When to wear the Sports Jacket
A Man’s wardrobe doesn’t have too many options: Suits, an evening Tuxedo and some sports jackets that you can wear for other occasions – but when do those occasions come up? How do you know when you won’t be too over or under dressed?
First a little history: There was a time when Men never left the house without a jacket and tie. From the turn of the 20th Century on, pictures of golfers, hunters, Equestrians all wore the ubiquitous outdoor jacket and tie. These were made of hardier material than the regular evening suits –mostly Tweed was popular. And they were more patterned than the evening wear. Because they were housing a more active body, they also sported a different look than suits. They were looser, that had a single-breasted profile, and featured vents in the back so that the sporty gentlemen within them could move easier when say, racing cars or angling. Even after the Second World War, when guys were still undressed without a suit, the Sports jacket became the ‘go to’ wardrobe piece when you didn’t have to wear a tie, included backyard Barbecues and other neighbourly pursuits.
Keeping today’s more casual dress code in mind, sports jackets still have a place at both work and play. Just because we don’t wear jackets for much these days, it doesn’t mean they have no use. Men always need pockets to keep their stuff in when they are going out; Wallets, cigars, transit passes, why carry a bag or (shudder!) fanny pack, when you can simply slip on a sports jacket with slacks, or jeans. In fact, it is usual to use old suit jackets as sports coats – especially if they have a pattern.
If you are buying a sports coat and want to know what colour to buy, think of what suit colours you already own, and how you could be different. A light coloured jacket works – especially if it has a darker thread design running through it: You can wear these with all kinds of trouser styles. But, when to wear them?
We always find that it helps to think along the lines of the Cruise Ship business between the two world Wars – a time when everyone still dressed, but there were more choices available to people that travelled a lot. On the evenings onboard ship (Ships never spent overnights in port.), there were formal nights when the officers came out, and cocktail parties took place all over the ship. Then there were Casual nights, when the ship had been in port all day long, and all of the passengers came back hot and tired from their travels, and didn’t want to dress up: This is the perfect time for a sports jacket and dark slacks – these days you don’t even have to put a tie – or even a buttoned shirt on. Even a Polo Shirt can be worn below a sports jacket with crisp, new jeans, and looks good. Finally, the nights that weren’t Formal, but everyone has spent all day onboard. These were known as Semi-Formal, and men would wear dress suits. After all, you aren’t doing anything, so you need that time in your cabin before cocktails and dinner, so dressing up was what you did – after all, the Ladies did.
Use the same logic for your event: Is it a ‘formal’ daytime event, such as a job interview, client meeting, or daytime wedding? The suit is the way to go, here. Is it a time when you will be spending a lot of time out of the house, but you don’t want to wear a tie, or even a dress shirt – NOW you wear your Sports jacket. Look good, and enjoy the pocket space!