A guy in a well tailored sportcoat or blazer looks unfairly good. These jackets (along with suit jackets) are engineered to make us look stronger, leaner, and more confident. But all of those advantages can be nullified by wearing a jacket that’s either too casual or too dressed up for the occasion. This hierarchy, moving from most casual to most dressed up, is not absolute. There are always exceptions, and often, depending on what it’s worn with, one of these jackets could leapfrog another (or others) on this list. Individual suggestions for each type are added in case you want to dive in and get one for yourself.
Rumpled, Casual Cotton Sportcoat
- Bonobos Unconstructed Cotton Blazer – $105 w/ SUMMERHOLIDAY ($228)
- GAP Cotton Slub Blazer – $89.95 (and always on sale)
- Hugh & Crye Seneca Blazer – $165 ($195)
- J. Crew Ludlow Fit Blazer in Microgrid Cotton – $228
The most casual by far. These are the sportcoats that have minimal lining, super soft shoulders, and are almost always made from a cotton twill that actually looks better with a few wrinkles and rumples to it. These sportcoats look terrific with jeans and OCBDs, and can absolutely be worn with classic court style sneakers. Remember: Not all cotton sportcoats/blazers are this most-casual type. We’ll get to the smoother, more polished options farther down the list. Shown above: a Micro Houndstooth unconstructed sportcoat from J. Crew. Currently sold out.
Tweed/Textured Wool Sportcoat or Corduroy Sportcoat
- J. Crew Ludlow Fit Corduory Sportcoat – $198
- Suitsupply Havana Check Sportcoat – $499
- Brooks Brothers Italian Merino Wool Knit Blazer – $199.20 ($498)
- Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Wool Sportcoat – $348.60 ($498)
Originally worn during “sporting” activities like hunting, riding, and shooting (thus the “sport” in sportcoat), these jackets are sorta like brogues in the shoe world. Originally intended to be worn outdoors, with functionality a premium, they’re now super easy to dress up or down. These are almost always fall/winter appropriate, with textured fabrics like tweed or corduroy. Don’t worry… picks above don’t truly reflect the market. Much, much more affordable options will come available as we move closer to the fall. Shown above: A Suitsupply Havana Fit in soft tweed. Currently sold out, but expect it, or at least something highly similar, to return in the fall.
Unconstructed/Lightly Constructed Linen Sportcoat
- Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Linen Sportcoat – $224 ($448) (shown above)
- J. Crew Linen/Cotton Summerweight Ludlow Fit Sportcoat – $168
- J. Crew Factory Unconstructed Linen Sportcoat – $80ish – $100
- UNIQLO Linen Cotton Blazer – $59.90 ($79.90)
- Banana Republic Modern-Slim Houndstooth Linen Blazer – $230
Almost certainly a tie in terms of formality with the previously mentioned tweed/cord sportcoats. These are seasonal and look/feel great even in the hottest of temperatures. Look for options with as little lining as possible, since a full lining is awfully counter-productive when it comes to a highly breathable fabric like linen. Also like the tweed, these are easy to dress up, or down, and only end up on the more casual end of the scale due to the fabrics that are used to make them.
Polished Cotton Sportcoat
- Banana Republic Italian Made 74% Cotton, 24% Linen, 2% Spandex Blazer – $230 (shown above, sold out, but this is close.)
- JC Penney Stafford Signature Cotton Sportcoat – $62.50 w/ TOSHOP8 ($125)
- J. Crew Italian Cotton Sportcoat – $228
- JCF Thompson Fit Chino Blazer – $49.99 FINAL (all but sold out, review here)
A little more structure than the super-casual rumpled cotton options. These are the sportcoats and blazers that can be subbed in for a more traditional, dressy wool blazer in a pinch. Usually a smooth cotton fabric, but they can also have a little texture to them (like the BR option shown above). Just makes sure it’s more of a simple, clean texture, and less work-wear like (think tweed and corduroy).
Wool Hopsack or Wool/Silk/other blends Blazer
- Bonobos Unconstructed Italian Wool Sportcoat – $400 (shown above)
- Spier and Mackay Navy Hopsack in Contemporary or Slim Fit – $272.80 ($358 CAD)
- Lands’ End Wool Blend Regatta Blazer – $198
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Sportcoat – $399
- Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Wool Silk Plaid Sportcoat – $249 ($498)
Hopsack = a slightly looser weave that breathes extremely well. Has a bit of texture to it, but still is dressed up enough to wear with pressed cotton dress pants or wool trousers. A jacket without that hopsack texture can also fall into this category, as long as it’s not a super sleek wool in navy (we’re about to get there). Something with a pattern yet a smooth feel fits in here too. These jackets can also pull some duty with dark wash jeans.
Classic or Modern Navy Wool Blazer
- J. Crew Legacy Blazer in Ludlow or Crosby Fit – $154.99 FINAL (all but sold out, shown above)
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Blazer – $399
- Charles Tyrwhitt Wool Slim Fit Blazer – $259 ($300)
- Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Blazer – $274 ($548) (all but sold out)
- Bonobos “The Academy” Blazer – $398
Classic = brass or silver-tone metal buttons. The more modern interpretations skip the metal buttons but have other details like patch pockets or top-stitching that help it look less like an orphaned suit jacket. We’re pretty far up on the formality scale here, but even at this point, some of these blazers can be worn with jeans. Might wanna avoid the classic version + jeans combo though. Brass buttons and denim really seem to clash.
- Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Windowpane Dinner Jacket – $299 ($498) (shown above)
- J. Crew Ludlow Shawl Collar Dinner Jacket in Fiore Cotton – $208.60 w/ 48HOURS ($298)
- Suitsupply Blue Velvet Dinner Jacket – $399
- Suitsupply Cream Silk Dinner Jacket – $499
The type of jacket you wear to a black tie event that doesn’t match your tuxedo trousers. Plaids and patterns are “in” at the moment, but the risk is they look dated down the road. What won’t look dated? A cream colored dinner jacket. Worked for Rick in Casablanca. Will work for you too.
Other things that could sway how dressed up or dressed down a jacket can be: Are you wearing a tie? What color is the shirt? (White = more formal.) What type of shoes are you wearing? Are there patch pockets (more casual) or flap/welts on the jacket? All of those details can influence the level of formality of any given jacket. For example, a polished cotton jacket when worn with a knit tie and light grey chinos will look more dressed-up than a modern navy wool blazer with an open collared dress shirt and jeans.