Expertise

Blazers, jackets and waistcoats: what’s the difference?

If you need something to wear over your outfit and you’re unsure whether a blazer, jacket or waistcoat is your best option, here’s when and how to wear them.
mens blazers and mens jacket; two models for moss bros

What are blazers, jackets and waistcoats? 

When it comes to layering, adding a blazer, jacket or waistcoat is one of the best options. You can put it on or take it off depending on the weather and it can seriously style up your outfit. If you’re looking to make a casual outfit smarter (or vice versa), you can easily change it with what you wear over the top.

Men’s blazers

Men’s blazers are sometimes thought of as a smarter style, but they can just as easily be casual wear too. It depends on how you style them and what you wear with them. Generally, a blazer looks a bit like a suit jacket but has a more casual cut and a more relaxed fit. You’ll usually find blazers are made out of less formal fabrics, too, making them as easy to wear with a t-shirt and jeans as a shirt, tie and chinos.

With a blazer, you can pair it with matching trousers for a more relaxed suit style or you can wear them with a more casual look. Because you can pick them up in different fits, cuts and colours, choosing one that’ll complement the rest of your outfit is easy. Cotton and linen blazers in lighter colours are a great choice for spring and summer, whereas wool or tweed in darker blends suits winter way more.

mens blazers and mens jacket; two models for moss bros

Men’s jackets

When it comes to men’s jackets, the possibilities are endless. You can go smart with a blazer or a suit jacket or you can keep it casual in a sports jacket, puffer jacket, leather jacket or bomber jacket. What you wear, how you style them and what you pair them with is totally up to you.

To style a men’s jacket, take a look at the rest of your outfit and think about where you’re headed, along with what the weather’s doing. Sometimes staying dry is the most important thing when it comes to choosing what jacket to wear! If the rest of your outfit is pretty casual, and you’re wearing jeans or combats, then it makes sense to wear a more casual jacket. If you’re dressing up for a date or an event, choose a smart jacket or a blazer.

Men’s waistcoats

mens waistcoats: model wearing moss bros waistcoat

A little like men’s jackets, waistcoats can be worn for casual or formal events. Traditionally, they make up part of a 3 piece suit adding an extra layer to this smart ensemble. They usually button up, have no sleeves and are designed to match the other parts of your suit, though sometimes they intentionally contrast too. However, waistcoats are actually standing out on their own a little more and making up their own 2 piece suit style without a jacket. Especially in the summer months for events like weddings and garden parties where you still want to look good but not get too hot.

Waistcoats are also more common in less formal settings now too, you’ll see them worn for dates, dinners and work where there’s a middle point between wanting to look like you made an effort but not going the whole way with a suit. Try a tweed waistcoat or a linen waistcoat for a more casual look, and experiment with lighter colours away from traditional navy and black. Waistcoats also come in different fits and cuts, so if you’re taller, or bigger, or you’ve tried one on before and haven’t been keen, try changing up the style you’re going for.

Are there other jacket styles out there?

mens jacket: man wearing a blue linen suit from moss bros

In short, there is definitely a lot of variety in men’s jacket styles. Even within a certain style, you’ll get different fabrics, fits and embellishments that totally change up the look. That’s why it’s usually worth trying stuff on, ideally with the type of outfit you’d wear it with, to get a feel for what actually suits you. You might just be surprised with some types of jacket or coat that you’d never have normally worn.

Formal events, like black tie dinners, for example, usually mean dinner jackets, dress jackets and tuxedo jackets in traditional colours. Less formal events might mean a more casual suit jacket in less traditional fabric. A shacket, bomber jacket or overshirt is a great layering choice if you’re going for a more casual look without resorting to a hoodie or a jumper. Sometimes you need a little extra.

In need of some men’s jacket ideas to update your look? Check out men’s jackets at Moss.