How to choose a fall sportcoat (the complete guide)
Each September, there is inevitably a morning that’s noticeably cooler and crisper than any that had preceded it; a clear sign of fall. However, the afternoons can feel more like summer here in Colorado. Therefore, a lightweight jacket can be quite practical. So, in this article we’re going to provide some guidance on how to buy a fall sportcoat that is both versatile and contemporary. Something for use both in and out of the office.
Is this the year that you decide it’s finally time to update your fall style with a new jacket? Here’s what you need to know to shop smart.
(Updated fall/winter 2023)
Step 1: Decide on the jacket cloth
Do you want a casual sportcoat or one that’s a little more refined and more appropriate for a dressy office?
On one end of the spectrum is a casual and thick textured fabric. On the other, a very fine and clean looking cloth. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot of versatility.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
Casual and textured
In the image below, we have some very textural fabrics. Without even physically holding a swatch of the fabric, I bet you have an idea for what it’s going to feel like, don’t you? Cozy as a blanket, these are somewhat casual picks. They will also complement other textural fabrics nicely. For instance, a sportcoat made out of one of these fabrics will pair nicely with a thin merino wool sweater and dark denim jeans.
On the other hand, we have a more refined cloth, like in the photo below. It isn’t as textural like the option above. Instead, it’s very dressed up with smooth, clean lines. And the blue plaid pattern is subtle yet much defined because of the fidelity of the fabric.
Here are a few more examples of fabrics that would make for a dressy looking sportcoat:
Another way that a fall cloth can be dressier looking is when it has a subtle sheen, such as this dark green fabric.
It should be noted that when the cloth has a sleek finish, at least compared to a thicker option, it can be made into a full suit, per the above image.
So what’s the difference in how you might wear these three jackets? With the brown jacket, you need to be careful that if you want to pair it with denim, that you wear your best jeans, free of holes or fades, and no fuzz. And if you opt for a nice pair of slacks, you’d be dressy enough for just about anything.
With the more casual sportcoat, you have a little more margin on the pants. You can wear something a little more rustic and rough around the edges, if you choose. Of course, this isn’t to say that you couldn’t dress it up with a crisp white shirt and pocket square.
Whereas, the green plaid jacket/suit would be a great option for a fall or winter evening event, due to it being a darker color.
Step 2: Construction and fit considerations
You may recall that with summer sportcoats, we like to suggest an unstructured coat to help keep you cool.
So then, how to buy a fall sportcoat in the right construction? I think you have more wiggle room for this type of seasonal jacket. If you want to keep the jacket lighter and more breathable, then by all means, go with a half-lining build, and when it gets a little too chilly, you can layer up with a sweater.
On the other hand, if you want the best looking drape possible in your coat, then you’ll want to build your fall sportcoat with a full canvas construction and full lining coverage.
[Need a refresher on our suit construction – read this]
About the fit
Finally, it’s wise to consider what you’ll wear under your fall sportcoat because it can impact the overall fit. Whereas with summer jackets and most suits you’ll probably only wear a think dress shirt or maybe even a T-shirt underneath the jacket. But for a fall coat, you might be more likely to wear a sweater or heavier dress shirt. Therefore, you might want just a little roomier fit.
It won’t end up being much, but an additional quarter to a half inch in the shoulder measurement, and maybe around the coat where it buttons, can make for a comfortable jacket when wearing heavier shirts and sweaters.
Step 3: Overall coat style (single breasted and two or one button front)
Jackets can be single breasted or double breasted. Given that a sportcoat is inherently casual (i.e. sporty), we recommend a single breasted jacket style.
Which brings us to buttons.
Your options are one, two and three buttons on the jacket front. But for a modern look, you’ll want to go with either one or two.
For a versatile jacket, we recommend a two button front and here’s why: a fall sportcoat is inherently a practical item. A one button coat is very trendy and errs on the side of a cocktail jacket (i.e. sophisticated). This can be a great look with the right fabric, but for an all-around versatile jacket, a two button front will carry you through your daily meetings and into date night with ease.
Step 4: Choose some fun details for your fall jacket
There are some notable details that really shine in a fall sportcoat.
First, the fabric beneath the lapel. You probably never even gave it much thought, did you? Here’s why I think it’s a fun thing to customize. Because sportcoats are still coats, they keep you warm. And the transitional season of fall here in Colorado can bring with it relatively warm mornings and chilly evenings.
So, when the wind kicks up and gives you a chill, pop the lapel and throw on a scarf and gloves. With the lapel up you have a chance to show the world that you thought of everything by choosing a color that refers back to the rest of the jacket, perhaps even an accent button stitching.
Secondly, you can add a theater ticket pocket. It’s the third pocket that you sometimes see on a suit jacket just above the typical side pockets. Historically, gentlemen would keep their, you guessed it, theater tickets inside that pocket. Since fall is the time of year when we start spending more time indoors and looking for things to do away from the cooling weather, we think a ticket pocket is a nice touch.
How to buy a fall sportcoat: wrap up
So, there you have it. Our tips on how to buy a fall sportcoat that is both modern and versatile, whether you’re wearing it to the office or out apple picking.
Please note that the key point we want to get across is that sportcoats are downright useful this time of year. They can keep you warm and seamlessly take you from your walk to the office right into your first meeting of the day. Plus, a fine woolen jacket is just going to feel great to wear.
As always, let us know if you have any questions, we’re always here to help!