uniqlo linen sport jacket(Editor’s note: Looking for Sportin’ In The Heat, part I? Here you go.)

Hey Gents,

Without a doubt, a khaki sport coat is the second most versatile jacket you could possibly own. Second only to a navy version, of course.

This is especially true in the warmer months, when you may want to wear lighter colors.

Navy’s great and all (and it’s pretty much always appropriate), but sometimes you just have to switch it up.

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what kind of jacket (or suit) to look for, where to find one, when to wear it, how to wear it, and what to wear it with.

Pretty straight-forward, right?

Here we go!

“Should I get a suit, or just a sport coat?”

That’s a good question. It totally depends on you and your needs. If you wear suits a majority of the week, have a few summer shindigs (parties, weddings, etc.) to attend, or just like the idea of owning a summer-appropriate suit, I’d pick up the suit.

That way, you’ll have it at your disposal when needed, and you can always break it up and wear them as separates.

If you don’t wear suits too often, don’t see yourself needing one in the near future, or are on a budget, just pick up a sport jacket.

“What kind of fabric is best?”

Typically, you’ll find khaki suits / sport jackets in a cotton or linen fabric. The key to a “cooler” experience, however, is to make sure the jacket is half-lined (lining half way down the back, fully lined in front panels), quarter-lined, or unlined.

unlined jacket Beckett & Robb

custom unlined jacket from Beckett & Robb

Having a fully-lined cotton or linen jacket somewhat defeats the purpose. You want these layers to feel light and airy, but lining adds heft (especially if a jacket is lined with the same material) and can trap heat. If you don’t like the lightness of unlined, go with a half-lined or quarter-lined version. You’ll thank me later.

(If you’re interested in learning more about unlined vs. lined jackets, check out my friend Antonio’s video here)

“When can I wear my khaki sport coat?”

This jacket is more appropriate for daytime wear, or generally casual situations. Realistically though, you can take it from daytime to evening time (assuming you’re not going to a formal black tie event) and no one will bat an eye.

“Where do I find a khaki sport coat?”

Here’s what I do when I’m casually browsing for a potential new _____________ (fill in the blank: “Khaki sport coat”, “navy suit”, “striped socks”, etc.), I use a site called shopstyle.com. You can search for anything, and ShopStyle will show you numerous options across different brands and price points.

Here are a few examples: Men’s khaki sport coat , Men’s navy suit , Men’s striped socks

From there, you can filter down by brand, price, color, size, etc. all on the left side of your browser window.

Pretty nifty, right?

Specific ones I recommend:

Uniqlo’s Linen Cotton Jacket First mentioned it here, and also happens to be the one I used in my examples below. They come in many colors, fit well, need minimal alterations (assuming you’re more or less a normal shape), and is unlined… perfect for summer.

LLBean signature Warren Chino Blazer I have the Plain Weave Blazer in Navy, which is a three-button version with a decent 3/2 roll. If I were making the purchase again, I’d probably try the Warren.

Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Sport Coat A more pricey, yet classic option. If you go with Brooks Brothers, you’re guaranteed to have this one for quite a while (especially if you take care of it.) The Fitzgerald Fit is BB’s version of a more modern cut (narrower lapels, higher armholes) without skewing too trendy.

“What do I wear with my khaki suit or sport coat?”

Easy! Khaki is sort of like white or navy, it goes with pretty much everything.

The key word here is CONTRAST. The last thing I want you to do is wear a khaki sport coat with khaki pants and a khaki hat and khaki-colored shoes… and socks… and underwear. Terrible.

Take note: The one thing I advise against is pairing it with another khaki. Even if you think you found a perfect match for your sport coat (“Oh hey! Now I have a suit!”), you most likely did not. Matching two things that weren’t made together (unlike an actual suit) is tough to do.

Anyway, here are four examples to get you started.

Khaki suit (the formal option)

If you’re attending a formal occasion, go with the suit option, and keep it simple. Light blue shirt, solid navy knit tie, brown wingtips. Super crisp and fresh.

I don’t cosign for black and white very often, but you could also do a white dress shirt, solid black knit tie, and black lace-ups, and if I saw you, I would give you a high five.

Casual option one

Since khaki is neutral, you want to bump up the contrast in your outfit. Dark denim would look great on the bottom. The light pink Oxford cloth button down complements the dark denim as well as the neutral khaki, and the olive desert boots look good with everything individually, as well as the outfit as a whole.

Casual option two

White denim also contrasts with the neutral khaki here, but instead of going dark (like with the dark denim) you’re doing the complete opposite. The indigo chambray looks great with the white denim (if you took off the jacket), but also looks good underneath the jacket. The grey driving shoes have a nice contrasting pop of color with the natural leather tassels, and look good against the white denim.

Casual option three

The most “daring” outfit of the bunch, kinda. Really, it’s just the bright chinos, but other than that, the outfit is quite muted… and this works out great, because the brightness of the chino plus the muted colors of everything else balances out.

That’s another thing to remember: When it comes to major elements in your outfit, one bright pop of color, max.

Alrighty, kids!

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully that gives you a bit more confidence if you were looking to add a khaki suit or sport jacket to your summer arsenal.

Questions, concerns, compliments? Would love to hear it in the comments below.


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20 Responses

  1. Juan José Mora on

    Thank you for the article, I am noticing that in general, jackets seem to be an integral part of an outfit. The page on which it shows suggestions based on prices is really good, since most jackets/blazers are on the $200+ range. I think Ill go with the UNICLO one.

    • Barron on

      The uniqlo one is, honestly, my favorite sport coat for the price. Keep in mind it’s unlined and lightweight, perfect for summer and traveling, but not so great for colder months / climes.

  2. JoshJensen on

    Dude, this is perfect. I just pulled the trigger on the jc penny’s slim fit Claiborne khaki suit on clearance and have been looking for some suggestions about how to make it work.

    How do you think it’d go with a mint-green shirt and gray tie?

    • Barron on

      nice, how does it fit off the rack? hope you’re taking it to a tailor 🙂

      a light mint green (not too vibrant) would look great with a charcoal tie, or a medium gray.

    • Andrew Kocsis on

      I too snagged the suit last week when it was on dirt cheap sale… I settled on the 38R and 34 inseam. I figured I can get the pants hemmed and hope I’m not sacrificing the fit in those somewhere else and I’m holding my breath that the 38R will work too- I figured at the crazy prize I got it, I could have the whole thing altered and even have the lining taken out and I’ll have a great suit for almost what it would cost at retail. Coupled with this article, I now know several ways to sport this look! Thanks for the help B!

  3. vibolp on

    I’ve been wanting to sport mine too. I got an all khaki suit jacket and pants. Now I know what exactly to wear it with. Thx.

  4. Gaz on

    See this all the time on the web – and often on models and pics posted by style bloggers. In the first pic, isn’t the jacket sleeves a tad too short? He’s showing at least an inch of shirt cuff.

    • Barron on

      It depends on the look you’re going for. Classic “rules” say 1/4″ – 1/2″ of shirt cuff should show. This is a slim cut suit, a bit more modern, and so they decided to style it with more cuff showing.

      Personally I prefer 1/2″ to 3/4″ showing. I like more cuff than most. But it’s up to you!

  5. blissing on

    What kind of hat would go with the formal khaki suit look? My fiance is wearing this look for our wedding in Vegas next month. He has a panama that looks too casual, also a straw fedora that looks too trendy.

        • Barron on

          If you’re not 100% on either choice, I’d probably go with no hat, only because it is your wedding, and you don’t want to look at photos 5, 10, 20 years down the road and think “Damn, I shouldn’t have worn that hat.”

          Early congrats, by the way. I’m getting married next month as well 🙂

  6. Tom on

    So money. SO money. You can spot me on the street because I will be sporting that blue pant option. Unfortunately the Dockers didn’t come in my length, and the only other places I could find that “electric” blue were Levi’s 514 where the waist looked a little too high and too jeansy for the look, and Bonobos which I decided to go with.

    These are great looks and I just wanted to thank you for taking the guess work out of wondering if a clothing item is versatile enough. Been wavering on a navy or grey blazer, but since it’s summer and I already own a bunch of suits, I’m going khaki thanks to this article.

  7. Gerry on

    I’m going to a wedding in Cancun Mexico(assuming ) on the beach, I’m wearing a light khaki jacket,what clot pant and shirt should I wear

  8. Silverpalm on

    One thing to be careful of is drab gray-green on the bottom. Also, if it’s a very yellow tan, it’s better to just avoid green.
    While it’s good to get bright colors that pop with tan, they shouldn’t clash with each other. It’s really easy to get carried away, but unlike grey, tan can’t cover up mismatches.
    Blue and tan is about as good as it gets. Just make sure the pants aren’t too light blue. But Navy pants, striped blue/white shirt, and a light blue tie, with or without a pattern, works fabulously.
    Also, although I might get criticised for it, I will insist that tie tack, clip, &/or cufflinks should be silver with tan.

    • Silverpalm on

      As far as hats go, tan is pretty forgiving. But the panama looks really good.
      Despite what was said above, even many tan hats can work with a tan jacket or suit.