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Blazer, Sport Coat, Suit Jacket.

People ask me a lot what the difference is. Can’t you just wear a suit jacket without matching pants and call it a blazer? Why can’t you wear a blazer and a similar colored pant to a formal event like you would a suit?

Everything has its place and its purpose that’s why.

The differences between Sport Coats and blazers is pretty much gone in the everyday modern world. Just like tie clip and tie bar, they’re interchangeable and mean about the same. The blazer used to have things emblazoned upon them. Usually school affiliations and they usually were double breasted. Sport Jackets didn’t have the affiliations on them but they also didn’t have coordinating pants like suit jacket.

Now about the only difference is this. Navy blazers have the gold buttons. Everything else can be called a sport jacket.

The difference between a Sport Jacket/Blazer and a suit is much easier to see and much more in important. Blazers/Sport Jackets are looser in fit first of all and they usually have a three button closure of some kind. They are never worn with coordinating pants and they are always considered less formal. Certainly they add a dressier flair absent in a world where everyone’s pants feature the most heinous of rear pocket designs or proudly proclaim their “Juicy”ness for all to see. But still, they are casual. Casual in that kind of classic You Give a Damn How People See You kind of way.

These are the jackets you can play with. They don’t need ties but you’re welcome to it if you want. They don’t need to be buttoned all the time but you can. A dress shirt isn’t the only thing you can wear beneath them but it certainly works. The patterns can be wilder or conservative… or no pattern at all. If you want to be that guy with an ironic or cartoon print t-shirt and jacket on then this is the kind of jacket your looking for. (Please don’t)

Suit jackets have rules though. They need the pants to match. They need a dress shirt underneath and they need to have a closer fit than your sport coat. A suit exists to make a man look better, not just formal. But better. They accentuation his masculine features. The define the waist, broaden the shoulders and present a sleek silhouette. They need to be buttoned when you are standing for more than just a moment or two. They don’t have shiny buttons. You should always begin your day in a suit with a tie on. Feel free to lose it as the day progresses but never start a suit without a tie.

Earn the right to roll up your sleeves, loose then tie and get casual. Don’t start that way.

Quick note on buttons and buttoning. Sometimes, always, never. That’s the order you button up jackets in. If it’s a two button skip the first step and start with Always. If its a single button, that’s weird. If its a four button then not even God can save you from the strange nightmare world you feel into.

Here’s a Sport Coat from Banana Republic that I tried on recently. It’s part of their new spring wardrobe launch and the advertisement for it caught my eye so I tried it in person.

(They call it the Utility Blazer)

I find it fascinating and yet there are some issues with the blazer. The arm holes are a little restrictive but that’s ok. I’m typically not playing football or conquering nations in my blazers. The three button look on a blazer is typical but the position is high. I buttoned the bottom button only because that’s how it’s done in the add. The blazer is also a bit tight. This is the size I’d wear with any other company but this particular jacket’s built in such a way that leaves little room. It’s not exactly showing any pull in the front but it’s sooo close to it. Consider one size up over your regular if you think about getting this jacket unless you like a very slim it. I do but at the same time there is such a thing as too slim. The brick and mortar Banana Republic I was in retailed this at 130.00. Rule of thumb with any GAP store; wait fifteen minutes and a sale or coupon will roll around. Never buy full price.

Here’s an offering from Macy’s as far as blazers go

Sons of Intrigue is one of Macy’s house brands that leans to an edgier modern hipster dandy kind of thing. They have contrasting fabrics under the collars and on the insides and they use contrasting stitching around the lapel and cuff holes. They’re neat. And way more fun to look at than the boring Lauren ones next to the suit department. They retail for around 100.00 bucks and their fit is slim but a comfortable slim.

And then this happened

Found this at Nordtrom Rack. I don’t know what to say? Its bold as all hell and I’m not ashamed to say I really love this thing but at the same time I  have no idea what I’d do with it? I mean… wow.

As is typical, Rack is pushing what can’t sell at their department stores and so it has the hyper inflated Nordstrom price with a “look at this deal” mark down. This one claims to be a 475.00 blazer marked to 99.00 bucks. Very kind of them, no?

So that’s my approach to blazers and a look at a few of the offerings out there at the moment. I’d love to hear yours.

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