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Sports Coat Or Blazer - A Must Have

April 24th, 2010

BLAZER OR SPORT COAT? Contrary to popular belief, they're not one and the same. The term blazer covers solid-colored jackets such as blue, black, camel or Masters green. The blazer is one of the most classic and versatile pieces of a man's wardrobe and can be worn with jeans, khakis or gray flannel trousers. It's equipped with brass buttons. Sport coats, or jackets, encompass just about everything else.

A GOOD FIT Few men can afford a custom-made jacket tailored to every inch of their bodies. So it's off the rack we go, and that's OK as long as you use a tailor for alterations. Though jackets are sized from a man's chest, they're built from the shoulders, and that's where a jacket should fit best. (A man's height determines whether he needs a regular, short or long jacket.) The shoulder's fit should be in proportion with your body, with generous armholes that allow you to wrap your arms around a trophy without lifting up the jacket. When buttoned, there should be enough room for a sweater or an extra five pounds.

TO THE TOUCH Fabrics to consider when buying a sport coat are winter, summer or 10 months. The latter is a jacket made from light, yet sturdy, wool in solids or classic menswear patterns suitable to wear 10 months of the year. It's a good buy if you have to wear a jacket now and then. Cashmeres and other wools lend themselves to great patterns--like glenplaid, houndstooth and checks--that are easy to layer with shirts and sweaters. Summer jackets usually are made from fine wool, which is lighter than cotton and is blended with fibers such as linen, silk or nylon.

THE LITTLE THINGS Details like lapel and collar width, pocket and button types define the latest styles. To play it safe, choose lapels with classic widths between three and four inches and with the tip of the lapel reaching about halfway between the collar and the shoulder. Pockets, too, should be kept simple. Vents, the slits on the back of the jacket, are meant for ease of movement. An "American" jacket has a single vent in the middle of the garment. The "British" has one at each hip. A ventless sport coat, that hugs the body, is called a "Continental" jacket. As for buttons: two-and three-button jackets are the norm these days.

THE FINER POINTS Why does one jacket cost $200 and another $3,000? It's the sum of the parts--better fabric, lining and buttons, a more intricate pattern and the amount of work done by hand. A designer's name adds value as well.