Jackets go by many names: blazers, classic jackets, suit jackets, sport coats. But the differences between them are not always that obvious. Many people tend to perceive blazers and suit jackets as the same thing, except they’ll often call the one they wear with a suit a ‘suit jacket,’ and the one they wear with mismatched trousers a ‘blazer.’
We’re here to clear things up and answer the titular question: can I wear a suit jacket as a blazer? If you’re looking to find out, then you’ve come to the right place, so keep reading for more!
Let’s start by taking a look at where these two items of clothing come from.
Over the centuries, male outwear has changed quite dramatically. Only at the end of the 14th century was jaquette as a term used. The first jaquettes were noticeably longer than a regular modern-day jacket, would extend down to the knees, and was padded, embroidered, and lined with fur.
The Sakko was likely the first garment to resemble the jacket we know today. It was commonly used in 19th-century England, and these sports coats were wide-shouldered, straight, and reached the wearer’s hips.
They had stitching at the sides, featured two cut pockets, and only one set of buttons. Fabrics used to make them were striped or squared, and they were accompanied by a pair of matching trousers.
It’s difficult to say, definitively, when the men’s blazer first showed up. The word was used first in approximately 1825 to describe the red blazers that were used by the members of the rowing club at St. John’s College, Cambridge, which was called the Lady Margaret Boat Club.
Their jackets were referred to as blazers, derived from ‘blaze,’ thanks to the vibrant red fabric used to create them, and after that, the term was used for any color of jacket.
To grasp the differences between a blazer and a suit jacket, it is necessary to understand how they are tailored.
What is a Suit Jacket?
A suit jacket is a piece of outerwear that belongs to an entire outfit consisting of the following: the jacket itself, a pair of trousers, and a vest, sometimes. Though it has become popular of late to wear a jacket with other garments, like jeans, formal trousers in a non-matching color, and chinos, a suit jacket is meant to be worn with trousers that match, to maintain a formal appearance.
What is a Blazer?
Unlike the suit jacket, blazers have their own identities – they were designed to be worn with trousers that do not match. There are several different types of blazers, though the most popular is the Navy Blazer – a blue blazer, double-breasted, with flap pockets and six golden buttons.
The single-breasted blazer variant is derived from the ‘club blazer’ we mentioned previously. It’s generally blue and features patch pockets. Trends in fashion changed this garment’s nature, and these days, blazers can be bought in a plethora of new colors and shapes.
There are several different styles for both blazers and suit jackets. Though, suit jackets serve a more formal purpose, while blazers fulfill one that is more casual.
Suit jackets generally have two or three buttons and are single-breasted, or have four or six buttons and are double-breasted. More formal variants have welt pockets, while more casual models feature flap pockets.
Blazers are available in two variants: double-breasted with six buttons and single-breasted with two buttons. Both feature patch pockets.
As you probably already know, like with most other clothing, various fabrics can be used to construct blazers and suit jackets. Let’s take a look:
The fabric that is used to create a suit jacket will also be used to create trousers. This means that the fabric must be durable and resistant to tears and abrasions, as trousers can wear out far easier than a jacket.
Other than practicality, there is the aspect of style to take into consideration as well – suit jackets are formal garments, so pattern, solar, and details must be appropriate for a range of formal contexts and ceremony.
The fabric used to make a blazer can be chosen without considering the trousers for a second. This means that they could be lighter, less durable, and in different patterns featuring different details.
Can a Suit Jacket Be Worn As a Blazer?
Now for the part you all came here for. The short answer is ‘yes,’ but before we discuss any specific rules and other considerations, here’s the best tip for figuring out whether your suit jacket can be worn as a blazer:
If you remove the suit jacket from the trousers and feel that now they are missing their partner, then that suit jacket can’t be worn as a blazer.
The goal when wearing a suit jacket as a blazer is that you should be able to look at someone wearing a blazer and be unable to tell whether or not they’re supposed to be wearing a matching pair of pants.
Now for the general tips:
The majority of patterned suit jackets will not make effective or stylish blazers. However, if you have a collection of suits that is large enough to feature a patterned one, you likely don’t aren’t bothered by whether or not you can wear it as a blazer. Window panes and pinstripes should also stick with their trousers.
‘Classic’ fabrics like tweed will generally always work in a blazer context. The thicker and more matte the fabric is, the easier it is to pull off.
Blazers should have a looser fit than suit jackets. A helpful rule is that if you can wear it over a sweater, you can wear it as a blazer.
Now you know the answer to this question and have tips on wearing your jacket as a blazer. We hope your next outfit will look excellent!