What's the Difference Between a Sport Coat, Blazer, or Suit Jacket?

What's the Difference Between a Sport Coat, Blazer, or Suit Jacket?

Many of us have that image of the well-dressed man, maybe someone like James Bond, wearing his jacket and trousers, looking distinguished, cool and in control. Bond can do it all, and when it's time to dress up and take charge of any situation, you can bet that he'd not going out wearing the wrong jacket for the occasion.

How do you know, though, which of these types of jackets to wear to which place? In a lot of cases, they look the same, right? Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Creating a versatile wardrobe, with the right piece for the right occasion is essential for getting by, for most of us.

Let's take a look at the types of coats and figure out which ones go where, so we can dress confidently and own the room we're in.

Sport Coat Vs. Blazer Vs. Suit Coat Vs. Tuxedo Jacket

In brief, the basic difference between a sport coat, a suit coat, and a blazer is in what they're worn with, patterns, and fabric.

A sport coat is a jacket with a pattern that coordinates with the trousers worn, but isn't of the same pattern or fabric.

A blazer is a jacket of a solid color with buttons that contrast to the trousers.

suit coat, meanwhile, has a matching set of pants in the same fabric/color/pattern as the coat.

Sport Coats

Sport coats are a 19th century term, which referred toward outdoor sports, such as hunting or fishing. A sport coat is a great option for professional dress in a casual setting.

A sport coat is made using a patterned cloth, unlike a blazer, which is a solid color. This type of jacket is made for versatility, useful in a variety of settings, and can be worn with or without a tie.


Blazers, in contrast to the sport coat, are solid color jackets with metal buttons. Buttons will, usually, feature some kind of nautical theme, due to the garment's history. Blazers were part of the British Royal Navy's standard uniform in the 19th century. The jacket is a perfect option for formal events, such as "black tie" events.

Suit Coats

In simple terms, the suit coat is the jacket worn with a matching suit. The trousers will match, both in fabric and in color or pattern. In most situations a suit coat will not be worn as a sport coat. Similarly, suit coats that feature a pattern, even a subtle one, are not worn as a blazer, as the blazer is solid.

Suit coats are a form of formal daywear, while the final entry in the list is formal eveningwear.

Dinner Jacket/Tuxedo Jacket

These two terms are the difference between American English and UK English, but are the same garment. The Tuxedo jacket or dinner jacket are the ultimate in formal wear for a black tie event, and will include the entire coordinating set. Tuxedo jackets will include a shawl color, usually of satin, with a matching stripe of the same material down the leg of the pants.

Tuxedo jackets typically have three types of lapels.

  1. The Notch
  2. The Peak
  3. The Shawl

The most common of the three is the shawl.

Need an example garment to look at? You'll find three options below.

Dinner Jacket

Tuxedo Jacket

Suit Jacket

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