The Professional Wardrobe, Tier 3

If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, you may want to go back and check them out.  As a reminder, Tiers 1 and 2 deal with the suit and the blazer respectively.  We are now going to turn our attention to Tier 3, the realm of the sportcoat.

In my career selling clothing and advising individuals regarding professional dress, the question of, “What exactly is a sportcoat?” comes up fairly frequently.  Simply said, a sportcoat is any coat designed to be worn with trousers but not as part of a suit.  While they can be in solid colors, like a blazer, they differ from the blazer in two ways.  First, blazers often retain brass or metal colored buttons, while the sportcoat does not.  Secondly, blazers frequently make use of patch pockets, while sportcoats most frequently have a flap pocket, more similarly to a suit.

While the sportcoat originated in outdoor sporting activities like hunting and fishing, it has become a much more sophisticated piece of clothing.  Worn in situations where a full suit is too much, a sportcoat can be paired with slacks, shirt and tie and be nearly even with the suit for most social and business functions.  paired with jeans and/or an open collared shirt, and the sportcoat gives an air of sophistication to an otherwise unfinished or casual look.

While the fabrics used can vary widely, from corduroy to tweed to leather to various fabric weaves, the sportcoat maximizes this variety.  Because of the variety, multiple looks and outfits can be created with a single sportcoat.

My suggestion is that a man should have at least as many suits as he is old in decades, but he can never have too many sportcoats.  while not as formal as the suit, this indispensible item of a gentleman’s wardrobe is sure to be used frequently, perhaps more frequently than any other part of the wardrobe.

When do you wear sportcoats?


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