Sport coat vs. blazer: Which one to wear to the office

Shirts & Tops

The term blazer came from the bright, “blazing” red jackets worn by the Lady Margaret Boat Club in the 1950s at Cambridge.

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Is a sport coat or blazer better for the office?

The terms “sport coat” and “blazer” often are used interchangeably when it comes to naming a men’s jacket. While they’re similar, there are some key differences. These differences are important to know when you’re going into an office surrounded by colleagues in jeans or you’re meeting that $1 million potential client for the first time. When you know what’s what, not only will you know what to wear to the office, but you’ll avoid the potentially embarrassing mistake of donning a sport coat to a charity gala or layering a bulky sweater under a blazer.

Sport coat

A sport coat is a jacket that goes well with pants made of a different, complementary fabric and in a different pattern — usually a solid color. Sport coats come in various fabrics (such as  tweeds), textures and weights to go with the four seasons. As far as jackets go, it’s professional yet less structured and fitted, and more casual than a blazer. Sport coats sometimes feature slits, elbow patches, pleats or ticket pockets. You can wear one with dress pants and a tie or your favorite pair of jeans. They’re versatile and adaptable.

A sport coat typically ranges in price from about $20 to upward of $200 or even hundreds of dollars more, depending on the brand, material and quality you’re looking for. You can find some great options at retailers including Amazon, Macy’s and Kohl’s.

Sport coat pros

  • More versatile than a blazer since you can wear it casually and in some dressier circumstances.
  • Less fitted and structured than blazers, so they tend to offer more comfort and movement range.
  • Great for layering over sweaters or other thick clothing.

Sport coat cons

  • Could be seen as too casual.
  • Bulkier and less structured than a blazer, so might not be as flattering a fit.
  • Although generally lower-priced than blazers, this can mean more lower-quality options on the market.

Best sport coats

Haggar Birdseye Fancy Slim-Fit 2-Button Side-Vent Sport Coat

Haggar Birdseye Fancy Slim-Fit 2-Button Side-Vent Sport Coat

This fitted sport coat from Haggar features a two-button front closure with a side vent, notched lapel and four-button sleeve. It’s very versatile if you’re looking to dress up or down.

Sold by Amazon

Original Penguin Men's Sport Coat

Original Penguin Men’s Sport Coat

For a comfortable, modern take on the classic sport coat, check out this slim-fit style from Original Penguin. Made of a wool-poly stretch blend fabric, it features a printed pocket square, collar stand, lining and lapel pin.

Sold by Amazon

Geek Lightning Blazer One-Button Slim-Fit Lightweight Casual Sports Coat

Geek Lightning Blazer One-Button Slim-Fit Lightweight Casual Sports Coat

If you want a slim-fit, casual and stylish design in your next sport coat, look no further than this lightweight style from Geek Lightning. Featuring a one-button closure and dual vents, this coat conveniently holds all your essentials in its two pockets.

Sold by Amazon

Blazer

A blazer is a solid-color jacket, often in black or blue. It has buttons that contrast, often made from metal. Blazers are available in two-button single-breasted, three-button single-breasted and six-button double-breasted types. This type of jacket offers more shoulder structure and tailoring than a sport coat and often comes in wool, serge, cashmere and flannel. They’re also dressier than their sport coat counterparts, but not as dressy as a suit jacket, making them a nice, versatile compromise between the two for those more formal but not-quite-black-tie events.

A blazer often runs $20-$200 or much more, depending on the brand and quality you’re seeking.

Blazer pros

  • Ideal when a suit is inappropriate but you need to dress up.
  • Versatile to dress down or up; pair with denim, chinos or khakis for a casual look, or tailored pants to dress it up.
  • Comes in a variety of styles and materials.

Blazer cons

  • A more structured fit means it can feel less comfortable and more restrictive than a sport coat.
  • Buttons are a standard part of blazers and may not align with your personal style or a specific look you’re trying to achieve.
  • Typically dry-clean only and higher maintenance to take care of than a sport coat.

Best blazers

Goodthreads Slim-fit Stretch Twill Blazer

Goodthreads Slim-fit Stretch Twill Blazer

This versatile, soft, breathable and lightweight twill-cotton-blend blazer comes in three colors and gives a slim, flattering fit. It features three exterior pockets and four-button cuffs.

Sold by Amazon

Cole Haan Slim-Fit Blazer

Cole Haan Slim-Fit Blazer

You don’t need to sacrifice comfort for style with this Cole Haan slim-fit blazer. Made of a wool-spandex blend, it has a bit of stretch for comfort and a lightweight build with breathable lining. There’s even a hidden zip pocket to discreetly store your valuables.

Sold by Amazon

Craft and Soul Slim-Fit Casual Unlined Comfort-Knit Blazer

Craft and Soul Slim-Fit Casual Unlined Comfort-Knit Blazer

With more than 40 years of experience in tailored men’s clothing, Craft and Soul prides itself on offering the best blazer fit with 14 different sizes, including short, regular and long. This casual, two-button closure knit blazer is made from a soft polyester-cotton blend and is unstructured, lightweight, unlined and intended to feel like you’re wearing a comfortable, casual sweater.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a sport coat or blazer?

Think of sport coats as the least formal type of jacket you can get. They’re great for casual events where you want to look stylish. Blazers, on the other hand, are a bit more fitted and polished-looking, and are better for more formal situations. In general, that means the office, but it depends on how informal your office is.

If you regularly meet with clients or are surrounded by coworkers who tend to dress up, opt for a blazer. Otherwise, you might be fine with a sport coat. It all depends on your specific situation. There is a lot of overlap between the two jacket types, so you could go either way.

 

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Emma Caplan writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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