There is a bit of debate on this topic. One rule that we here at 9tailors live by is that suit jackets are always worn with a matching pair of trousers. A sports coat has a larger more visible pattern that is typically more casual.
When should I wear a suit jacket?
If you work in a conservative environment or are attending a formal event a suit jacket is your go-to. The hard and fast rule is that it will always be worn with a matching pair of suit pants, however you can have a bit of fun when it comes to the pattern. Think herringbone or glen plaid for subtle patterns that won’t be too harsh on the eyes.
A common question we tend to get is “If I have a navy suit and a grey suit can I wear my grey jacket over my navy pants and vice versa?” Traditionally, this would be frowned upon. In a more modern world yes you can do this. However,we would not recommend you doing it all the time. The more you wear your jackets you’ll be laundering them more than your pants. In turn causing the color to fade. No one likes a faded suit coat… trust us!
If you’re starting from scratch with a custom suit we’d suggest starting with foundation colors. Navy blue, charcoal grey, light grey, tan and black are all colors that every guy should own. As far as design goes two buttons with a notched lapel are pretty standard. We’d suggest keeping your buttons the same color as your fabric and not adding too many bells and whistles. However, if you’re allowed to have a bit more fun at work pickstitching is one of our personal faves!
When should I wear a sports coat?
Sports coats are perfect for business casual settings. Houndstooth fabric and tweeds are both great for sports coat. As far as color is concerned anything goes! Sports coats come in a variety of colors from grey and blue to maroon and green. They definitely allow you to have a bit more fun when it comes to design. Think contrasting colored buttons, ticket pockets and stitching on your lapel and/or sleeve buttonholes. For a more formal look pair your sports coat with a complementary pair of suit pants. If you’re going with a solid color be sure to wear pants that aren’t too close in color.
Is it casual Friday at the office? Wear you sports coat with chinos, jeans or dress pants in a contrasting color. A darker sports coat pairs well with lighter wash jeans like in the photo below. If your sports coat is a lighter color, such as tan or light grey opt for a darker denim wash.
Sports coats are much more casual than a suit jacket. With that being said, we would not recommend wearing a sports coat when an event calls for the formality of a suit jacket. We also would recommend investing in a sports coat once you have a few of the basics covered.
In conclusion, both the suit jacket and the sports coat deserve a special place in a man’s wardrobe. If you’re conservative you may find more use in a suit jacket. If you’re the guy who doesn’t have to dress up often a sports coat may be more beneficial for you. Find some inspiration on our Pinterest and Instagram and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org when you’re ready to design something new!