Men's Blazers & Sport Coats - The Ultimate Guide
Table Of Contents
Frequently Asked Questions
What dress codes can I wear a blazer for?
A blazer adds a touch of sophistication and polish to any outfit, making it suitable for a range of scenarios but I think it works best for business casual and smart casual dress codes.
What are the different styles of men's blazers?
Blazers come with different vents (a vertical slit on the backside). You’ll want to go with a double vent, as this is the most flattering style but if you can't find a double vent, then a single vent is decent a secondary option.
Never go for a blazer without a vent – it’s a horrible look.
How many buttons should my blazer have?
If in doubt, always go for two buttons. No more, no less.
Three-button blazers may be trendy right now but trust me, it won't be long before they're considered dated and unstylish.
Should I button all the buttons on my blazer?
No! You should only ever button the top button and your bottom button is to remain open at all times.
Also, never wear your blazer buttons should be buttoned while you are wearing it sitting down.
Blazer Mistakes Most Men Make
A blazer can be a difficult item to pull off if you don't know what you're doing. Make sure that you don't make these mistakes:
Mistaking it for a suit jacket.
Rookie mistake! I go into much greater detail about this in the 'Blazer vs. Suit Jacket' section below.
Choosing the wrong fabric weight.
This can not only throw off your whole look but also be pretty uncomfortable. A fabric weight of 8 to 10 ounces is ideal for most climates, but if you're somewhere considerably hotter, go for around 6 ounces. Colder, you can go above 10 ounces.
Buttoning your bottom button.
Your bottom button is to remain open at all times.
Jackets with elbow pads or patches.
Blazers and sports coats can sometimes feature pads on the elbow area. These have a very old-timey feel which can look pretty distracting, especially if the patches are a contrasting shade to the rest of the blazer.
Want to see all the mistakes to avoid specifically for your age, height, body type, and skin tone? Check out our Essential Capsule Wardrobe App.
Anatomy of a Blazer
There are a number of different parts to a blazer and it's important to know what to look for.
This is the measurement that should dictate the size of your blazer.
You want the shoulder seam of the blazer to line up exactly with where your shoulder bone starts to curve down towards your arm.
There should not be any pulling or divots in the fabric.
If the shoulders are too big or small, a tailor will have a hard time fixing this, and it will be very expensive (if it's even possible), so ensure they fit properly when buying your blazer.
Just like your suit jacket, you're always going to want to go for a 'notch' lapel.
It's called this because it looks like a small notch has been taken out of the side of the lapel.
A peak lapel is very aggressive and doesn’t work on everybody and a shawl lapel should always be avoided.
A notch lapel is as classic and timeless as it gets.
Your armholes should be high, but not so high that they’re cutting into your armpit.
They should be large enough that you don’t notice them, but not so big that you have a few extra inches between your armpit and the bottom of the hole.
Your arms should be able to move somewhat independently of the jacket’s body during normal motion, but not excessively.
Simply put, the button stance measures the placement of the buttons on the front of a jacket.
The blazer’s second button from the bottom (aka the top button) should lie just above your belly button (no more than 1 inch/2.5cm), and never below.
Otherwise, it’ll throw off your body’s proportions and you’ll look really odd.
While wearing the blazer – when you bend your wrist, so your palms are facing the ground, the sleeves should be about 0.25 inches (0.63cm) above the top of your hand.
A lot of people recommend that it hits the top of your hand, but that’s wrong.
You actually want a little bit (0.25 inches/ 0.63cm) of your shirt sleeve to peek through.
If your sleeves are longer, a tailor can easily fix them. If they’re shorter by more than an inch, then ditch the jacket, as the sleeves can’t be lengthened to fit you properly.
The length of your blazer will dictate how “balanced” your upper body is to your lower body.
The blazer should end around mid to lower crotch.
Mid-crotch if you’re under 5ft 9 inches (1.79m), lower than that if you’re taller than that.
A tailor can shorten your jacket up to an inch without messing up its proportions, but they can never lengthen your jacket.
Overall, you generally want this part to already be perfect when you’re buying a blazer, even off the rack.
The collar should rest against your shirt collar, which in turn should rest against the back of your neck.
All of these should touch lightly, without significant gaps in between. If there’s a gap, it’s too loose.
If there’s bunching just under the back of the jacket collar, it’s too tight or the stance of the jacket is off.
The sleeve of your jacket should fit comfortably over your shirt sleeve worn underneath without being overly loose or tight.
The majority of blazers come with decorative (non-functional) sleeve buttons.
These allow the sleeves of the blazer to fit as many arm sizes as possible.
If the buttons were functional, it would be exceedingly difficult to adjust the length of the sleeve for different arms.
The number of buttons dictates the style of the blazer.
Three-button sleeves have a more casual look while four buttons are a more traditional option.
A vent is basically a vertical slit found at the back of a blazer.
I always recommend going for a blazer with a double vent.
This style of vent has been around for quite a while and is always flattering.
If you can't find a double vent, then a single vent is decent a secondary option.
Never go for a blazer without a vent – it’s a horrible look.
Blazer vs. Sports Coat
In most stores, they're considered the same.
There are differences, though:
The buttons are usually different.
In the past, sports coats were traditionally patterned while blazers were traditionally solid-colored.
This gets pedantic very quickly.
As someone who has to deal with designers and (like you) buy from stores, I know that when you walk into a store and ask for a Sports Coat or Blazer, they'll hand you the same jacket.
So don't worry about it too much and just follow the recommendations and you'll look great - isn't that the goal here anyways?
Blazer vs. Suit Jacket
The main difference between blazers and suit jackets is that they are crafted from differently-weighted fabrics.
Fabric weights can really influence whether an item looks off or not.
Learn more about blazer fabrics in the 'Fabrics' section below.
If you get the chance, go somewhere that requires a jacket to be worn, like a business casual event or restaurant that requires a dinner jacket to be worn.
The jacket fabric seems a little too “thin” and “flowy” compared to the pants because it’s too light of a fabric to go with a heavier fabric like denim or chino cloth. They don’t lay or move the same, so it looks weird.
The problem is that most guys see pictures of other guys wearing suit jackets with jeans and think it looks great, which it does – in pictures. In person, it looks bad due to the different fabric weights.
So trust me on this one – you need separate blazers and suit jackets.
How To Tell A Blazer From A Suit Jacket
Here’s my patented 4-Step Process to tell if a jacket is a blazer or a suit jacket:
If the buttons on the sleeves and torso are metal of any kind – that’s a blazer.
If it has matching pants – that’s a suit jacket.
If the jacket is thinner or more delicate feeling – that’s a suit jacket.
If it’s heavier, thicker, or sturdier feeling – that’s a blazer.
For year-round blazers, I normally recommend you go with a heavier, textured wool fabric because it's robust and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this type of blazer. I personally like a fabric weight of between 8 to 10 ounces, depending on your climate.
Fall & Winter
The most important difference during this time of year is the fabric weight of your blazer and you always want to go for a thicker wool fabric, like Harris Tweed, for three reasons:
It will keep you much warmer during this time of year.
If it has a tighter weave, like Harris Tweed, it’ll be more durable, robust and
repel water and snow better.
For Fall and Winter blazers, the typical weight you should look for is around 12 ounces, but you can go all the way up to 16 to 20 ounces.
Spring & Summer
For the Spring and Summer months (and for hotter climates), I usually go with a fabric weight of around 6 ounces.
That said, I'd always opt for a heavier blazer if possible as lighter fabrics have very slim use cases and are such a pain in the butt to maintain that they’re usually not worth the hassle.
Colors and Patterns
If you can only get a blazer in one color, I'd recommend going for either navy or charcoal as these are the most stylish and versatile shades a man can wear. Ideally, you would have both for maximum versatility.
This looks great paired with white, blue, or brown items and accessories, including shoes.
This looks great paired with whites or blacks and any black accessories and shoes you have.
For your heavier Fall and Winter blazers, I also recommend going for some bolder and heavier patterns and some of my favorites include:
These will work well with the other items in your cold-weather wardrobe and a windowpane pattern can also work as a year-round pattern.
You've probably noticed that when it comes to your blazers (and your suit jackets), the sizing differs from the other items in your wardrobe.
Rather than displaying a measurement based on the size of your general frame (S, M, L), the label of your blazer will display a double-digit number followed by a letter (for example, 38R).
This measurement contains two different pieces of information:
Number = the chest size of the blazer (in inches)
This will usually be an even number between 34 and 52.
Letter = the length of the jacket
These typically come in short (S), regular (R), and long (L).
Usually, these lengths correspond with your overall height, and you can almost always figure out which size you are depending on how tall you are.
Men who are 5’7” or shorter with a chest measurement between 36-46 will need a short (S).
Men who are 5'7” to 6’1” with chest measurements between 36-54 will need a regular (R).
Men 6'2" and taller will almost always need a long (L).
That said, each brand will size its blazers differently, so it's important to try them on in the store whenever possible.
How a Blazer Should Fit
The collar of your blazer should rest against your shirt collar, which, in turn, should rest against the back of your neck without any gaps.
You want the shoulder seams of the blazer to end where your shoulders end – basically, where they start curving down to your arm. You should see no divots or wrinkles in the shoulders anywhere.**
The armholes should be high, but not so high that they cut into your armpit.**
With the top button fastened (never the bottom button), the blazer should lightly hug your midsection but not feel tight or constricting.*
The sleeve should end at or just before the wrist so it's when you bend your hand up with the palm down, it lightly touches the top of your hand or stops just short of it.
It blazer should end around mid to lower crotch. Mid-crotch if you’re under 5ft 9 inches (1.79m), lower than that if you’re taller than that.
* Cheap & easy to tailor.
** Expensive & hard to tailor. Best to find a brand that fits better here off the rack.
Want to see how your blazer should fit specifically for your age, height, body type, and skin tone?
This look shows how a good blazer can really elevate even the most casual of everyday looks. If you're looking for something dressier, feel free to swap out the chinos for jeans and the gray sweater for a black version.
If you've heard that navy and black don't mix, please disregard that. It's nonsense. You can also swap in some of your black or brown dress shoes here and it will look just as good.