The sports jacket – so called because of being traditionally worn in Britain for sporting pursuits such as shooting and hunting, is a timeless piece in a gentleman’s wardrobe. You can wear it casually or dress it up, and it has both form and function; keeping you warm but also looking your best. So, if you’ve never owned one before…what should you be looking for in this most gentlemanly of garments?

The look

A two-button wool sports jacket, by Gant

Of course, the first thing to take in account is how a jacket looks. Okay…this sounds obvious…but there are some things to bear in mind.

  • What’s my budget? Being realistic about what you can afford is important. Are you after something on the high-street, or can you afford to have something tailor-made? My advice is that it’s better to save for something decent; that looks and feels good. Don’t be tempted to buy a lot of cheap jackets that don’t fit well and that you will be less likely to wear…..
  • Shop around. Personally I would say don’t go for the first one you try, unless there’s a really good reason to do so. Do a bit of research and find some brands that you like…
  • Visit independent gentleman’s outfitters where possible. This is where you get the best advice and service, and I will always pay a bit more for this. Not all jackets are the same and, again, I would pay a more for one that I’ve tried, and that not only looks good, but feels right, rather than ordering something cheaper; for example, online.
  • How do I like the cut? When you try a jacket, just pay a bit of attention to the waist area. As with suits, some are more closely ‘fitted’ in this area than others. I also like to check the shoulder area and make sure this fits well. Ultimately, does it compliment your physique?
  • When/where am I going to wear it? Have a look at the different patterns. For example, a thick herring-bone tweed is more of a ‘country’ look, whilst something plain can look more formal. Ultimately this is down to personal taste and circumstance, but worth thinking about.

Okay, so the look is important but if you’re going to be parted with your hard-earned cash, it’s a good idea to look a bit further so you know what you’re getting.

What is it made of?

Check the label. For the outer part of the jacket, I look for natural fibres – wool, cotton and linen are all natural, whilst polyester and nylon are man-made. Man-made fibres are generally cheaper to produce. Some jackets will be a blend of more than one fibre.

If I’m after a good quality jacket, maybe for those colder months, I look for 100% wool. If it’s a summer jacket, I tend to go for linen, cotton or a mix of cotton, linen and/or wool. Linen is ideal as it’s light and breathes.

The lining is a different matter. Many linings are man-made…even in some higher priced jackets. In some of the jackets I have, the lining is made from viscose which comes from natural sources, but has been processed to imitate silk.

How is it made?

What’s the process? This might be a bit technical but if you’re spending a significant amount, it’s a question you might want to ask. Is it machined in a factory or hand-stitched? Many of the cheaper jackets that you see in high street chain shops are mass-produced in a factory.

A hand-stitched garment would likely still have machining as part of the process but it has been given more attention to detail and will generally be of a better construction and fit.

Does more expensive mean better quality?

Not necessarily. With many things, sometimes you are paying more for the brand name than for the quality of the item. If going for a big name, see my previous advice, and check the label!

Also, charity shops can be great places to look for jackets. I’ve found some really good quality ones and paid less than I would for a mass produced, high-street one. My best advice is to get to know some of the names of good quality menswear. My personal favourite at the moment is Magee (no affiliation). Their jackets aren’t cheap but the quality seems to match the price tag.

A great charity shop find! A herring-bone, wool jacket by Pakeman Catto & Carter.

Are you a fan of the sports jacket and have some advice you would like to share? I’m always after constructive feedback, so please leave a comment. 🙂 If you liked this post, please like, share and subscribe.

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