Tailoring, we’re told, must change with the times. This should make our post-pandemic moment a golden age for the unstructured sport coat, defined as a jacket made without chest canvassing, shoulder padding or the other “hard” elements that give a jacket its 3-D shape.
But deconstructed tailoring has been with us for well over a century. Its origins can be traced back to the blazers worn by collegiate rowing teams in the late 19th century, which were made without the stuffing and functioned as athletic warm-up gear. During the early 20th century, Neapolitan tailors tinkered with the design of Savile Row-style suits, removing the stiff bits to make softer, lighter jackets that were better suited to the Mediterranean climate—a style that many Italian brands continue to practice.
Unstructured tailoring went mainstream in 1975, when Giorgio Armani introduced soft, padding-free jackets under his eponymous label, rebuking the stiff and wide-shouldered style of the day. Some four decades later, the appeal of the unstructured jacket has only increased, thanks to its ability to be more easily dressed down or packed away in a carry-on.
That makes now as good a time as ever to review some of the most appealing unstructured makes on the market today, running from sneakily soft blazers and suit jackets to workwear-inspired pieces that lean perilously close to shirt jacket-territory. You’ll find them all below.
Polo Artisan Chino Suit Jacket
In a somewhat ironic move, workwear-inspired details like patch flap pockets, reinforced stitching and a washed cotton chino fabric combine to give this unstructured Polo suit jacket a day-off feel. Follow it up with ecru denim and canvas sneakers.
Boglioli K-Jacket Slim-Fit Wool-Twill Blazer
Milanese maker Boglioli built its name on soft tailoring, particularly through its completely unstructured K-Jacket. This particular iteration borrows design cues from the label’s archives and is made from a mid-weight wool twill for year-round wear.
L.B.M. Cotton Sport Coat
An unstructured make and knit cotton fabric push this L.B.M. sport coat towards sweater territory. Lean into its laidback vibes by wearing it with a crewneck tee and drawstring trousers.
Todd Snyder Soft Italian Sport Coat
Proving that you can still get that British country house look when the weather is balmy, this Todd Snyder sport coat is made from a linen-cotton fabric in a glen-plaid pattern and left unpadded and unlined. Patch pockets make it casual enough to be worn with denim, while a slightly nipped waist provides the shape required for more polished looks.
Drake’s Cotton Linen Herringbone Games Blazer Mk. III
By leaving out the canvassing and introducing workwear-inspired features, Drake’s Games blazer series seeks to dress down tailoring. The make III is perhaps the most interesting model, as it marries a looser cut and utilitarian pockets to a double-breasted button stance, cut here from a navy cotton-linen herringbone.
Smock West Coast Blazer in Tropical Wool
The minimalist design of this tropical-weight taupe blazer from Smock takes a page from David Byrne but loses the oversized shoulder pads in favor of soft construction. Wear it with matching trousers to form a decidedly off-duty suit.
Kiton Slim-Fit Unstructured Cotton-Blend Jersey Blazer
This unstructured blazer from legendary Neapolitan tailor Kiton has the same refined look as the maker’s other jackets, only without the filling. Stretchy, cotton-blend jersey fabric complements its more relaxed feel.
Taylor Stitch The Emerson Jacket in Double Cloth
Made from a garment-dyed cotton fabric that can take a beating and marked by reinforced topstitching, Taylor Stitch’s Emerson jacket falls squarely into the workwear camp. Embrace that ethos by wearing it with raw denim and chukka boots, or make a more refined play with an OCBD, chinos and loafers.
Aspesi Murakami Winter Jacket in Garment-Dyed Gabardine
In some cases, a substantial enough fabric can stand in for a jacket’s structure. One example is Aspesi’s Murakmaki jacket, which is made from a heavyweight, garment-dyed cotton gabardine that’s been stonewashed for a lived-in feel.
CDLP Pool Topstitched Poplin Suit Jacket
Made from lightweight viscose marked by white topstitching, this CDLP “suit jacket” falls somewhere between an unstructured sport coat and the tuxedo T-shirt. It can, however, be elevated to full-on suit status with matching pants.
The Anthology Lazyman Jacket
It may be called the “Lazyman,” but there’s nothing half-baked about the Anthology jacket’s design. The unstructured piece is made from lofty yet durable camel hair and includes rollable sleeves and adjustable side tabs to help wearers find the perfect fit.
Sid Mashburn Ghost Blazer
The classic blue blazer can be a bit stuffy—until you rip the stuffing out. Sid Mashburn’s Ghost blazer nails that Ivy style look with an undarted front and patched-flap pockets, but is made from a lightweight, high-twist wool and left totally unstructured and unlined.