Blazers, sports coats and hacking coats: a tailored jacket style guide
Today, it’s all too easy to lump all tailored jackets into the same category. But, if you know your sartorial onions, then you’ll also know that’s a grievous over-simplification.
In reality, a tailored wardrobe consists of several complementary but subtly different kinds of jacket – many of which are growing trickier and trickier to find off-the-peg. But, thankfully, New & Lingwood is proud to be one of the last remaining bastions of timeless British outfitting, with an Autumn/Winter ’19 collection filled with handsome designs that demonstrate the subtle differences between one kind of jacket and another.
First up, the blazer. Today, we think of the navy blazer as the ubiquitous tailored jacket; elegant and versatile in serge or hopsack, finished with brass buttons. This blazer is an evolution of the Royal Navy’s reefer coats, but before the blazer found its way into military service, it was the sportswear of its day. Brightly coloured ‘blazing’ jackets were worn by university and college sports teams in Britain and America with increasing enthusiasm for bold stripes and contrasting details from the 1830s onwards, before a standardised navy blue blazer design was adopted as uniform by the Royal Navy in 1857.
Today, a double-breasted design in mid-weight high-twist cloth like our Yarmouth hopsack blazer is indispensable – the kind of jacket that will take you anywhere, at any time, paired with grey flannels, bright chinos, soft cords or crisp charcoal fresco trousers.
Next up is the sports coat. It differs from a blazer principally because both were reserved for different uses during the 19th and early 20th centuries. While the blazer was worn by sportsmen, a sports coat was the gentleman’s go-to choice for day-to-day wear, when a lounge suit or business suit wasn’t required. A winter sports jacket is usually cut in tweed or ‘jacketing’, fine wool or cashmere cloth made specifically to tailor into a jacket, rather than a suit. They’re commonly single-breasted, like our Horsley checked jacket, but can be double-breasted like this season’s camel Derwent jacket too. A good sports coat will feature a confidently patterned cloth, whether a windowpane, check or herringbone weave – see this season’s Longford or Croxdale designs.
Finally, a close cousin of the sports coat that you’ll also find in our collection is the hacking coat. The name is derived from its original role; a robust tweed jacket to wear riding or hacking through the countryside, favoured by the landed gentry. This season, our Bretby jacket is a contemporary take on the hacking coat; cut in a bold mustard coloured wool check woven in Ireland, trimmed with leather football buttons. Its waisted silhouette, and raked side pockets are both classic hacking jacket features; the slanted pockets are aesthetically pleasing first and foremost, but were originally cut this way for ease of access when leaning into your saddle on horseback.
So, perhaps the anatomy of the tailored jacket isn’t quite as simple as you think. Blazers, sports coats and hacking coats are all close cousins, but they’ve evolved over the past 200-years in uniquely different ways, responding subtly to the different requirements of a gentleman’s wardrobe. Thankfully, in our collection today, all of them are equally good fun to wear.