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What is a Sports Jacket?


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#1 Sator

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 11:09 PM

I was particularly struck by this line in GRM Devereaux's book, Etiquette for Men (London, 1929):



Notice that he talks about sport jackets AND lounge coats. By the latter, he clearly indicates that he specifically means an ODD lounge coat. That is to say: an odd lounge coat and a sports jacket are two different garments.

This is by no means unique to Devereaux. The same usage can be found elsewhere amongst other authors. Here Wife and Bridgland in 1949 do the same thing in talking about sports jackets and lounge styled jackets as separate types of garments:



Here H.J. Weatherall of Bailey & Weatherall, Savile Row writes:



The sort of garment he describes as having pivot sleeves, darted backs, Raglan shoulders and tab-collars hardly qualifies as an odd lounge jacket. It is abundantly clear that by "sports jacket" he means garments such as Norfolk jackets and the like. Obviously, garments such as riding/hacking jackets, and safari jackets were intended as sports wear and so qualify as "sports jackets".

The widespread use of the expression "sports jacket/coat" to denote an odd lounge jacket appears to be an Americanism. In the following text, Bert Bacharach in Right Dress - Success Through Better Grooming, New York 1955 describes a "sports coat" as being differentiated only by having patch pockets, ticket pocket but suggests that it is otherwise identical in cut to a lounge jacket ('suit jacket' in American English):



Notice too the Americanism of talking about reefer jackets as "blazers", wheras Whife in the 1950-60s clearly calls double breasted odd jackets as being "reefers" and calls brightly coloured or striped single breasted jackets "blazers".

With that I would conclude that in British English an odd lounge jacket and a sports coat are different garments. The use of the term "sports coat/jacket" to denote an odd lounge coat is an Americanism.

#2 jcsprowls

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 12:22 AM

intended as sports wear and so qualify as "sports jackets"

I particularly agree with this and would love if we could return to a simpler definition.

However, the wholesale sector uses the term 'sportscoat' or 'sports jacket' in the same sense as 'blazer' or 'odd coat'. There is a minor distinction within the rag trade, though. Sportswear, traditionally, has not broken beyond the better pricepoint, blazers sometimes can. Construction techniques for sportswear is typically fused with the higher-end items having a chestpiece.
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#3 NJS

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 07:13 AM

I think that "sports' coat/jacket" is a pretty usual Britiah term now for almost any country 'jacket'. I thought that the American version was 'sport' coat ie singular. Most actual sporting coats/jackets have specific names - eg: shooting; Norfolk, hunting, hacking.
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#4 Sator

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 11:41 AM

Bacharach curiously uses the term "sports shirts", and "sports suit" to indicate shirts and lounge suits made to be worn casually. Presumably he means in casual fabrics. It seems Americans call anything that is a country style garment a "sports" garment. I am sure "sport" singular is just an American variant.

The American influence is very pervasive due to media and the internet, so a lot of Americanisms including calling the expression "blazer" to denote a reefer has caught on. The result is that the British variants are in danger of slowly disappearing. An increasing numbers of Brits call dinner jackets a "tux" shok.gif

#5 NJS

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 12:12 PM

"Tux" - those who don't say "Cowes' coat" - but they probably sank on the Titanic and left widows, such as the former Miss Willing (then recently Mrs Astor) to become, a little later on, Lady Ribblesdale...
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#6 Sator

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 01:45 PM

It is rather interesting to note how one reads of these people worrying terribly about their odd lounge jackets looking like an "orphaned suit jacket" - presumably as a result of the dog tacking a bite out of the trousers. What follows is endless Angst over how one can make the odd lounge jacket seem more appropriate to stand alone. One of the most obvious things that is overlooked is that perhaps the odd jacket might be made to look more like a sports jackets - a real sports jacket, not just an odd lounge jacket.

Things that make a coat more a sports coat include all of those things discussed here (and more): belted backs, flapped chest pockets, button-four closures, or even wholesale departures from lounge coat constructions such as body coat styled backs and Norfolk jackets. Hacking pockets and ticket pockets are also traditionally regarded to be purely sporting touches.

Still, you can have your Norfolk jacket made up as a suit with matching plus fours if you want, so you may still lose sleep worrying that your sports jacket will like an "orphaned Norfolk suit jacket". If so, see a psychiatrist. tongue.gif



#7 culverwood

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 07:21 PM

Sports Jacket meaning a lounge coat/jacket in tweed or similar material to be worn with non matching trousers is at least as old as the 50's as any school clothing list of the period will confirm.

I know this is something that you abhor Sator but words sometimes change their meaning over time so what was correct in the 20's may no longer be the accepted correct use of the word by the 60's.

#8 Sator

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 07:35 PM

I understand how mutable the names of garments are. One garment can have up to half a dozen different names. There is also the difference between what cutters call a garment and whatever fashionable name customers give to a garment. From a strict cutters point of view there is no difference in how an odd lounge jacket is drafted compared to the lounge jacket for a suit, so the tendency is to give them both the same name. I myself prefer the terms given to garments by cutters and dress historians to the fleeting, ever changing names fashion gives them. When you stop and question Fashion why certain names are given to garments there is no rhyme or reason behind it. Some people even call 3/4 length overcoats "jackets" these days.




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