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How to wear a sports jacket or blazer

Updated on March 12, 2011

Color, material, fit, what else is there to know?

Adding a blazer or two to your wardrobe can turn you from a boring dresser to a stylish guy. No matter what body type you have, a blazer will make you look better. It makes the shoulders look broader than they are and your midsection smaller.

A blazer can also be utilitarian. It'll keep you warm in the fall and winter months and provides pockets for your wallet, cell phone and car keys. That means few ugly bulges in your pants, which tend to be worn tighter than your blazer/sports coat (or at least they should be tighter, saggy jeans are very 1995).

If you don't live in a big city, wearing a blazer in public will probably set you apart as a snappy dresser. It's a simple piece of clothing that can instantly elevate your social status.

The difference between a blazer and a sports jacket

There actually is a difference between a blazer and a sports jacket. A sports jacket is considered more casual and the fit should be a little looser. This makes it more of an active wear jacket as opposed to a blazer or a suit jacket, which tend to be more constraining. This is why it's generally appropriate to remove a blazer or suit jacket when dancing.

Although they are different, many of the same fashion rules apply to both a blazer and a sports jacket, so I'm going to use the terms interchangeably.

What materials should I go with for a blazer?

Why limit yourself to one material? If you're going to buy more than one, I suggest you go with different colors and different materials. For a brown or tan blazer, I highly recommend corduroy. It just looks great, especially when paired with dark blue jeans or a pair of gray trousers.

For wool, navy and gray seem to be the standard. The navy pairs well with gray trousers or a pair of chinos. A gray blazer goes well with just about anything. A really nice one could be the cornerstone piece of your wardrobe.

How many buttons should be on a blazer?

This one really depends on how tall you are and where you live. If you're short, go with a 2 button blazer. If you're taller you can go with a 3 button blazer. If you live in a cold climate where you'll often be wearing this blazer in sub-freezing temperatures, I suggest you go with a fully functional lapel that you can completely button up. When the weather is nice, you can unbutton and fold the lapel over so it looks like a 3 button blazer. Remember, never button the bottom button.

What do I wear with a blazer?

I suggest wearing a nice collared dress shirt under your blazer. The collar of the dress shirt should be about half an inch above the blazer collar.The dress shirt should have a different pattern and color than the blazer. For instance, don't wear a striped dress shirt with a pinstriped blazer.

For pants, the key is matching the tone of the color without matching the actual color. That means you shouldn't wear a tan blazer with khaki pants. The colors are too close. A brown blazer would go well with dark blue jeans.

What else should I know?

The key to a blazer is the fit. When you buy it, it needs to fit at the shoulders and be long enough in the sleeves. Pretty much everything else can be tailored. If you aren't comfortable with the fit, take it to a tailor. A $100 blazer with $100 in extra tailoring will look 10 times better than an off-the-rack $500 blazer.

For shoes, go with a pair of Chuck Taylors if you're a musician or go to art school. Otherwise, go with a nice pair of leather shoes that match your belt.

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