When choosing a jacket, some men and the menswear stores they frequent use the terms sports jacket and blazer, as well as suit coat, interchangeably. When this is done, the nuances of the different types of coat are lost. Therefore, it is helpful for the wearer to understand the type of jacket they prefer and its origins.
The Sports Jacket
There are three types of suit jackets available for those who are interested. The sports jacket, termed the “Norfolk Jacket”, was designed after men developed the habit of wearing a morning jacket for sporting events, which was not considered appropriate formal wear.
The Norfolk jacket was made of thicker material and had a belt around the waist to keep it fastened and out of the way for men participating in shooting activities. In the 1920's, the Norfolk jacket was adapted, losing the belt and buckle while maintaining many other similarities to the original. That is the current accepted sports jacket worn today.
The first type of modern sports jacket is two-button, single-breasted with a sport lapel flap and a ticket flap pocket.
The second type of sports jacket is two-button, single-breasted with a hand-stitched notched lapel and patch pockets.
The third variety is three-button, single-breasted with a closing front lapel and flap pockets.
The sports jacket is available in several colors and patterns. Among the many varieties available are the seersucker, serge, worsted wool, sharkskin, hopsack, flannel, tweed, herringbone, madras, linen, corduroy, camel's hair, cashmere, fresco and bird's eye.
This type of jacket is versatile, as it can be worn in so many colors and can be paired with jeans or dress pants. The jacket can also be identified because it can be thicker to protect the wearer from the elements. The Italians did introduce a variety of the sports jacket that is lighter and more comparable to the blazer.
There are three types of blazer jackets. They are available with a different number of buttons and in various fabrics and colors.
The first type is the two-button, single-breasted blazer with a notched lapel and flap pockets. This type of coat gained popularity with rowing clubs in England, as the two buttons allowed rowers more range of motion.
The second type is the three-button, single-breasted blazer with notched lapel and flap pockets. These are gaining popularity as competition for the two-button variety, and they are recommended for men taller than six feet. This type of blazer can be worn with trousers of a different color to provide balance for a taller man.
The third type is the six-button, double-breasted blazer with peaked lapel and jetted pockets. This type of jacket was preferred by the British military in the early 19th century, and it gained popularity quickly with civilians due to its use by the military. This particular coat was navy in color.
Blazer jackets can be made from the following seven fabrics: worsted wool, serge, hopsack, flannel, fresco, cashmere and linen. The jackets are typically found in several colors as well, including navy, blue, bottle green, red and two patterns of regatta.