A Guide to Spring/Summer Sportcoats

June 1st, 2015

Sportcoats, like suits, have been around for ages. They’re a foundational element of classic menswear, and they’re not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. What a lot of guys don’t know is that traditionally a sport coat (or “blazer”) was meant as a casual item; a weekend alternative to the business suit that gentlemen wore throughout the workweek.

As dress codes have gradually became more and more casual over the past hundred years or so, the sportcoat hasn’t disappeared, it just changed shape. Today the perfect Spring/Summer jacket is lightweight, unlined, and unstructured (minimal shoulder padding and a thin flexible canvas).

In the hopes of inspiring gentlemen to re-introduce some tailored goods into their casual wardrobes, here are my recommendations for go-to Spring/Summer sportcoats.

As always, feel free to use the comment section to ask more specific questions or share insights from your personal experience. What is your go-to sport jacket?

The Navy Hopsack


Every man who appreciates being well-dressed should own at least one navy sport coat. It’s an American classic that is as timeless as it is versatile. This one, cut from wool hopsack, is designed with patch pockets and gun metal buttons in place of the uber-traditional and uber-preppy gold crests.

Recommended with: just about anything, really.

The Tropical Houndstooth


A houndstooth pattern (with or without a windowpane overlay) in a tropical weight wool (like this 8oz “high-twist”) is the perfect Spring/Summer equivalent to the tweed sportcoat that you wear throughout the Fall & Winter. This one has triple patch pockets and one colored buttonhole to draw out the light blue of the check.

Recommended with: a chambray shirt, navy chinos, wingtip brogues.

The Bold Chino


Every once in a while, when you’re feeling bold, it’s time to break out some strong color. The best fabric for this is a chino cotton because it holds rich dyes and gives you that matte, slightly rumpled look. I like saturated sunny colors like a golden mustard or this deep tangerine.

Recommended with: a white linen shirt, stone grey chinos, burgundy tassel loafers.

The Country Clubber


For the prep set, there’s nothing more New England than a plaid sportcoat. It’s a classic American style that screams old money, but with a trim cut and a more muted color palette (like this navy and grey) it can also be hip, young and cool (depending on your styling decisions, or course).

Recommended with: a light colored oxford shirt, dark linen trousers and a lot of attitude (maybe a tilted panama hat and slick pair of shades).

The Summer Tweed


Ok, so maybe this is the perfect lightweight equivalent to your go-to tweed jacket. “Summer Tweed” has a similar beefy texture to thick woolens, but the silk/linen blend wicks away moisture and breathes much better (especially without a lining or shoulder padding).

Recommended with: a lightweight cashmere sweater, washed jeans, chelsea boots.

The Sexier Seersucker


Whipcord is the younger, cooler, more rebellious cousin of seersucker. It’s similar in texture, only the “wales” (or vertical “ribs”) are much narrower and tighter. It makes the fabric more consistent in color (a perfect neutral) and slightly less “waspy”.

Recommended with: a madras shirt, colored chinos (dark and saturated colors over bright pastels), Weejun loafers.

The Continental


For the ballsier crowd looking for more of a show-stopper piece, there’s the European inspired double-breasted windowpane jacket with mother of pearl buttons. This is not a man’s first sport coat, and he’s likely wearing it to let you know that.

Recommended with: a strong tie-less collar, white jeans, chestnut suede loafers.

The All-Nighter


For the nightlife crowd, a charcoal grey linen is perfect for partying long into the wee hours of the morning. This one has a minimalist design to mimic the simplicity and sexiness of a dinner jacket – one button front, single button cuff, and double besom pockets.

Recommended with: a black t-shirt, black jeans, sleek black loafers and a stiff drink.

Thanks, as always, for reading. 

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Shop Custom Menswear Made in America


Take me to the Shop

  • http://Keyboardandcompass.com/ Jeff McAllister

    Great colour-play here with the backgrounds.

    “This is not a man’s first sport coat, and he’s likely wearing it to let you know that.” – is one hell of a line as well.

  • mligon

    Been wearing an indigo navy hopsack jacket from the label Original Max’s Garments which I picked up for $30 at Winners here in Canada. Not quite a sport-coat but it sort of wears like one when I button the middle button. It’s a versatile item I can wear with a button-down collar shirt, or just a tshirt and jeans. One of my fave clothing purchases this year.


    • TO

      Dope piece! Where is the Winners you found that at? Surprised to a Chinese brand sold there (I even worked there once).

      • mligon

        Got it at a Winners in Mississauga. Been to a other locations since then but only saw it at one other location.

        ps. i posted a longer reply a day or two ago but seems to have not shown up here – thought it was in pending approval stage but not sure if it got deleted or something.

  • http://ledebonnaire.tumblr.com/ Juan Zara

    Not to sound like the obnoxious, WASPy, Ivy-League New Englander all the “cool cats” are trying to avoid being (since I’m possibly the farthest I could be from this definition, i.e I’m neither from New England, nor an Anglo-Saxon, nor a Protestant, and definitely not an Ivy-Leaguer, as much as I’d like to,) but what has worked best for me the past few summers is an old, less sexy and not-at-all rebellious seersucker jacket.

    It is, in my opinion and BY FAR, the most incredibly light and cool fabric in menswear. Lighter and softer than linen and only surpassed by tropical wool (in a hopsack weave) in terms of comfort. I don’t own a whipcord jacket, but it’s technically a F/W fabric, and I actually do own a few pairs of whipcord trousers that have served me well in cold weather. I would advise against wearing it in sultry, hot weather.

    Loving the white mother of pearl buttons on the orange 3/2 roll and the double-breasted, which are definitely my favorites in this post.

    On a side note, every time I read “summer tweed” I can’t help but start singing “… makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”

  • LarsBrown.

    Top article, Dan. The sportcoat is my favourite item in the wardrobe, I don’t think a gentleman can have enough of them.

  • TO

    You know this is my favourite new feature on the site– another killer guide! These sportcoats are all lust-worthy. So many good insights, I love the explanation for the minimal design details= sexy on the “all nighter”, for example. What about a summer ‘tweed’ round-up post now that you have intro’ed three variations with the two here (and going back to Angel’s post for the third)?

    My go-to for S/S for the past couple years has been a vintage navy 2/3 roll deconstructed and unlined cotton/linen number with patch pockets, but with a high collar and wider lapels it sometimes wears a bit ‘formal’; I’m look forward to wearing the more versatile bespoke navy hopsack number I’ll be adding this summer! Gotta start with #1 on the list and hopefully with build a similar line-up to the one shown here, eventually!

  • Harrison Krupnick

    Nice post. Love the “recommended with” feature.

  • JoeFromTexas

    So, I’ve always wondered why some unlined (or partial lined coats) have the lining at the top of the shoulders in the back while some don’t? Is there a functional difference? a comfort difference?

    Also, must a coat have sleeve lining? Can it be removed? Does it make a difference structurally? comfort-wise? coolness/airflow-wise?

    • tommyjohn_45

      Good question regarding sleeve lining. I have a few jackets where it drives me nuts and would love to remove it, if I knew it wouldn’t ruin the piece itself.

    • http://ledebonnaire.tumblr.com/ Juan Zara

      I strongly advise against removing sleeve lining (or even shoulder and vent linings for that matter.)

      The lining is there to make it easier (read: more comfortable, not less,) for you to put on and take off the jacket, and in the case of sleeve lining, to move in the jacket, especially if you like a trimmer sleeve. The high armholes notably present on a well-fitting jacket would make it nearly impossible for you to put on said jacket without messing up or bunching up your shirt. Unless you get a completely unlined jacket and wear it with just short-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, which is crazy, so don’t.

      Same thing goes for shoulder lining and the little piece of lining that a good half or quarter-lined jacket should have covering the rear vent(s). They’re there to reduce the friction that would occur between your shirt’s (or whatever you’re wearing) and your jacket’s fabrics when you put the latter on or take it off, making it all more comfortable and easier. Besides, high quality cellulose-based fabrics such as cupro are specifically engineered to breathe well, so there wouldn’t be a substantial difference in coolness.

      • JoeFromTexas

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I suppose this begs a followup question (and maybe the question I should have asked). The first jacket does not have the shoulder lining, while all the others do. I’m curious what a tailor/manufacturer is considering when they decide whether to add that lining or not, given they want a summer coat. Is the first jacket above (the navy one) more difficult to put on and take off, is it less comfortable, etc.?

        • http://ledebonnaire.tumblr.com/ Juan Zara

          Hey Joe,

          A tailor/manufacturer will most likely attach a piece of shoulder lining even on their unlined, coolest and most summer-y jackets, unless the client specifically asks for it to be removed. It might be a bit shorter if they want a really “airy” jacket, but it’s always going to be there.
          The shoulder lining is there for the same reason the sleeve lining is there, and that is to make it easier to put on and take off the jacket.

          For instance, imagine putting on or taking off a cardigan or denim jacket (which usually comes unlined). 99% of the time, the fabric from the cardigan/denim jacket “catches on” to the fabric of your shirt, both at the shoulders and sleeves, and you have to, at the very least, pull up your shirt’s collar and pull down your sleeves/make sure the cuffs are sitting correctly. That’s what putting on a jacket without a shoulder lining feels like, at least in my experience. And the same goes for taking it off.

          I haven’t actually touched the navy jacket above, so I can’t really speak to how difficult it is to put on or take off, I’m just saying there’s an obsession with “lightweight, unconstructed, unlined, unpadded, uncanvassed” recently.
          It is, after all, a coat. A layer that goes on top of something else and therefore should be skipped altogether on a sweltering day, when the priority is staying cool and dry (despite what some purists might say). On any other day, a paper thin piece of lining on the shoulders isn’t going to make that much of a difference.

          • JoeFromTexas

            Thanks for the insight. This is something I’ve wondered about for a while.

  • Arch

    Dan – where is that Navy Hopsack blazer from? Have been trying to find one without breaking the bank.

    • TO

      His is from Micahel Andrews Bespoke. Somewhere that wouldn’t break the bank as much is Suitsupply- they should have at least one hopsack sportcoat in their spring/summer collection. At least they did last year, a navy number in their Washington Half model, and arguably one of the navy cotton Copenhagens which I believe would be considered a hopsack from my memory.

  • AdamE

    I have a lightweight cotton unlined unstructured navy blazer from Uniqlo that is my summer casual go to. I’m hoping to order a summer tweed suit shortly. Not sure what I’ll go with for colour or pattern, but I’ll see what they have for fabrics (probably a linen/wool blend…), but definitely unlined and unstructured…

    • TO

      On the budget note, since you mentioned Uniqlo, Muji (A Japanese store which has a new location in Toronto) has an awesome lineup of completely unlined and unstructured 100% linen sportcoats and trousers. Their linen products have already started to go on sale and the reg. price was only about $200CDN together for the suit! I picked up two suits and several trousers…

      • AdamE

        Nice, although I’ll probably be in NYC before I’m in Toronto next, so it might be Uniqlo that I stop at. Although the plan was to get the suit MTM…

        • TO

          Oh true. There’s Muji in NYC, but I guess that’s beside the point. It was more that your comment made me think of any potential budget-driven readers who may be taking inspiration from this article (especially the Canadian ones I can very much relate to!) and I wanted expand potential options for them from your inexpensive sportcoat example, with one of my own.

          • AdamE

            What’s their quality like (I find that Uniqlo is pretty good for the price point, certainly get better life out of Uniqlo pieces that i do from places like H & M or even most things from Banana Republic and the sort…)? I have heard of them, but never been in one of their stores.

            I’ll try to check them out while in NYC too.

            • TO

              I find that their quality is awesome. They are especially good for basics and have wonderful attention to detail and some impressive and innovative, yet always simple, design. More expensive than Uniqlo but you generally get better fabric selection (more natural fibres).

              For an example of their innovative designs, I got so sick of the generic sizing on socks (say size 9-12 when I’m 9.5, which would result w/ them always sliding around on my feet) that I was so glad when I found Muji’s 90degree angled ones, which stay ‘locked’ in more naturally to the shape of your foot/ankle and are sized to foot size ranges of only 3cm! This however is a counter-example to my “more natural fibres” general statement and my only qualm with the socks is that they are a material blend which I notice I sweat more in (I can be a foot sweater) than I would a pure wool sock.

          • Rajith Attapattu


  • Miguel

    I recently score a midnight blue Linen/Cotton sportcoat that is Unstructured and it looks a lot like the first jacket and it’s like you said Dan, you can pair with anything, jeans, dress shirt and trousers, Linen trousers, Henley and it always looks good.

    Thanks again for this type of articles, I’ve been trying to find more materials that are suit it for Summer and this just clarified my mind.

  • cam

    i have a linen houndstooth by gant rugger (seen below on sean) in blue and also in tan. great jacket and they go with everything.
    ive been wearing them out on the weekends (date nights mostly) with slim trousers, a henley tee and leather driving loafers. its a nice outfit imo that looks smart and clean without being too ‘try hard’. thanks for the post dan!

  • tommyjohn_45

    Great post! Been searching hard for some good summer tailored suits/sport coats. Really want to find a nice summer tweed/hopsack, but no luck yet. Loving that Tropical Houndstooth, also.

    I have to laugh, this is my third summer in Boston and last year I picked up the Country Clubber, in a classic Nantucket Red/Navy/Cream, as seen below. (not me in the image ;) )

    • LarsBrown.

      My man, that is a gorgeous jacket.

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