Casual Cotton Sport Coats for Fall
Many of us think of fabrics in terms of seasons. Lightweight cottons and linens are for spring/ summer; heavy tweeds and flannels are for fall/ winter. This isn’t just about comfort — a way to keep ourselves as cool or warm as we want to be — but also about what these materials express in terms of style. A tweed jacket in the summertime would look odd, even if you didn’t mind how warm it made you feel.
Cotton, however, also happens to be a wonderful material for fall. Think of sport coats made from heavy, rumpled drills or velvety, ribbed corduroys. With the right construction and style, these can have all the sharpness of a tailored jacket, but none of the pretension. 
You can pair cotton sports with any of your more casual items. They go great with plaid shirts worn opened collar and without a tie, like you see on Mr. Francis Ford Coppola above, or with an oxford cloth button down shirt, brushed flannel, or soft chamois. The point is to just get something with a certain kind of visual weight, so that your shirt can hold its own against your thick, rumply sport coat. Pants can be khaki or olive chinos, and shoes can be derbies, loafers, or chukkas. I like suede and pebbled grained materials in these cases, but smoother leathers also work well. Add a heavily textured scarf at the end for good effect. 
Perhaps the best thing about a cotton sport coat is that — much like good leathers and jeans — it can look better with time. The edges will fray, elbows will thin, and the material overall will soften with wear. So long as you get something that fits you well, these are the kind of tailored jackets you can treat like your more casual pieces of outerwear. They’re perfect for the kind of guy who wants to look sharply tailored, but also doesn’t want to look too fussy. 
(Pictured above, Francis Ford Coppola, as shot by Sacha Lenz)

Casual Cotton Sport Coats for Fall

Many of us think of fabrics in terms of seasons. Lightweight cottons and linens are for spring/ summer; heavy tweeds and flannels are for fall/ winter. This isn’t just about comfort — a way to keep ourselves as cool or warm as we want to be — but also about what these materials express in terms of style. A tweed jacket in the summertime would look odd, even if you didn’t mind how warm it made you feel.

Cotton, however, also happens to be a wonderful material for fall. Think of sport coats made from heavy, rumpled drills or velvety, ribbed corduroys. With the right construction and style, these can have all the sharpness of a tailored jacket, but none of the pretension. 

You can pair cotton sports with any of your more casual items. They go great with plaid shirts worn opened collar and without a tie, like you see on Mr. Francis Ford Coppola above, or with an oxford cloth button down shirt, brushed flannel, or soft chamois. The point is to just get something with a certain kind of visual weight, so that your shirt can hold its own against your thick, rumply sport coat. Pants can be khaki or olive chinos, and shoes can be derbies, loafers, or chukkas. I like suede and pebbled grained materials in these cases, but smoother leathers also work well. Add a heavily textured scarf at the end for good effect. 

Perhaps the best thing about a cotton sport coat is that — much like good leathers and jeans — it can look better with time. The edges will fray, elbows will thin, and the material overall will soften with wear. So long as you get something that fits you well, these are the kind of tailored jackets you can treat like your more casual pieces of outerwear. They’re perfect for the kind of guy who wants to look sharply tailored, but also doesn’t want to look too fussy. 

(Pictured above, Francis Ford Coppola, as shot by Sacha Lenz)

Put This On Spring 2014:

Japanese Blue & White, Five Ways

(And Maroon, One Way)

For spring, the Put This On pocket square shop has added half a dozen Japanese cotton pocket squares. The cottons come from old rolls we’ve purchased at flea markets and vintage textile shows, demonstrating a variety of traditional Japanese resistance-dying techniques.

Like all our pocket squares, these are hand-made by a single craftswoman, with hand-rolled and sewn edges for an elegant presentation. No flat machined seams, here.

Each of these, like all our cotton squares, sells for a price more suitable to a mass-produced product: $45. Find them in the Japanese section of our shop, along with over 75 other beautiful designs in fabrics old and new.

Q and Answer: What’s the Difference Between Plaid, Tartan and Madras?

Michael asks: I have looked for an explanation of the difference (or relationship) between plaid, madras, and tartan. The results have been less informative than I had hoped for. I was also curious if there was a definitive way to tell the difference between the three.

Scotland has always been known for its weaving, and particularly its weaving of wool. Scotland is also known for Highland Dress, the combination of kilt and other elements that is the country’s national costume. Banned by King George II in the early 18th century, these outfits became a powerful symbol of Scottish and Celtic identity.

One of the most important characteristics of Highland Dress is the distinctive checked patterns of its woolens - tartans. These patterns came into vogue throughout the commonwealth in the early 19th century, and have stayed popular ever since.

The tartan emerged in Scotland in the 16th century. Over the course of the next three hundred years, these distinctive patterns gained symbolic associations. Today, a specific tartan pattern can “belong” to a clan, an organization, even a company. In the United States, when we say “tartan,” we’re usually referring to a pattern that has a specific association, like the famous Stewart tartan, above.

In Scotland, a “plaid” is a specific part of Highland Dress: a sort of pleated blanket-wrap that’s sometimes twice as long as its wearer is tall. This plaid is worn over one shoulder and under the opposite arm, as seen in the photo above. As you can see, the effect is quite impressive.

In the United States, the word plaid is a generic word that describes checked patterns of all kinds. Here in the States, we generally use “plaid” to describe pretty much any such pattern, and “tartan” to describe a pattern with a specific Scottish symbolic meaning. (We also tend to chuck out the window the symbolic meaning of the tartans, unless we’re in a Scottish person’s wedding or at a Highland Games.)

Madras is something else entirely. It refers to a type of cloth, originally made during the British colonial era in Madras, India, (now Chennai). The cloth is a very lightweight cotton, decorated with plaids that are typically in loud colors. The most famous madras fabrics were dyed with natural dyes, which bled when washed - “bleeding madras.” These fabrics were particularly prized by Americans in the middle of the 20th century, and the Ivy League revival has made them popular again today. Today’s madras, largely made with artificial dyes in places other than India, tends to be even brighter than its forbear.