Blazer vs. Sport Coats

Blazer vs. Sport Coats
Q. What trousers should I wear with patterned black, blue, and brown blazers? I know you say not to wear blazers with the same color pants because they look like mismatched suits, but what goes with a blue blazer with a red pattern line, or a black blazer with blue and yellow window panes, or a brown tweed with tan dots?
A. I’m afraid that some of my color-coordinating and pattern-mixing guidelines have confused you. In addition, you are treating blazers and sports coats as the same. They are not. So, let’s start there.
Since the three jackets you described all have patterns (whether obvious or subtle), they are actually sports coats/jackets, rather than blazers. Blazers are rather dressy solid color jackets, either single- or double-breasted. The two types of jackets are treated differently:
  • Sports Coats/Jackets are usually patterned and somewhat casual. Typically, they are paired with solid trousers ranging from dress trousers, through chinos, to jeans. Using two different patterns for the top and bottom would be a jarring, unattractive look and should be avoided.
  • Solid Blazers are dressier. They are paired with either solid-color or patterned odd trousers in any suitable color that contrasts or coordinates with, but does not exactly match, the blazer.

Here are a few further “rules” to help you choose what to wear with your sports coats.


An important element of the well-dressed man’s look is how he uses color. One of the basic color rules is to repeat colors. When dressing in a jacket, trousers, shirt, and tie, at least two of the items should be in the same color family. Having established what that basic color is, you will want to repeat it somewhere else in your combination and be sure that none of your accessories clash with it. Another approach: “pick up” (repeat) either the main background color or one of the accent colors in the mix.


The well-dressed man does not match everything he wears. He often introduces notes of contrast for added interest. Your three jackets sound as though they could very nicely help you add this element to your wardrobe. You might choose trousers that are a lot lighter in color than your jackets, or you could introduce some unexpected accent color in the shirts, ties, or other accessories you select.

You might like to try a few of these combos with your three sports coats.

Navy jacket with a red pattern line works with most every solid shade of gray dress trousers, a white or light blue shirt, and a tie or pocket square with a red pattern.

Black jacket with blue and yellow window pane pattern looks good with beige trousers, a white shirt with a light yellow tie, or a blue shirt with a yellow-and-blue tie. Or, you might stay with two color families and wear the jacket with gray trousers, blue shirt, and blue-and-black tie.

Brown tweed with tan dots is more casual; it could match up with khaki pants, a white shirt, and a yellow sweater. A light brown tweed looks good with navy dress pants, or jeans, and an off-white turtleneck. Yellows, oranges, blues, and greens are all great accent colors with brown tweeds.


As you pointed out, when combining a jacket and trousers, do not pair up two matching (or near-matching) solid colors, such as a navy blazer and dark blue trousers, black or dark brown jacket with “odd trousers” in black or dark brown. Since they are not identical fabrics, they can never match exactly and, therefore, would indeed look like a mistaken, mismatched suit attempt.

Some popular color combinations are: navy blazer and gray flannel trousers; or for a bit of holiday flare, navy blazer and black-watch plaid dress trousers. Black blazers go well with traditional khakis or taupe dress slacks or perhaps with a sophisticated pattern such as a gray glen plaid.

Oddly, the only example I can think of where two dark colors work well together for top and bottom is a navy blazer with dark gray dress trousers. There seems to be no logic behind this except that well-dressed men have been doing it for years. The truth is, I have always preferred a mix of navy blazer and medium-gray or light-gray trousers, a navy blazer with khakis, or even a navy blazer with an unexpected pair of white jeans.

I’m sure you are going to look great!

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