The terms blazer, suit jacket and sport coat sometimes get used interchangeably, but this doesn’t mean they’re the same. There are subtle differences between these garments that are important to understand if you’re trying to build a versatile wardrobe and coordinate your outfits.  

In this blog, we’ll cover the definitions of these three different jacket types and summarise their key differences. 


What is a sport coat?

Man in sport coat

Sport coats (or sport jackets) originated in the 19th century. Men needed a specific coat for outdoor activities and sports like fishing or hunting. Nowadays, the sport coat is regarded as a casual option, much more so than blazers or suit jackets, because they aren’t as structured.

What sets sport coats apart from blazers is that they are typically made from a patterned cloth, while blazers are usually made of a solid colour fabric. They are available in many different colours and patterns, including herringbone, houndstooth, tweed and flannel. The more traditional styles often have ticket pockets, elbow patches and pleats. You can wear a sport jacket with coordinating trousers in a complementary solid colour, jeans or casual trousers. 

Sport coats come in various textures and weights, making them an incredibly versatile choice throughout the year and a great addition to any man’s wardrobe. Their more relaxed fit makes them perfect for layering with knitted jumpers or turtlenecks during the colder months.


What is a blazer?

Man in blazer

The blazer also dates back to the 19th century when Britain’s Royal Navy standardised its uniform to include a navy blazer jacket. Nowadays, a blazer is usually defined by its metal buttons, perhaps featuring a nautical symbol. They’re typically a solid colour, with black or blue being the most common option. 

A blazer has a more structured fit than a sports jacket and is a more formal option, but still less formal than a suit jacket. It’s often worn to help smarten up a casual outfit for a more formal occasion. 

Although navy blue is the traditional blazer colour, you can now find blazer jackets in a variety of different fabrics and colours. They typically have buttons down the middle and can be worn single-breasted or double-breasted, depending on your preference. 

A blazer is another versatile jacket that should be a part of any gentleman’s wardrobe. It can be paired with chinos or jeans and a T-shirt for a more relaxed look or a shirt and tie for a more formal event. 


What is a suit jacket?

man in suit jacket

A suit jacket is the most formal option and probably the one you are most familiar with. The main difference between a suit jacket and a blazer or sport coat is that suit jackets are designed to be worn as part of a matching suit. Traditionally, they’re paired with coordinating trousers and sometimes as a waistcoat. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t wear a suit jacket on its own. 

Suits tend to be worn to work, business meetings or formal events like weddings. They’re available in various styles, colours, patterns and fabrics, depending on where you intend to wear your suit. Because they’re a more fitted and tailored option, they don’t work as well for layering as the suit types mentioned above.  

If you’re attending a formal event, it’s best to wear your suit jacket as intended – with matching suit trousers, a dress shirt and a tie. However, what makes a suit jacket such a versatile choice is that it can still be dressed down for more casual occasions. You can always pair it with jeans or chinos for a more relaxed look.  


Sport coat vs blazer vs suit jacket: What’s the difference?

If you’re still unsure of the key differences between these suit types, here’s a quick round-up:

  • Sport coats are the most casual option, with a more relaxed, looser fit. They’re perfect for layering in colder months or for events where you want to look stylish but still casual. 
  • Blazers are more formal than sport coats and have a more structured fit. They’re a versatile wardrobe addition and typically come in solid colours, like navy and black.
  • Suit jackets are the most formal option. They are designed to be worn as part of a suit ensemble, with a matching pair of trousers and a dress shirt. A traditional suit is the best option for a formal event like a wedding. 


How Phillip Alexander can help

Philip Alexander Bespoke Tailors have been dressing gentlemen for over 140 years. We specialise in crafting beautiful, tailored suits for all formal occasions at our Cheshire and Savile Row locations.  

Bespoke tailored suits 

Having a bespoke suit tailored for you is an unparalleled experience and the epitome of luxury. If you want a stunning, one-of-a-kind wedding suit or an elegant tailored suit to wear to another formal occasion, like an award ceremony or ball, our bespoke service is the only option. 

You can fully personalise your suit to your preferences and choose your suit fabric from thousands of options. Our master tailor handcrafts all our bespoke suits to ensure you get a suit of the highest quality that fits you seamlessly!

Made to measure tailored suits 

We also offer made-to-measure suits, made using a mixture of handcraft and machine work. Our made-to-measure suits are ready in less than two months at a lower price point, so they’re the perfect choice if you’re on a budget but still want to look stunning.

Luxury tailored suit hire

If you require a tailored suit for a formal event but aren’t ready to invest in one of your own, we recommend our luxury tailored suit hire service. Unlike many other suit hire services, ours includes several fitting sessions to ensure the perfect fit for your special day. 

Get in contact with us today to request an appointment to learn more about our tailoring process and the options available.