Vertical Integration: An Ode To The Striped Sportcoat


Some months ago we ran a photo of a striped sportcoat. Either that or I mentioned finding them cool. Whichever it was, I remember several readers chiming in to say that this was a faux pas, that stripes only belong on suits, and that a striped sportcoat was destined to look like an orphaned suit.

Well probably because I’m a sportcoat guy rather than suit guy, I think the gent on the left below is a lot more stylish than the one on the right:


Yes, striped odd jackets were once as Ivy as, well, the color olive. Though rarely seen today save for the occasional model from J. Press…


… striped sportcoats (often a herringbone with a beaded stripe running through the pattern) were once ubiquitous, as evidenced by the vintage specimens regularly dug up by Newton Street Vintage, which provided the image at top as well as this one:


A couple more fabrics in close-up:



But striped odd jackets aren’t just for winter tweeds. It’s tough to guess exactly what kind of jacket provided the inspriation for the drawing below..


… but it made me think of cricket or regatta blazers, such as this one, which I thought the finest piece in Brooks Brothers’ new Gatsby collection:


And although the stripes are very fine, I suppose seersucker, when worn as jacket only, fits the theme of this post, as in this pink model from O’Connell’s:


Striped motifs are a staple of menswear, used for suits, shirts, ties, socks and belts. But like everything else, striped sportcoats are a matter of taste. So what do you think? Are they due for a comeback, or are they an endangered species for good reason? — c C m

[yop_poll id=”20″]

31 Comments on "Vertical Integration: An Ode To The Striped Sportcoat"

  1. Nothing of wrong about striped sport jackets,more flatter the figure.
    Chris,you are a sportcoat guy like… HE:

  2. A. E. W. Mason | June 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

    Personally love them. I have several but they are summer jackets. I could use a tweed like those you’ve posted for this fall. Newton Street Vintage is a great source for such items.

  3. Muted stripe tweed sport coats were the rock and foundation at J. Press during the Heyday of Ivy. The top pic got my heart beating out of control.

  4. Cranky Yankee | June 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

    I would call the tweeds (#1, 4, 5 and 6) broken bone rather than striped and the answer is a definite ‘Yes’.

  5. @ Carmelo

    I’ve been a Perry Mason fan since I was a boy in the 1960’s. Paul Drake was one of my boyhood heroes. When the show debuted in 1957, Hopper was 42. I’ll bet he was a real heartthrob with the ladies. At least, he was portrayed as the playboy type. In a few years, after he gained 30 pounds or more, (so did Perry) I doubt he was making the girls swoon, even in his Corvette or Thunderbird.

    Does anybody else think older guys look ridiculous in sports cars? Unless you’re Paul Newman or Steve McQueen. Back when the Vettes and the Birds first came out, the target market was older business and professional types. How times change.

    Anyhow, I’m a sportcoat type of guy. Muted stripes are fine with me.

  6. Maybe I do have some youth left in me, because I think that they look dated. That is not to say that I have not seen one worn well, but I do not think that it is easy look pull off.

  7. Christian | June 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm |

    What in the world is there to pull off? It hardly requires the kind of confidence and mojo (or retro-eccentricity) that “Makaga” displayed yesterday (see the Ivy Style Facebook page).

  8. These jackets are okay…bland actually. The Cricket blazer, unless worn to an occasion that played to it, say an actual club or reunion thereof, is a no go for me. Too contrived and “look at me” for my taste.

  9. Christian, I meant to pull off without looking dated. I usually think thrift store when on a younger person and that it is a bit retro on them. Just my opinion.

  10. Christian | June 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm |

    Ah, I see and I agree. That’s the curse of vintage. When your jacket is 50 years old, there’s a danger of its looking dated.

    With contemporary J. Press, though, I don’t think there’s a problem.

  11. Cambridge Chris | June 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm |

    My favorite Fall/Winter sportcoat is a hooked-vent Harris Tweed sack jacket in an olive/grey/brown color with subtle burgundy and dark green beaded stripes. Made for Kennedy’s College Hall collection some time in the early 60s. Despite the fact that so many people in the online menswear world think striped sportcoats are dated or “wrong”, I always get compliments on it. I say bring back the stripes, rules are made to be broken!

  12. Reactionary Trad | June 8, 2013 at 2:27 am |


    I think I’ll start using that word as a compliment.

  13. I am a fan.

    I own a couple of old(ish) tweeds of this type.

    Molloy (& Sons) and Magee persist in the weaving of said pattern(s).

    Oftentimes heavier (11 oz. and up), either Magee or Molloy provided Southwick with two unique versions. Is there a ‘New England Summer Tweed’? Well, sure.

    I’m not talking linen or linen blends. I speak of the two 7 oz. tweeds of this pattern one will find in the current Southwick box. Both are wool (60%)-Mohair (35%)-Cashmere (5%) blends. Repeat: 7 oz. Complete with all rustic, muted tweedyness of which the heavier Cheviots and Shetlands boast.

    “Imported from Ireland.” One is predominantly gray, the other olive(ish). Probably Molloy.

    Let me know if you want the cloth numbers.

  14. You’ve inspired me, Christian.

    I am placing an order for the Olive version today.

  15. Mitchell S. | June 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

    That Brooks Brothers regatta blazer is a little twee. All you need is a handlebar mustache, a cane, and a boater hat. It looks like something someone in a barbershop quartet might wear.

  16. To Mitchell S.

    An Englishman seeing the Brooks Gatsby Regatta Blazer would instantly associate it with the Henley Regatta, Oxford, Cambridge and the upper classes. Only a Lawrence Welk-American would think of it in the images you describe.

  17. A.E.W. Mason | June 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm |


    I agree with you with respect to “Lawrence Welk-America.” But in the early 20th Century and perhaps even through the 1930’s, an American gentleman of the upper-class would not be at all out of place at any number of summer outings in such attire. I like the blazer and think it could be pulled-off (although not easily) at the right event even today. The young, baby-faced models used by Brooks, in my opinion, add unnecessarily to the impression that the jacket is a costume piece. Didn’t Justice Holmes write something to the effect that if you’re going to be a dandy, you’ve got to balance it by also being willing to get your clothes torn and dirty fighting for your girlfriend’s honor–something like that, anyway.

  18. To Groton75 and Mitchell S.:

    Lawrence Welk’s America consisted, in significant part, of hard-working people from the middle of the country, usually without much money or education or anything close to sophistication, who enjoyed listening to barbershop quartets, cornpone humor, old-time sweety-pie love songs, and accordion music. Maybe they would not have known the Henley Regatta from a Chopin Sonata, or an upper-class summer outing from a fried-chicken supper under a Chautauqua tent. But I’ll bet they were good at sniffing out the sort of phoneys who might actually buy something like Brooks Brothers’s regatta blazer as a mark of identification with Oxford, Cambridge, or Justice Holmes.

  19. So, what I’m reading is, never wear a Harvard tie if you didn’t school there and never wear a regatta blazer if you aren’t a tugboat captain.

  20. Striped tweeds are great. Regatta blazers are cool if you’re acquired the taste. Conservative striped worsteds that belong with matching pants? Life is too short.

  21. I’m always amazed what little folks from the Northeast know about the rest of the country.

  22. Nice and a great alternative to everything else!

  23. DSF,

    That’s one of the best comments I’ve ever seen, here or elsewhere. Bravo!

    M Arthur,

    Exactly. If you went to school someplace where they wore jackets like that for certain events, and if you were part of a club whose members wore such blazers, and if you were to wear it to an appropriate event, then yes, it’s not a costume. Otherwise, give it a wide berth.


    Another good one!

  24. To DSF

    Thanks for the pseudo-intellectual lesson on Mid-Century American social history, but I’m afraid you missed the point completely.

    The point I was trying to illustrate is about the dichotomy between what the Regatta Jacket is really all about and the blogger’s notion of it. Its origins are, of course, the rowing clubs of the universities I mentioned, and one needn’t have belonged to them to wear this type of jacket (as long as the specific club colors aren’t duplicated.)

    Applying your logic about “phoneys” in Regatta Jackets then I suppose no one who isn’t Babe Ruth should ever wear a Yankees cap, no one who isn’t Ted Williams should sport a Red Sox cap, no one who isn’t an Irish fisherman should wear that sort of sweater, no one who lives outside a rainy London can wear a Burberry’s, or how about anyone besides Levi Strauss being allowed to wear denim pants with brass rivets — otherwise you’re a phony. Is that it?

    I digress.The Brooks regatta jacket is spectacular, and if it offends the politically-correct-better-not-be-better-than-anyone-else-egalitarianism I sense in your comments then so be it. Aren’t there enough ill-clad sods running around attired in Salvation Army/gym clothes that only want to see others dressed exactly like themselves?

    Great clothing is great clothing.

  25. To Groton 75:

    So you wouldn’t wear a regatta blazer if its colors specified a club of which you aren’t a member? How decent of you. I mean, only a twit or a phoney would wear a Harrow necktie if he didn’t go to Harrow. It just wouldn’t wash. OTOH, you could wear a Red Sox cap and no one would think you were once in the lineup. Do you see the difference?

    By “Salvation Army clothes,” I take it you mean the unstylish utilitarian clothes the Salvation Army donates to people who cannot afford to buy them, new or used. If so, I agree that it’d be nice if there were fewer people with no choice but to wear them. But even the poor have dignity. Most would not, for instance, been seen dead in a regatta blazer, even if its colors specified a club of which they aren’t members.

  26. Woofboxer | June 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

    J Press still do a sports jacket In an olive ‘Donegal Mist’ tweed with vertical stripe feints. The salesman told they once offered 32 colour variations of this pattern, now down to just the one.

  27. A.E.W. Mason | June 16, 2013 at 6:11 pm |


    Here are the specs on the jacket. It’s on sale at J. Press for $1,012.50. Looking at where the third button is in relation to the breast pocket, I think this is actually more of a two button silhouette.

    “3B Sack Sport Coat – Olive

    $1,012.50SKU#: JP010V

    3B Sack, half canvas with Bemberg lining, natural shoulder design and 5/16″ stitches. 60% wool/35% mohair/5% cashmere. Woven in Ireland. Made in the U.S.A. olive with blue/orange striped tweed”

  28. Bought one junior year during the after-Christmas sale. Pink & light blue stripes on tan. Very soft. Worn out the lining and elbows after about a decade. Perfect over a Shaggy Dog for Nov./Dec. strolling.

  29. GROTON75:

    That Regatta Blazer is indeed “spectacular.” Might have considered during the SA sale, but none left in my size. I do have a very nice 1990s Kent & Curwen, though.

  30. I suspect that your “faux pas” commenters, when they hear the phrase “striped sportcoat” are simply picturing a dark worsted jack with pinstripes. In that narrow context, they’re right: it does look like an orphaned suit coat.

    Striped tweeds, broad/bold striped blazers and seersucker are obviously a whole other thing. I have two J. Press striped Donegals myself, and they’re my favorite jackets. You can wear it in pretty nearly any situation except where a suit is required (well, not so great in the summer, either, but that’s obvious).

    The striped blazers are fun, at least for the right person or in the right context, both of which are – sadly – less common than was once the case.

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