A sport jacket is the singular garment that will spice up your style. But we also mentioned that the sport jacket is a “casual” jacket. Now that’s a little difficult for many to follow. A tailored jacket is a “formal” garment. Or at least “dressy” by normal convention. So how can a sport jacket (which by definition is a tailored jacket), be “casual”? How and where then do we fit business suits into the formality scale?
What’s A “Casual” Jacket In The First Place?
We have loosely shared where each class of attire sits on the formality scale here. But unlike the business suits and the blazers with mismatched trousers, attires with sport jackets span a very wide range. It starts from business casual and dressy casual on the higher end of the formality scale. And go all the way down to dressed down casual and polo-shirts and jeans casual on the lower end of the scale. You might have noticed the common denominator here as “casual”, hence the term “casual jacket”.
Do note that when we say “casual”, we don’t mean sloppy. So no faded or torn jeans, loud graphic t-shirts, oversized hoodies and slippers with exposed toes. These are not “casual”. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what makes a sport jacket the quintessential casual jacket.
(1) Fabric And Weave
Originating from the Scottish and Irish highlands is the rugged outerwear to protect the wearer from the harsh environment. Once relegated only to be worn in the countryside, it was considered faux pas to wear it in the city. Hence the term “country wear” was coined to differentiate it with the more delicate city suits. Of course, this notion no longer holds true, as sport jackets are worn in the cities today as a more casual attire.
Tweed, a rough woollen fabric, is both tough and hardwearing. Being spun from thick and strong woollen yarn, then woven in dense twill or herringbone pattern, results in a relatively thick fabric. Perfect for keeping warm in the cold Scottish winter. It’s tough enough to protect the wearer even when navigating through thick brushes in the woods.
Whilst excellent as a winter weight jacket, it’s not exactly what one might gravitate towards in the tropics or summer. Linen, on the other hand, offers similar qualities as tweed, except the insulation. Similarly rugged and tough, linen is the tropical equivalent of tweed.
(2) Texture And Pattern
Suit jackets and blazers generally come in solid colours and have smooth worsted texture. That’s what we generally associate with being “dressy”. Sport jackets, on the other hand, are the total opposite. Rough textured fabric (e.g. tweed and linen) tend to “feel” less formal. Likewise, patterned fabric also tend to add a touch of casualness too. In fact, the larger the pattern and the higher the contrast, the less formal it’ll appear. Houndstooth, Glen check, gingham check, shepherd’s check, even Madras check are commonly available as staple sport jacket fabric.
(3) External Features
Sport jackets generally have all of the external features of a typical suit jacket or blazer. But the more pronounced they are, the more casual they tend to appear. The more features to break away from the “clean” outline, the more casual it’ll be. Here are a few typical examples :-
(3.1) Patch Pockets
Suit jackets (to a certain extent blazers too) featured internal pocket bags, with only the flaps or jetted seams showing. This enhances the clean and streamline look, emphasising its formality. So to break away from this look, sport jackets tend to favour external patch pockets. You have a piece of fabric “patched” onto the outer shell of the jacket, forming the pocket. So externally, you can actually see the pocket itself.
Again, the more elaborate the pocket design, the more casual it tends to be. Sewing the fabric flat onto the outer shell of the jacket body is the dressiest option. You have the option to go down the formality scale even more by incorporating more features and details to the pocket. Pleated pocket, flapped patch pocket, pocket with bellows, bellows with contrasting fabric, etc., the options are almost limitless.
(3.2) Elbow Patches
When worn regularly, points of contact tend to wear out faster than the rest of the garment. And on a sport jacket, the elbows are the highest points of contact. Hence, the elbows tend to wear out pretty quickly. So to address that issue, one simply patches it up with hardwearing material, like suede. Originally designed as a way to reduce the wear and tear of the shell fabric. Or at least to cover up the wear and tear.
These days, the elbow patches serve more as a reminiscence of the bygone days. They no longer serve their original purpose, as modern fabric are more hardy. Besides, nobody wears their sport jackets when crawling through the bushes anymore.
(3.3) Contrasting Buttons
Suits (specifically suit jackets) tend to favour buttons of similar colour as the shell fabric. This low contrast projects an air of formality in the overall clean look. Hence, less formal jackets tend to go the opposite direction. Shiny metallic buttons emblazon blazers as a way to stand out from the regular suit jackets. Likewise, sport jackets tend to opt for similarly contrasting buttons too.
Horn, corozo and coconut shell buttons tend to have a naturally darker tone. Perfect for lighter shade sport jackets. Whilst mother of pearl, bone and seashell buttons tend to have a lighter hue. These are more suited for darker shade sport jackets. You can opt for plastic buttons too if budget not permitting. Besides, plastic buttons offer something that natural buttons don’t – consistency in colour and pattern.
(4) Other More Advanced Features Of The Casual Jacket
There are also other lesser-known features to make the sport jacket even more casual. Examples like patched right shoulder (for right handed people) reminiscence of shooting jackets is one such example. Then there’s also the extended buttoned up collar to protect the wearer’s neck from the cold wind too. This extended button latch can extend visibly from the jacket collar, or hidden away underneath it. Half-belt, reminiscence of the Norfolk jacket with an external belt. Basically speaking, the more visible features the sport jacket has, the more casual it tends to be.
Why Wear A Casual Jacket?
Everybody has a personal brand, whether or not you choose to actively curate one. And that often stems from the first impression you project, which usually means your attire. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t need to wear business suits regularly. So what happens if you have a chance meeting with a potential client, or even a potential mate? Will you be projecting a reliable and trustworthy image right there and then?
Simply layering with a sport jacket will immediately elevate your image. Even over just a simple polo-shirt and jeans, you’re essentially projecting a different image. One that’s two notches above what you’d otherwise look like without the casual jacket.
You can choose to wear a tie with your sport jacket for a more business appropriate image. Or opt for open neck shirt for a less dressy occasion. You can even wear it over a polo-shirt and jeans, and you’ll be the best looking man in the pub or restaurant too. In short, there really is no reason not to wear a casual sport jacket, regardless the occasion or the location.
Are You Ready To Build Your Personal Brand?
People judge you by your external image all the time. That’s a given. The phrase “Never judge a book by its cover” doesn’t hold any water these days… It probably never did… So don’t let others decide your personal brand. Take control of your own personal brand, and curate it exactly the way you want others to see you. And if you need somebody to help point you to the right direction, go get in touch with Solarex Imaging. Brand consultation works not only with corporations, but also with individuals too.
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