Wearing Non-Navy, Patch Pocket Sportcoats

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We love to wear sportcoats.  Suits definitely have their place, but we typically like to wear odd jackets and odd trousers just for the sake of being able to combine different colors and patterns. As most people know, the most versatile sportcoat is the navy one; it’s used as a grounding device to play with other pieces.  Numerous fashion blogs talk about the navy blazer, but we’re different.  We like classic clothes, but that doesn’t mean boring!  Instead of the expected #menswear spiel , we’re going to show you some cool NON-NAVY sportcoats that happen to feature one of our favorite details: patch pockets.

Non-Navy Patch Pocket Sportcoats

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In addition to the traditional navy blue blazer, you can see it offered in tan, red, and bright blue.

First off, let me just say that you shouldn’t feel restricted to navy sportcoats. Sure, they may be great for everyone (my DTLA outfit comes to mind) but I think that having them in other colors allow you to have much more fun with the outfit!   Just note that they aren’t a modern Pitti Uomo invention.  Colored sportcoats (and  even blazers with brass buttons) have always been around, not just in brown and grey but in burgundy and green! Most people think that saturated jackets were only worn as apart of a university or club, but that wasn’t the case; they were always offered along side the other traditional pieces. One era that embraced the ideaof colored jackets was the 1960s.  You can pick out bright blue ones, red ones, and a tan jacket among the patterned crowd.

 

Dark Brown (far left) and Slate Grey (far right) sportcoats.

If you’re worried about pulling off something saturated, don’t worry.  My advice would be to keep the trousers simple and solid.  Grey trousers work best, but you can also  use blue flannels or selvedge jeans to help you pull off a burgundy or green jacket.  Now color is one thing, but having patch pockets just adds another layer of awesomeness.

1930s burgundy blazer with patch pockets!

Patch pockets are much more casual than the typical flap pockets or even jetted (no flap, just slit) pockets because of their utilitarian nature.  There’s no flap and they can bulge if items are placed into them.  However, I think that they add great visual interest. The fact that they are literally patched on to the jacket is a cool detail that not many jackets have, especially not ones you can find at the mall.  Back in the 1920s-1960s, you could find sportcoats and even some suits that feature double patch pockets or even triple patch pockets, which feature a small patch pocket on the breast.

1950s sportcoats in colors; some have patch pockets!

If you have a business attire or a conservative approach, I would say to ditch the patch pockets.  You might turn a few manager’s heads if your navy blue work suit or blazer has patch pockets. If you have a creative job or if you already own quite a few jackets, I think that patch pockets are definitely the way to go! They are a natural partner for sportcoats, since they are a step down from a “stuffy suit” and are much more fun than regular jacket pockets.  Plus they seem like they’re just begging to have stuff put into them. Put your wallet and keys in them or even hands if you’re cold!  I have a nasty habit of putting my hands in my jacket pocket when I’m bored and patch pockets are great for them.

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Sportcoats with lower patch (with flap) pockets – J.Press 1978

Now that you understand our love of these pieces, here is us wearing them!  We went out for dinner recently and it just so happened that we were all wearing non-navy sportcoats with patch pockets!  I hope it helps you get some inspiration to branch out with the colors, fabrics, and details of your sportcoats.

Spencer – 1940’s Grey Flannel

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Spencer shows us the easy way to branch out of the typical blue blazer:  go grey.  Many fashion blogs talk about how the “blue blazer and grey trousers combo” is an easy look. It’s definitely true, but the reverse works just as well!  Spencer rocks his grey flannel jacket (with triple patch pockets) just with a pair or simple blue trousers.    It’s very simple and inoffensive, which allows him to play with other pieces in his outfit.

Note that I’ve highlighted the flannel nature of his jacket.  Typically, suits are made of smooth worsted wool. A true sportcoat would be made of something a bit more textured to set it apart from an orphaned suit jacket.  Flannel is one such fabric that you can go with for a sportcoat.  Its my go-to fabric when picking something warm and extra comfy

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Patch Pockets: just put your hands in them!

True to  Golden Era style,  Spencer wears a striped spearpoint shirt and boldly patterned silk tie; his crazy exploding pocket square also adds to the pattern mixing.  Note that the patch pocket helps draw attention to his pocket square.  Note that this particular pocket is quite large and slightly curved at the top.  It’s the small details that make it cool and very different to modern ones.  Much more interesting than a regular old grey jacket.

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1940’s Flannel Sportcoat from Roxy Deluxe Vintage, Custom Spearpoint Shirt from Natty Shirts, 1940’s tie from Joyride Vintage, 1940’s Suit Trousers, Vintage Johnston Murphy Captoes

Jay – 1970’s Light Brown Tweed

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After you have grey, brown is the next choice to go with for a sportcoat.  I’ve done brown before, like here and here but that’s typical “suited” style.  Jay’s outfit is much less sartorial that Spencer or I would normally do with a sportcoat.  However, it is still a very slick outfit that is perfect if you’ve got a bit more modern, “hipster” style. His jacket is from the 1970’s (look at the overly wide, sharp lapels and stiff shoulders) and is cut from a very rough tweed.  Super-fans will remember that Jay wore this to Friendsgiving two years ago!

Note that Jay is wearing selvedge jeans and a grey shirt and  there isn’t a tie or pocket square square in sight! In this particular outfit the sportcoat becomes an actual jacket, akin to a bomber or leather jacket. However, the tweed fabric, lapels, and  patch pockets set it apart from other layering pieces that you’d expect to be worn with jeans and boots.  In my opinion, you couldn’t repeat this look with a typical navy jacket and flap pockets.  At the very least you wouldn’t have the same vibe as that navy jacket would be too “dressy”.  These details add interest and versatility to the sportcoat, allowing him to transition it from being used with a tie to something super casual.

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Compare Jay’s pockets to Spencer’s.  Spencer’s are way larger!

  • 1970’s tweed jacket, Thrifted shirt, Selvedge Jeans from Uniqlo, Soho Collection Boots 

Ethan – 1960’s Burgundy Flannel

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Once you’ve gotten the typical grey and brown sportcoats, you might be stumped.  Sure you could go with patterns, but there’s something appealing about solid jackets that let you play with other pieces in the outfit.  So thats when you go with a splash of color, like I did!

Can you tell that I’ve really been digging ivy style?  This is practically the uniform of the mid 1960’s ivy:  blazer (with brass buttons), OCBD, flannels, and white socks and loafers.  However I ditch the expected navy blazer and instead went with some saturation with burgundy!

You might be tempted to wear navy blue trousers with this ensemble, but that would be a bad move.  Besides the obvious #murica vibes of red+white+blue, navy trousers wouldn’t work due to the dark saturated colors: it would be dark on dark!   Just look back on Spencer’s outfit.  Sure, he may be wearing grey and navy but his jacket is a lighter shade than his pants, which provides visual contrast.  In that same vein, my trousers are lighter than my jacket, which makes the combo work.  Contrast is key to combining pieces, even if they are solid.

I’d also like to take this time to again recommend pleated high rise trousers.  Having them in grey works with everything, from vintage casual to this simple ivy look.  I wear them all the time.

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Triple patch pockets with a great size!

This jacket is one of the coolest things that I’ve ever purchased.  It’s a burgundy 1960’s flannel ivy sack jacket (half lined, hook vent, 3-roll-2) and if that wasn’t enough, it has triple patch pockets and brass buttons.  It’s practically the vintage counterpart of this modern bespoke piece made by the great modern ivy tailor Yamamoto-San of Tailor Caid, just sans patch pockets:

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Take note that my jacket was made in the hey-day of ivy/collegiate inspired style.  It follows all the typical construction and detailing of a 60’s navy jacket, just in a fantastic burgundy color!  As I stated before, manufactures in “vintage times” simply cut sportcoats and blazers from a variety of colors.

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I will say that I’m not a fan of the super slim lapels.   It does make this jacket anchored in the early to mid 1960s (Mad Men!).  Larger lapels work better for classic look that could work well today or in the Golden Era!

Even though I have a 60’s jacket, I decided to go with something more 1930’s iin the details .  The striped OCBD is pretty ivy, but a true ivy look would have a striped tie or a solid knit, along with a straight TV pocket square.   Instead, I have a more “conservative” polka dot tie and an exploding pocket square, both of which are 1930’s styling cues.  

1960’s Burgundy Ivy Jacket from Roxy Deluxe Vintage, vintage OCBD (thrifted), 1940’s tie (eBay), Polo RL Flannel trousers (thrifted), black AE tassel loafers (eBay)

Conclusion

There’s definitely a great world out there apart from navy blazers!  A grey or brown sportcoat are natural supplements, but you can also have some fun with saturation like I did.  Even though the jackets here were solid colored (and not patterned  like most sportcoats), I still recommend using grounded, neutral pieces in order to pull off the outfit.  Navy blue pants are most people’s go-to, but I think grey is best! It’s the “most neutral” and it’ll go with any color sportcoat you go with: white, burgundy, or green.

Also, try to look out for jackets with patch pockets!  I know that they’re different than the usual flapped pockets or jetted pockets, but the casual (almost lazy) nature of this type of pocket is undoubtably cool.  This type of pocket combines utilitarian with cool tailored details.  Don’t be afraid to put your hands in them!  Jackets are meant to be worn.

I hope you enjoyed this article!  It’s my duty to try and push people to try new things as well as show off some of the cool vintage pieces that my friends and I own in our collection.  Perhaps one day designers and fashion houses will bring back large lapels, cool colors, and patch pockets so they can be as abundant as they were in the 1930s-1940s! Blazers and sportcoats with these details are a great way to spice up your wardrobe if you’ve already got all the (boring) essentials.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Ethan W. and David W. 

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