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.