“An alligator is not a crocodile and a suit coat is not a sport jacket.” – Steven Giles
Sport coats and suit coats are not the same.
Sport jackets are exactly what they sound like–jackets for sport. A less-formal coat, usually styled of bolder details, patterns and colors, made with a sturdier fabric and looser fit, it was originally designed as a garment for gentlemen who hunted in the morning.
The Sport Jacket today while only loosely retaining its heritage, nevertheless is a less formal statement and does not stand in place of a suit. However, today’s jacket may have elevated its importance as both a refining and distinguishing fashion in an otherwise dressed down culture.
Sport coats are meant to be worn with unmatched trousers or, with many soft constructions, jeans. Contrast that with a suit coat, which is a paired jacket with matching pants of the same materials and cut to be more form-fitting.
“A suit coat should not double as a sport jacket. It’s a stylistic mistake,” Giles says. “Plenty of pieces can be used in an array of outfits, but this isn’t one.”
Look for a jacket with heavier wool yarns and room enough to accommodate a sweater underneath in winter, but not so much as to hang off the body. For summer, much lighter weights, choosing linens, silks, cottons or any of these summer fabrics blended with tropical wools. As with almost all other garments, Giles says, a good fit, followed by skilled tailoring, makes all the difference.