a wale that’s not too wide. One difference this year is that they’re sized in exact chest sizes, instead of the ball park S/M/L sizing from 2014. So, that’s an improvement. Does go on sale with codes. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10” / 175. Full review of last year’s version here.
An annual favorite. Just arrived, and just marked down to half off (which is where most JCP items get to after their initial pricing.) Shell is nice and soft with the lining being acetate. It’s a classic fit, but if it’s the same as last year’s, it shouldn’t be enormously boxy. Also available in navy and charcoal. Sure looks like the arms run long if those pics from their website are any indication. Gonna need those sleeves shortened to show some shirtsleeve cuff. Extra 20% off with the code PUPPY is good through today, 10/5.
Yes, another friggin’ J. Crew option. But until the other brands figure out that functioning sleeve buttons are a pain, and/or a full poly lining isn’t desireable, and/or a super chopped tail looks goofy on many guys… then J. Crew, who does seem to get all that, will get more mentions than most. Back to this sportcoat… it’s very professorial. But not nerdy. Something that Dr. Indiana Jones might wear while teaching class. More subtle in person than what J. Crew’s images project. 75% wool and 25% nylon Italian cloth. Half lined. Crosby fit, so it’s cut for the guys who are carrying a bit more strength around than those who fit better in a Ludlow. Perfer the Ludlow cut? They’ve got the same fabric in a Ludlow cut too. Size shown here is a 40R.
The Cheap, but Chopped Duo: GAP Dobby or Cord Blazer – $89.95
They’re inexpensive, but man are they short in the tail. When they say “hits at hip” they mean it. Like, the top of your hip, and not much more below that. Always on sale. Currently sold out, but the full review of the dobby cotton option over here.
C. Tyrwhitt Tailored or Classic Fit Moleskin Jacket – $180 w/ 10OFFCT
Moleskin is velvet’s more subtle cousin. Matte instead of having a sheen, with a shorter nap. Warm and soft, and has an unmistakable visual texture to it. Unconstructed here, which many will find to be a plus. Corozo nut buttons. Sleeve buttons do function, so be aware of that going in. Dual vents in the back. Usually $200, but 10% off with the code 10OFFCT.
One of the few blazers that Bonobos actually offers in not just their slim, but also their standard cut. A bit pricey to start out. Might have to hold out for the rare sale code on this one. Offered in a few different shades. Ships & returns free. Big fan of the lighter-grey shade shown above.
Okay, so, half a grand is not what the vast majority of us would consider “affordable…” but there might be an opportunity coming up to get it for 30% – 40% off. For the last few years, in early December Brooks Brothers has done a week of one-day-deals to kickstart the late holiday shopping rush (here’s last year’s 40% off suits & tailored clothing day). And if they do that again, it’d drop this thing to just under $300. Still steep, but those peak lapels, the easy construction of a knit blazer, and that texture all make for an awfully tempting combo.
Hasn’t gone on sale yet, but boy… they’re something. The Italian milled, Super 130s wool is spectacular. Extremely soft and supple. Super easy to move around in thanks to its natural stretch. “Topstitching” along the lapels and collar keep it from looking too much like an orphaned suit jacket. Available in either the lean and mean Ludlow, or the more accommodating-for-thickerness (not a word) Crosby fit.
The Reminder: Check your local thrift stores
Want to source a fall or winter blazer on the cheap? Scout your local thrift stores. Some areas are better (like, much better) than others when it comes to thrifting, but finding a dozen or so tweed blazers ready for a cleaning & tailoring isn’t too uncommon.
Again, there’s a ton of J. Crew and J. Crew factory stuff on this list. But they seem to avoid the pitfalls that so many other brands/retailers (plenty of which didn’t even make this list, despite being scouted out) make with their sportcoats. This one gets it all right. The fabric is a nice and smooth, mid-weight chino. The off the rack cut is trim, but not bone crushing slim. The button stance isn’t too high. It’s half lined and decently breathable. And perhaps most importantly, the sleeves are easy to tailor. Wear it over an OCBD now. Wear it over a sweater when it gets cold. Wear it with a lightweight linen or chambray shirt in the spring & summer. Size shown above is a medium. Full review here.
And that’s just the first crop. There will certainly be more blazers & sportcoats worth a mention in the coming months, so watch for those in future posts & features. We miss something? Feel free to email in any further suggestions…