The Perfect Fit: Blazers and Sport Coats

by Beau Hayhoe  |  in Style Tips

Are you the type of guy who relishes the chance to dress casually? To slip off your jacket and roll up your sleeves? Well, we’ve got news for you.

You’ll likely have to throw on a stylish blazer at some point – and in today’s new entry in our ongoing The Perfect Fit series, we’ll tell you exactly how a blazer should fit.

It can be tough to get into the mindset of wearing a blazer for a special occasion or otherwise. And if you’re not a guy who wears a blazer on the regular, it can feel even more intimidating.

Perhaps blazers call to mind stuffy, old style and formality – think thick fabrics and poor fits. Or, wearing a blazer might not seem to fit your personal style. However, it can be done – if you know how a blazer should fit and choose the right fabrics.

If you focus on a blazer that fits well and feels great, it can feel as comfortable and natural as your favorite T-shirt. It’s all part of the Effortless Gent ethos of being comfortable with personal style that works for you.

If you don’t know where to start your search – or if you’re on the hunt for a new favorite blazer – we’ll give some ideas to get your shopping search started.

And now, with no further delay… onto the basics of how a blazer should fit.

So, How the Heck Should A Blazer Fit?

No matter your body type – tall and slender or short and athletic — you should focus on some key areas to find your ideal fit.

To know how a blazer should fit, it helps to know your measurements. Just like how a dress shirt should fit, need to know your sleeve length and your chest measurement from pit-to-pit. That way you don’t get too-long sleeves or a jacket that’s too wide for your shoulders.

Blazers, like suit jackets, are typically sized in increments based on chest size – 36 inches, 38 inches and so on. And they’re often also available in either Regular or Long sizing. For example, a blazer labeled “38L” features a 38-inch chest size with a longer fit.

Before we get too far ahead… let’s focus on the basic fit and feel of your blazer. Slim (or at least tailored) fits have been the name of the game in the menswear world for some time now.

That means you want a jacket that hugs your shoulders without being too constricting (similar to the dress shirt you might wear beneath it). Your ideal blazer will have a slightly tapered fit through the midsection.

There should be just a bit of pull to it when buttoned. But as is the case with a perfect-fitting dress shirt, you want a jacket that skims, not clings. Bonobos makes slim blazers with modern, tailored fits that still aren’t too tight.

The Perfect Fit: Blazers

I struggled for a while to find how a blazer should fit for me, but I think I might have nailed it with the slimmer-cut GANT Diamond G blazer. I wore it to a recent summer wedding – paired with classic khaki chinos and stylish dress shoes, of course).

The Perfect Fit: Blazers

Most blazers are cut slimmer to begin with these days, so you should be able to find one that features these key points of fit quite easily – like the GANT Diamond G blazer seen above.

Remember, just because bigger suits are on-trend on the runways doesn’t mean that same look works for every guy. You want tailored, clean and modern – just like the rest of your outfit.

That’s true whether you team your blazer with slim light wash denim and a crisp summer polo or a rugged chambray shirtdark denim and classic suede chukka boots in the fall and winter months. Great fit applies no matter what blazer you’re wearing.

Think Of It This Way

  • Blazers are cut slimmer these days – making it easier to get the perfect fit.
  • The right blazer should hug your shoulders and midsection while still providing room to move – knowing your measurements helps.
  • Whether you’re wearing a classic four-season navy blazer or a summer weight linen blazer, proper fit still applies.

What to Avoid

The pitfalls of a poorly fitting blazer are quite easy to spot. First, avoid jackets that are all-around too big. If the fit of the chest and shoulders are off or baggy, it leaves excess fabric hanging off your frame and creates a pretty sloppy look.

You also want to avoid blazers that are too long. Jackets should cover the seat of your trousers (or slightly less, if the jacket is particularly slim). If a jacket hangs lower than that, it’s not how a blazer should fit.

Length is something to watch out for when it comes to your jacket’s fit. Take the sleeves. The same rule of thumb for dress shirts applies to blazers – it should leave, at most, a half-inch of shirt cuff visible beyond the sleeve of your blazer. Any more than that means the blazer’s sleeves are too short.

And if you can’t see any shirt cuff at all? That’s too long – definitely not how a blazer should fit.

Conversely, it’s important to avoid jackets that are too tight. Even a man as gifted physically as Ryan Gosling knows this – his jacket fits slim, yet not overly tight.

The Perfect Fit: Blazers

If a sleeve is threatening to rip or a button is threatening to pop, your jacket is too tight. Avoid those mistakes and you’ll have a blazer that gives off a tailored, modern vibe – sans any jacket rips or lost buttons.

As with any item of clothing, it’s always best to go simple, clean and classic. Skip fabrics that feature too much polyester (either in the sleeves of the blazer or the body) and that feel stiff, starchy or shoddily made. The more of an investment you make, the higher quality you’ll get.

Of course, you’ll want to avoid wearing heavy fabrics in the summer or fabrics that are too light in the winter. A great happy medium? The Bonobos Unconstructed Italian Wool Blazer. But more on which blazers to buy in a second.

Think Of It This Way

  • Wearing an ill-fitting blazer – either too large or too small – detracts from the rest of your look.
  • Your blazer should cover the seat of your trousers – no more – with sleeves that leave about a half-inch of shirt cuff exposed.
  • Look for a jacket that’s slightly snug, yet not too tight – and certainly, not too large.
  • Avoid jackets made with low-quality, synthetic materials or too much polyester. Avoid fabrics that are seasonally out of place – too heavy or too light.

How Should I Wear My Blazer?

Some specific factors set the course in terms of styling. If you’re looking for the perfect blazer to wear during the summer or a great blazer to wear during the fall, it’s best to do two things.

1 – Buy a quality blazer in a crisp fabric and a neutral, yet stylish color.

2 – Make sure the fit is on point. That way, you can style your blazer any which way.

Take the Italian Navy Heather Wool Blazer from inimitable American menswear designer Todd Snyder. It’s made from a double-knit wool – a little toasty for summer – but it’s a great example of a wearable blazer the rest of the year.

In a classic navy color, you could wear a blazer like this with nearly anything. From a classic white Oxford and slim dark denim with leather chukka boots to an easygoing classic pocket tee and slim olive chinos. A navy blazer works wonders in your wardrobe.

It all starts with the two keys we discussed earlier – a sharp fit and quality fabric. The same crucial components come into play when styling a classic tweed blazer in the fall and winter. Look for a slim cut, quality fabrics, and neutral color. Bonus points for standout texture.

In the summer months, your styling can – and should – change accordingly. Breathable, breezier fabrics are the name of the game.

That’s where a breezy linen blazer from a brand like J. Crew is going to come in handy. Look for the same classic color and slimmer fit, but wear it with ease alongside slim off-white chinos and leather loafers.

Adding and subtracting layers through the seasons can be done easily, too. If your blazer is made of a wearable birdseye cotton, like the excellent Todd Snyder Sutton Black Label Blazer, it’s easy to style all year round.

Think Of It This Way

  • A crisp blazer in a multi-season weight and a neutral color works with all kinds of outfits.
  • The same rules of fit apply to lightweight summer blazers and heavier, cold-weather blazers.
  • As long as your blazer fits well, you can – and should – style it with your favorite menswear seasonable staples.

The Last Word

You’ve heard it before – if you start with the right fit, you can build an enviable Lean Wardrobe chock-full of stylish menswear essentials. Knowing how a blazer should fit and finding a great-fitting jacket should certainly be high on your list.

Look for crisp, neutral fabrics. And keep in mind that a modern fit breeds versatile wearability, no matter how often you toss on a blazer.

Established brands – from Todd Snyder to J. Crew to Bonobos – offer up excellent value for your investment. That, in turn, makes it easier to wear a stylish blazer throughout the year.

Start with the proper fit and go from there. With these tips you’ve got a heck of a stepping stone towards nailing the perfect fit.

What’s your favorite blazer in your closet right now? Do you have a favorite way to style it?