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Style Substitute: Jackets

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Style Substitute is a series that will show you how replacing just one item in your outfit can have such a large impact on the rest of your appearance. I know that most won’t have the time or resources to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe, so I’m going to start off one piece at a time.

A weird trend I’ve been noticing everywhere is topping off an office attire with a casual, sporty jacket (I am differentiating this from a”sports jacket” AKA “sports coat”, which is perfectly fine and will be discussed later) . This looks strange and has no place in a proper workplace. It’s like people are thinking “Oh I’m going to look uptight looking formal so I have to spice it up and look hip with a Nike windbreaker!”

What the hell?

I don’t even have to explain in-depth why this is a terrible look. It’s a walking contradiction. It’s akin to wearing sweatpants with a shirt and tie (I hope I’m not giving you any ideas) or wearing dress shoes while going to the gym.

Substitutes 

1) Cardigan

The cardigan has a rich and illustrious history. Unfairly labelled as clothing your grandpa would wear, a proper fitting cardigan can be an excellent business casual outfit: A step-up from a casual jacket, but not as intimidating as a blazer.

A cardigan can be dressed up with a shirt and tie or dressed down with a t-shirt. It’s one of the more versatile jackets one can find.

2) Blazer / Sports Coat

There are many who think that the difference between a blazer and a sports coat is worth arguing. I’m not one of those guys. A blazer/sports coat is a jacket similar to a suit jacket. The difference is that they aren’t meant to be worn as part of a suit, and thus have no matching trousers. Most will have different colored buttons or casually styled pockets, a dead giveaway that it isn’t meant to be part of a suit.

A blazer or a sports coat is an excellent way to look more professional, especially here in the Philippines where these are reserved for weddings, proms, and CEOs. If you don’t want to look too intimidating, you can opt to forgo the traditional navy blue or black and go for light blue or medium gray.

The key thing about wearing a blazer or a sports coat is that there should be contrast between the pants and the jacket. Keeping them too close to each other in terms of color makes it seem like you’re trying to make it look like a suit — which you’re not supposed to do.

In terms of material, I’d lean towards a cotton / linen blend, as opposed to a mostly polyester jacket. This is because of cotton and linen’s breath-ability compared to polyester. Cotton and linen are also low maintenance. They’re meant to look a little wrinkled, and they still look damn good. If your workplace allows track jackets, it’ll allow wrinkled cotton jackets.

Three blazers / sports coats. Note the contrasting buttons which characterize a blazer, not a suit jacket. Also note the clear contrast between the jacket and pants. Also look at the guy in the middle. He still looks extremely casual while looking neat and put together. That’s what a blazer will do for you.

“Can I also wear a suit jacket as a make-shift blazer?” Yes you may, as long as — again — you don’t try to match the colors of your pants to your jacket. Unless of course, you’ve decided to wear the matching pants. The most classic combos are a navy suit jacket and grey / khaki pants.

 

 

Do you have any other substitutes for the track jackets people wear on top of dress shirts? Hit the comments below!