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Full suit vs Trouser + Sportscoat

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

what are the pros and cons of both set ups? Is the full suit simply more formal? Yet, the sports coat and trouser can lead to more combinations with your wardrobe?

post #2 of 8
How little have you studied here? Depends entirely upon the occasion for which you are dressing.
post #3 of 8
Take a look at the discussion in this thread:

http://www.styleforum.net/t/328214/are-suits-the-better-choice-or-is-the-odd-jacket-trousers-and-tie-superior-i-think-the-latter-is-superior-noobish-thoughts-or-what

I work in a business casual environment, so simply showing up 1-2 days a week with a jacket and tie puts me pretty high on the well dressed list. As I see it, the advantages to suits are (i) formality when you need it, (ii) simplicity and elegance and (iii) not having to worry about pairing jackets and trousers. Odd jackets (i) look much better without a tie, (ii) give you more options to put together different looks and (iii) are nice to have when you simply want to throw on a jacket for the evening for a more put together look without being overly formal. More casual suits (glen plaid, linen, seersucker) tend to be in the middle, though I wouldn't wear most without a tie.
post #4 of 8

Neither is "Formal", in the way SF usually uses the term.

 

The modern business suit is exactly what it says on the tin - a garment for doing business in. Note here that this does not necessarily imply that you always have to wear one at work. I only have to wear a business suit when I have meetings with other managers or clients scheduled. However, in previous roles it's been expected that I'm suited 4 or 5 days of the week. First and foremost, wear whatever is appropriate to your business environment.

 

A Sports Coat is again, exactly what it says on the tin - it's for going to the horse races, yachting, game shooting or something similar. I wouldn't wear one in the office, even on a Friday. However, there are Odd Jackets that are not Sports Coats (although there's not so much a line as a graduation between the two - hacking pockets, patch pockets, strongly patterned or heavier warm material, and a riding cut are all general indicators towards Sportyness).

 

The odd jacket/trousers on the other hand is a casual daywear outfit - effectively the modern evolution of the Stroller. Note of course that "casual" does not mean it is not smart - there's no reason for casual to be a synonym of slovenly. In almost all workplace environments an odd combination is acceptable for a Friday (but check first to be certain it is - there are workplaces which expect business suits 5 days of the week). However, if meetings are scheduled on a Friday, wear a business suit. I can wear this on any non-meeting day (although I don't always).

 

 

 

Formalwear, in case you were wondering, means Morning Suit (Formal Daywear) or White Tie (Formal Eveningwear).

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post

Neither is "Formal", in the way SF usually uses the term.

Formalwear, in case you were wondering, means Morning Suit (Formal Daywear) or White Tie (Formal Eveningwear).

Yes, in the most technical and traditional sense, formal means a morning coat or white tie, semi-formal means black tie or a stroller and informal means jacket and tie. At least in the U.S., those terms simply don't mean what they used to. Nowadays in the U.S., people say black tie if they expect a tuxedo. Formal is going to mean suit and tie 95%+ of the time (or, gasp, something more casual). It's nice to know the history of the words, but the poor OP could end up wearing white tie to an event where everyone is in a suit if he read too much into your post. I believe OP said a suit is "more formal" than odd jacket and trouser combinations, which if he means formal as the opposite of casual, would be correct.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post


The modern business suit is exactly what it says on the tin - a garment for doing business in. Note here that this does not necessarily imply that you always have to wear one at work. I only have to wear a business suit when I have meetings with other managers or clients scheduled. However, in previous roles it's been expected that I'm suited 4 or 5 days of the week. First and foremost, wear whatever is appropriate to your business environment.

I mostly agree, though the suit has evolved into a garment of choice for some "formal" non-work events as the term is used now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post


A Sports Coat is again, exactly what it says on the tin - it's for going to the horse races, yachting, game shooting or something similar. I wouldn't wear one in the office, even on a Friday. However, there are Odd Jackets that are not Sports Coats (although there's not so much a line as a graduation between the two - hacking pockets, patch pockets, strongly patterned or heavier warm material, and a riding cut are all general indicators towards Sportyness).

The odd jacket/trousers on the other hand is a casual daywear outfit - effectively the modern evolution of the Stroller. Note of course that "casual" does not mean it is not smart - there's no reason for casual to be a synonym of slovenly. In almost all workplace environments an odd combination is acceptable for a Friday (but check first to be certain it is - there are workplaces which expect business suits 5 days of the week). However, if meetings are scheduled on a Friday, wear a business suit. I can wear this on any non-meeting day (although I don't always).

Well, most people aren't going to the horse races or shooting in their spare time. I'm assuming OP is using sport coat and odd jacket interchangeably and I don't think this is unfair for practical purposes (I'd maybe differentiate the navy blazer from other odd jackets but that's it). I'd agree that there are more casual odd jackets and there are odd jackets that are closer to a suit on the formality scale. I think the whole no odd jackets at night thing is pretty much dead in a world where fewer people wear a jacket of any kind. As far as wearing odd jackets in the office, it really depends on the dress code. In a business casual world, I can't image it would ever be an issue unless you were worried about standing out for being too formal. The demands of one's environment will have an effect on what one wears. Of course you should not wear an odd jacket and trousers if everyone around you is in, and expects you to be in, a suit. That's more situational awareness and understanding how to follow a dress code and doesn't really speak to the advantages or disadvantages of each garment.

I don't understand how the odd jacket / trousers look is the modern evolution of the stroller unless the suit is the modern morning coat in your analogy. I think it more realistic to say that the suit has taken on this role in addition to its traditional role.
post #6 of 8
Leach, you are starting to become annoying! About every time I want to make a point in a thread of interest, you've said it as well as I could, if not better.

At least in Southern California, there are very few occasions when a man in a sport coat and slacks is going to be underdressed except in some conservative business offices. The odd jacket/trouser combo is quite commonly seen even at funerals, perhaps regrettably.

When all is said and done, I think every man should have both. At minimum, I believe every man, regardless of his station in life, should have three items of dress apparel--the dark suit, the navy blazer and a heavier, earth-tone jacket in tweed, camel's hair or something similar. With those three items (and a couple of pairs of decent odd trousers) you can be well dressed for almost any occasion.

One advantage of the odd jacket is that you can skimp considerably on the trousers and still look great. I am fond of pairing my W.W. Chan odd jackets with worsted slacks from Costco or corduroys from L.L. Bean that cost around $50, and I like to think I can look pretty good so attired. Also, trousers wear out sooner, hence the not uncommon phenomenon of the "orphaned suit coat."
post #7 of 8

I agree with your first point. I was simply waking the observation as the original poster hasn't supplied us with the type of event he has in mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by archibaldleach View Post


Well, most people aren't going to the horse races or shooting in their spare time. I'm assuming OP is using sport coat and odd jacket interchangeably and I don't think this is unfair for practical purposes (I'd maybe differentiate the navy blazer from other odd jackets but that's it). I'd agree that there are more casual odd jackets and there are odd jackets that are closer to a suit on the formality scale. I think the whole no odd jackets at night thing is pretty much dead in a world where fewer people wear a jacket of any kind. As far as wearing odd jackets in the office, it really depends on the dress code. In a business casual world, I can't image it would ever be an issue unless you were worried about standing out for being too formal. The demands of one's environment will have an effect on what one wears. Of course you should not wear an odd jacket and trousers if everyone around you is in, and expects you to be in, a suit. That's more situational awareness and understanding how to follow a dress code and doesn't really speak to the advantages or disadvantages of each garment.

I don't understand how the odd jacket / trousers look is the modern evolution of the stroller unless the suit is the modern morning coat in your analogy. I think it more realistic to say that the suit has taken on this role in addition to its traditional role.

 

I think there is still definitely a difference between the Sports Coat and the Odd Jacket. Part of it is the difference between town & country; grey & blue vs green & brown.

 

There are no definitive rules, of course, but the division is still there, to a degree, if you spend enough time between the two locales. Or maybe just in England. Or just in Surrey.

 

 

 

 

Regarding the odd combination as the evolution of the stroller, it's not the role so much as the themes of contrast that late-era stroller fashion embraced and are a feature of the odd combination that I mean by evolution.

 

 

 

Thinking about it, it's interesting to note that as the shift in mens style towards a less formal mode has resulted in the obsolescence of the semi-formal Stroller for daywear (in favour of Morning Dress for anything even vaguely formal), but has largely gone in the other direction for eveningwear, with Black Tie almost eradicating White Tie.

 

While that has occurred, at lower levels of formality there is no longer much distinction between day and eveningwear. The "No odd jackets at night" rule is not quite dead - I wouldn't feel bad about continuing to wear it if I'd been out for the day, but I wouldn't deliberately dress in such for the evening - but it's definitely more a guideline than a rule now.

 

So I suppose, in that respect, I can see your point regarding the suit being acceptable semi-formal wear now.

 

I still wouldn't wear a light suit in the evening though. But that could just be me.

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post

I agree with your first point. I was simply waking the observation as the original poster hasn't supplied us with the type of event he has in mind.

I think there is still definitely a difference between the Sports Coat and the Odd Jacket. Part of it is the difference between town & country; grey & blue vs green & brown.

There are no definitive rules, of course, but the division is still there, to a degree, if you spend enough time between the two locales. Or maybe just in England. Or just in Surrey.

Regarding the odd combination as the evolution of the stroller, it's not the role so much as the themes of contrast that late-era stroller fashion embraced and are a feature of the odd combination that I mean by evolution.

Thinking about it, it's interesting to note that as the shift in mens style towards a less formal mode has resulted in the obsolescence of the semi-formal Stroller for daywear (in favour of Morning Dress for anything even vaguely formal), but has largely gone in the other direction for eveningwear, with Black Tie almost eradicating White Tie.

While that has occurred, at lower levels of formality there is no longer much distinction between day and eveningwear. The "No odd jackets at night" rule is not quite dead - I wouldn't feel bad about continuing to wear it if I'd been out for the day, but I wouldn't deliberately dress in such for the evening - but it's definitely more a guideline than a rule now.

So I suppose, in that respect, I can see your point regarding the suit being acceptable semi-formal wear now.

I still wouldn't wear a light suit in the evening though. But that could just be me.

All good points and some of the differences are probably more geographical / practical than conceptual. I suppose one could differentiate between odd jackets made of fabrics one would expect to see in the city vs. the country (the latter seem to be what you're calling sport coats). I think we could just be using different terminology, though I suspect the separation between city and country is much stronger in England than in the United States. Even in New York, I saw a fair amount of tweed.

I agree that black tie replacing white tie while the stroller died out leaving the morning coat is interesting. I recall reading somewhere (it may have been one of Manton's old articles) that at a time when the lounge suit was considered too informal for the office at times, the stroller filled that role and so became associated with something a clerk would wear. This obviously did not happen with the morning coat which was used for special occasions, so men ditched the stroller for the lounge suit. Meanwhile, white tie vs. black tie is simply men ditching the more difficult to deal with item of clothing.

With respect to the "no odd jackets at night" rule, this is coming from someone who lives in a place where trousers, OCBD and odd jacket with no tie would be considered dressed up most places one goes. Not true at special events of course but generally true for a trip to a nice bar or even dinner. I probably should have been more clear on context, but my point was more that it's tough to worry about odd jackets at night when most people aren't wearing a jacket of any kind.

I think I get your point on the stroller now. You weren't referring to formality / role so much as aesthetics. A suit probably plays the role of the stroller but the odd jacket ensemble is the main thing that retains that aesthetic vibe?
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