Buying a Quality Blazer Or Sports Coat

April 26th, 2010 by admin Leave a reply »



The work environment, as well as social events, has become more casual over the last several years. In a few places, suit and tie are still mandatory, while in others, tee shirts and jeans are the norm. Your boss will determine the dress code at work, your host at other events, so follow his or her lead. Most “dressy” places are pretty flexible; suits are common, but the blazer allows more variety and comfort while presenting a professional or cultured appearance.

Blazers, sports coats, sports jackets (or simply, jackets) are essentially the same thing; they look like suit jackets but are not sold with matching pants. It is a dress coat, proper for wear to office, church, dinner, first meeting with the prospective in-laws, IRS audit and other important events. If the invitation says semi-formal, definitely wear a suit; if not, a blazer is entirely appropriate.

Color

If you can only afford one sports coat, it should be camel hair. Harvested from Asian Bactrians (the two-hump type), this light brown wool is soft and durable. More importantly, this jacket is a fashion icon that will match many colors of trousers and will never, never, never be out of fashion.

As an alternative or a second, get a navy blue or gray jacket. They are always popular (the choice will depend on personal preference, not where you ancestors lived during the Civil War). Blue and gray sports jackets are so common as to be almost cliche, but it’s hard to go wrong with a clothing item that always works. For fun, get the navy blazer double-breasted with brass buttons for a nautical flavor. Gray blazers are usually light in color to match more pants colors and, if made in tropical weight fabric, can be very comfortable even in summer.

If you’d rather show off your personal style, get a herringbone or hounds tooth pattern. You could also pick an English tweed or Scottish tartan. Even if you are ethnically unqualified, declare your fashion flair! Just remember, a blazer is not a stand alone item: To be properly fitted out, match the coat with other business apparel–shirts, pants, shoes and ties–to complete the set.

Materials

As in all clothing, fabrics vary widely and each has its particular appeal:

Corduroy
A cut pile cloth of pure cotton with ”ridges” running up the length. A corduroy blazer is distinctively casual among men’s coats. One thing: When wearing cords, go jacket or pants, not both.

Leather / Suede
It’s more common in bomber-style jackets from the play clothes group, however, a suede or leather jacket cut like a suit jacket (with buttons instead of a zipper) really looks good if it’s well made. One caution: Skimp on this purchase price and you’ll be very unhappy you did; invest in full-grain, high-quality leather.

Linen
A natural fiber that’s stronger and stiffer than cotton. Lightweight and very good for summer, linen is doubly good when blended with wool or silk.

Polyester
The double-knit fad of the 1970s was a bad idea from which some of us may never recover. Fortunately, new polyester fabrics closely match natural fibers in appearance, though not in comfort or durability. Often blended with natural fibers to lower the cost, the poly-blend is a good, affordable compromise.

Silk
The premier clothing fiber is unmatched in luster, warmth, strength, high cost or delicacy. Silk-blends, with wool or linen, make affordable compromises.

Wool
The best fabric overall has a great appearance, is durable and comfortable and blends well with all other fabrics. Wool is pricey, but not out of reach. Woven in a variety of weights for various climates, a 100-percent virgin wool blazer will look good for years.

Blazer care

It really couldn’t be simpler, ‘Professionally dry clean only.’ Even if it’s marked wash and wear, pamper your sports coat a little, they deserve it.

Terms to keep in mind:

Though used interchangeably, there is a technical difference between a sport coat or jacket and a blazer. Speaking strictly, a blazer is a civilian uniform jacket–for a school, club or other group. Proper blazers always have metal buttons (but don’t let that stop you, it’s an easy fix), and, like the coat of arms of King Arthur’s knights, it is ‘emblazoned’ with the crest or logo of the group sewn or embroidered on the left breast. These should always be worn with a necktie, preferably in the group’s colors–some groups even have an official tie pattern. Embroidered crests have become pretty rare but, if you are entitled, wear it proudly. Too ostentatious at work, it’s an impressive choice for evening or social gatherings.

Double breasted
The jacket front panels overlap and have a double row of buttons–one just for show. (If the working buttons are on the left, don’t try it on; it’s a woman’s blazer!)

Single breasted
The front panels on the jacket don’t overlap, with a single row of buttons.

Vent
The split in the back of the jacket from just below the waist to the lower hem. Some blazers are no-vent; single-vented has the split in the middle, double-vented has one along each side seam.

How do I know it will fit?

Get measured by someone who knows what they’re doing. Good clothing stores will measure you, even if you don’t buy from them. Blazers size the same as men’s suits, with S (small), R (regular) and L (long) for sleeve length. Get a jacket with sleeves that reach just to the wrist–your shirt should extend an inch or two beyond, to the base of the thumb. Since very few people are ”average,” you may need slight alterations to fit your individual measurements. Better clothing stores have an in-house tailor who will adjust clothes you didn’t buy from them quite inexpensively.

What about trousers?

Do not match colors exactly. Wear dress pants in complimentary or contrasting shades. With that camel hair, any brown corduroys or khaki pants look great. With the double-breasted navy, white makes a real statement for summer. Gray or black trousers match virtually all jacket colors. Some colors, like green or purple, don’t ever look professional, but work for a party.

Whatever your choice in color or style, remember, spend what you must to get a quality blazer, and it will be a purchase you’ll never regret.

If, instead, you’d like to show off your personal clothing style, get a herringbone or pick up a houndstooth; buy an English tweed or Scottish tartan–even if you are ethnically unqualified, declare your fashion flair! Remember, a blazer is not a stand alone item: To be properly fitted out, match the coat with other business apparel–shirts, pants, shoes and ties–to complete the set.

Materials

As in all clothing, fabrics vary widely and each has its particular appeal:

Corduroy
A cut pile cloth of pure cotton with ”ridges” running up the length. A corduroy blazer is distinctively casual among men’s coats. When wearing cords, go jacket or pants, not both.

Leather/Suede
It’s more common in bomber-style jackets from the play clothes group, however, a suede or leather jacket cut like a suit jacket (with buttons instead of a zipper) really looks good if it’s well made. Don’t skimp on this purchase price and you’ll be very happy you did.

Linen
A natural fiber that’s stronger and stiffer than cotton. Lightweight and very good for summer, linen is doubly-good when blended with wool or silk.

Polyester
The double-knit fad in the 1970s was a bad idea from which some of us may never recover. Fortunately, new polyester fabrics can closely match natural fibers in appearance, though not in comfort or durability. Often blended with natural fibers to lower the cost, the poly-blend is a good compromise.

Silk
The premier clothing fiber is unmatched in luster, warmth, strength, high cost or delicacy. Silk-blends, with wool or linen, make affordable compromises.

Wool
The best fabric overall has a great appearance, is durable and comfortable and blends well with all other fabrics. Wool is pricey, but not out of reach. Woven in a variety of weights for various climates, a 100-percent virgin wool blazer will look good for years.

Blazer care

It really couldn’t be simpler, ‘Professionally dry clean only.’ Even if it’s marked wash and wear, pamper your sports coat a little, it is worth it.

Terms to keep in mind:

Though used interchangeably, there is a technical difference between a sport coat or jacket and a blazer. Speaking strictly, a blazer is a civilian uniform jacket–for a school, club or other group. Proper blazers always have metal buttons (but don’t let that stop you, it’s an easy fix), and, like the coat of arms of King Arthur’s knights, it is ‘emblazoned’ with the crest or logo of the group sewn or embroidered on the left breast. They should always be worn with a necktie, preferably in the group’s colors (some groups actually have an official tie). Embroidered crests have become pretty rare but, if you are entitled, it is appropriate for evening or social gatherings. Other useful terms:

Double breasted
The jacket front panels overlap and have a double row of buttons–one just for show. (If the working buttons are on the left, don’t try it on; it’s a woman’s blazer!)

Single breasted
The front panels on the jacket don’t overlap, with a single row of buttons.

Vent
The split in the back of the jacket from just below the waist to the lower hem. Some blazers aren’t no-vent; single-vented has the split in the middle, double-vented has one along each side seam.

How do I know it will fit?

Get measured by someone who knows what they’re doing. Good clothing stores will measure you, even if you don’t buy from them. Blazers size the same as men’s suits, in S (small), R (regular) and L (long). Get a jacket with sleeves that reach just to the wrist–your shirt should extend an inch or two beyond, to the base of the thumb. Since very few people are ”average,” you may need slight alterations to fit your individual measurements. Better clothing stores have an in-house tailor who will adjust clothes you didn’t buy from them quite inexpensively.

What about trousers?

Do not match colors exactly. Wear dress pants in complimentary or contrasting shades. With that camel hair, any brown corduroys or khaki pants look great. With the double breasted navy, white makes a real statement. Gray or black trousers match virtually all jacket colors. Some colors, like green or purple, don’t ever look professional, but can work well in casual situations.

Whatever your choice in color or style, remember, spend what you must to get a quality blazer, and it will be a purchase you’ll never regret it.

By: Phoenix Roberts