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How to Measure for a Sports Coat

If you want to look classy for a casual outdoor work event, you can’t go wrong with a sports coat! The trick is finding the right size and fit for you because you still want to look tailored and put together, even in this more casual jacket. Fortunately, you can learn how to measure for a sports coat in just a few minutes!

Sports coat sizes use chest and length measurements to determine the size. The most important measurements for finding this size include the chest, shoulders, and arm length. This casual jacket often uses thicker fabric and a slightly looser cut than a blazer or suit jacket.

In this article, you will learn how sports coat sizes work. You will discover how to take your own measurements to find your sports coat size. Finally, you will learn how to distinguish a sports coat from a blazer.

How to Measure for Sports Coat

How Does Sport Coat Sizing Work?

Sport coat sizes, like suit coats and blazers, use a size label consisting of a double-digit number and a letter. The number lists the chest size in inches, and the letter indicates the length of the jacket. This means that a sports coat with a size label of 36R should fit someone with a chest measurement of 36 inches, and the “R” tells you what jacket length to expect.

Most brands selling sports coats use letters to describe the length of the coat. Typically, these include “S” for short, “R” for regular, and “L” for long.

How many inches long does a short, regular, or long jacket measure? Well, that can vary from one brand to another. You generally want the hem of a sports coat to hang long enough to reach between the two knuckles on your thumb. Of course, this can mean a different length in inches from one person to another.

Another important variation to remember is that the chest measurement part of the size label does not mean that the coat measures 36 inches across the chest. Instead, the coat should fit someone with that measurement. This matters because sports coats typically have a looser, slightly bulkier fit than a suit jacket.

If the jacket had the same circumference as your chest, it would cling to you tightly rather than nicely outlining your shape.

Understanding sports coat sizes is only half the battle, though. You need to take several additional important measurements, like your arm length for sleeves, to find a sports coat that fits you just right.

How to Measure for a Sports Coat

Measuring for Sports Coat

The essential measurement you need to find the right sports coat for you is the chest measurement, which will tell you what size coat to shop for. But having a coat that fits just right around the chest won’t help much if you end up with sleeves that ride up above your wrists or a button that won’t fasten around your waist! Because of that, you need to take several key measurements to find the perfectly fitted sports coat.

This includes the chest, length, shoulders, waist, and sleeve length. Once you have taken these measurements, write them down and compare them to a sizing chart offered by most brands online in the product description for the garment.

For example, suppose you discover that you have a 36” chest measurement. Read the size 36 row or column across the chart to make sure that the sleeve length, waist, and other crucial measurements in that size also match your measurements.

You should match your measurements to a sizing chart every time you want to buy a new garment. This is important because every brand can use slightly different measurements to determine their sizes. A 36R sports coat from Mens Wearhouse will likely fit you differently than a 36R sports coat from Calvin Klein.


How To Measure Chest Size

The key to accurate chest measurement is finding a friend to help you. This is important because you will use your chest measurement as your coat size in most cases. The only exception is some big and tall sizes–you will find a handy trick for finding your chest size for big and tall sizes later in this section!

To get an accurate chest measurement:

  1. Wear a dress shirt or polo as you take this measurement, but do not measure over bulky clothing like a sweater or jacket.
  2. Start with the right posture. Stand with your arms at your sides and your shoulders straight but not tensed. Spread your feet hip distance apart and breathe in and out naturally.
  3. Have your friend start the short end of a flexible tape measure snuggly in your armpit.
  4. Next, your friend will wrap the tape securely around your torso at this point, making sure it remains level as it crosses your upper back.
  5. When the two ends of the tape meet, write down the measurement.
  6. Use this as your jacket or coat size.

The exception to this rule applies to anyone with a portly, super muscular, or big and tall figure. In this case, you should start with the chest measurement, but use a second overarm measurement to help you get an accurate size:

  1. Stand with the same straight but relaxed posture, arms hanging at your sides.
  2. This time, ask your friend to wrap the tape around the outside of your arms at the same armpit level as the previous chest measurement.
  3. Make sure the tape crosses the widest part of your chest as it circles your arms and torso.
  4. Try not to flex your arms or chest. Breathe slowly and keep yourself relaxed.
  5. Next, subtract your chest measurement from your overarm measurement. If your chest measured 40” and your overarm measurement came out to 48”, subtract 40 from 48 to get 8.
  6. If the difference between the two measurements comes out to 7” or more, ditch the original chest size. Instead, subtract 7 from your overarm measurement, and use that number as your chest size. For the example listed here, you would subtract 7 from the overarm measurement of 48 to get a chest size of 41 inches.



You can measure yourself to find your perfect sport coat length quite easily.

  1. Use one hand to hold the short end of a tape measure at the tip of your shoulder, right along the shoulder seam in your shirt.
  2. Bring the tape down diagonally from that point to the end of your pants zipper.
  3. Note down the measurement.

For many brands, a length between 28-29 inches means an “S” or short length. A length between 30 to 31 inches often means an “R” or regular length. And anything between 31 to 33 inches usually indicates an “L” or long length.

If your measurement falls below or above those average lengths, you may want to visit a professional to get your measurements taken, just in case. You can also find brands that sell extra short or extra long sports coats.

The measurement used to determine length can vary from one brand to another, though. Plus, the cut or style of the sport coat could impact the length slightly.


Measuring Shoulder Width for Clothes

A shoulder measurement for a sport coat measures the distance across the back of your shoulders. This guarantees a sport coat with shoulder seams that rest at the ends of your shoulders, rather than hanging down sloppily onto your arms. While shoulder width is not part of the official size of a sports coat like a chest measurement, it is one of the most critical measurements for a good fit.

  1. Wear a button-down shirt to help you find key points to start and stop this measurement.
  2. Ask a friend to take the measurement for you, as it is nearly impossible to measure your own back accurately!
  3. Have your friend place one end of the tape measure at the very end of your shoulder. You will see a seam in the shirt at this point where the sleeve connects to the body of the shirt.
  4. Next, have your friend run the tape along the curved edge of your shoulders, over your spine and lower neck, and across your other shoulder.
  5. Stop at the opposite shoulder seam where the sleeve connects to the shirt.
  6. You do not want the tape to form a straight line for this measurement. Instead, it needs to follow the curve of your shoulders.
  7. Write down the measurement.


Measuring the waist

Many sizing charts for sports coats will include a waist measurement to make sure the jacket will button easily without any creasing or straining. If you wear sports coats or suits regularly, you probably know that one of the best ways to look sharp in your jacket is to always button it while standing and unbutton it while seated. You should never see creases straining away from the button when you have the jacket fastened.

  1. The easiest way to find your natural waist is to measure one inch below your navel. You can take this measurement yourself with the help of a wall-mounted mirror.
  2. Locate the point one inch below your navel, or look for the narrowest part of your torso.
  3. Wrap the tape around yourself at this point. Use the mirror to make sure the tape forms a level line around you.
  4. Pull the tape snug around your shirt, but not too tight.
  5. Write down the measurement.

Sleeve Length

Sleeve length measurement

Every sizing chart for a sports coat should include the sleeve length of the jacket to help you pick a coat that fits your arm’s length. Ideally, your sport coat sleeve should reach just at your wrist bone, allowing a fraction of your dress shirt sleeve to show beneath. If you wear something else beneath the sport coat, such as a sweater, you may want the jacket and sweater sleeve to end at the same place.

  1. Wear a dress shirt as you take this measurement because its seams will help you locate the correct start and stop points for the sleeve length.
  2. Place the short end of the tape at the top of your shoulder, right on top of the seam where the shirt sleeve connects to the shirt.
  3. Hold your arm at a 90° angle and measure down the outer edge of your upper arm, around the bend of your elbow, and then down the length of your forearm till you reach the wrist bone.
  4. Find the knob of your wrist bone and stop at the point where the knob begins to curve up toward your hand.
  5. Write down that measurement.

Though this is the most common way to measure your arm for the sleeve length, some tailors and brands also measure from the base of the neck down the arm. If the measurement in the sizing chart seems many inches longer than your arm measurement, try using that method instead.

Sport Coat Cuts

Sport Coat Cuts

Taking accurate measurements is the best way to find a sports coat that fits you perfectly, but choosing the right cut or style of coat can also play a big role in helping you look your best. Most brands offer sports coats in three fits or styles, including modern, classic, and slim fit. Each cut has a slightly different shape that will fit your body in a unique way.

Classic Fit

A classic or traditional fit typically has the roomiest cut, with wide armholes and slightly wider sleeves that may or may not taper toward the wrist. The chest will feel roomy instead of closely fitting the outline of your torso, too.

Sports coats often fit more loosely than a suit jacket or a blazer. For this reason, you will never look out of place wearing a classic cut. But you don’t want to wear a boxy-looking number that went out of style in the 1980s!

Modern Fit

A modern fit usually nips in the coat a bit more than a classic cut, with more narrow shoulders and smaller armholes than a traditional cut. The coat will fit more snuggly all over, with a slightly smaller chest and waist circumference.

A modern fit is a compromise between a classic and a slim fit. It offers more comfort than a tight, slim-fit coat and outlines your silhouette more clearly than a classic fit.

Slim Fit

A slim-fit sports coat will frame the shape of your body pretty closely, leaving just enough room for a dress shirt beneath it when fastened shut. It will clearly delineate the shape of your shoulders, wrap closely around your chest, and often have a tapered waist and tapered sleeves.

This style has a trendy appearance that often looks best on people with a narrow or tall frame. It pairs well with slim-fit dress pants or khakis and can turn a casual sportcoat outfit into a trim, stylish look.

Sports Coat Size Chart

This sports coat size chart will give you an idea of the measurements often used to select sizes for sports coats. But every brand will use different measurements to determine the size of a sports coat, so you should always check the product description before making a purchase. In fact, in some cases, the measurements may even vary from one cut of sports coat to another within the same size.

Size Chest Waist Sleeve
35 or Small 35” to 37” 29” to 31” 32” to 33”
38 or Medium 38” to 40” 32” to 34” 33” to 34”
41 or Large 41” to 43” 35” to 37” 34” to 35”

The second part of the size, denoted by a letter such as S, R, or L, will usually feature in a second chart that describes the jacket length:

Short 28” to 29”
Regular 29” to 30”
Long 31” to 33”

Sport Coat Sizes

Learning how to take your measurements to find a sports coat size will help you find the right one, but you may still have questions about sports coat sizes.

What Size Sport Coat is L?

If you find a brand of sports coat that uses letters as sizes, the “L” likely indicates a size Large jacket. However, most brands do not use the generic small, medium, and large sizes for sports coats. Instead, they use a chest size followed by a letter to indicate the length of the jacket.

If the jacket size is listed as a double-digit number followed by an L, the L usually means a long jacket length.

What Size is 42R in a Blazer?

A size of 42R in a blazer means a blazer that will fit someone with a 42” chest measurement. The letter R in the size label also tells you that the jacket has a “regular” length, though the actual measurement in inches can vary from one brand to another.

What Size is a 40 Regular Suit?

A 40 Regular or 40R suit will fit someone with a 40” chest measurement and an average-length upper body. The “R” or regular part of the size means that the jacket has an average length, often between 30 and 31 inches. If you have a 40” chest but a shorter or longer upper body, you may want the 40S or 40L jacket instead to get a shorter or longer length.

Sport Coat Size Calculator

Using an online calculator like this one can offer a shortcut to finding the right sport coat size for you. All you have to do is plug in personal information about your measurements, height, or weight, and the calculator will guess your sports coat size.

However, this method gives you an estimate, not an accurate readout. The best two ways to find a perfectly fitted sports coat are to take your measurements and use the sizing chart provided by the brand you like or go to a professional to get your measurements taken.

How Do You Fit a Sport Coat?

How To Fit Sport Coat

Understanding how to fit a sports coat will help you find the right jacket for you, too. This list gives you the key points to look for as you try on a new jacket. Make sure you try on your new sports coat while wearing the shirt or sweater you plan to wear regularly for the best results.

  • Look at the shoulders first because you want the seam where the jacket sleeve connects to the jacket to rest at the very end of your shoulder. If you see an indentation or divot at the top of the shoulder, the jacket is too big for you. You can also judge a too-big sports coat based on the shoulder seam of the jacket by noting if it sags over the edge of your shoulder onto your arm.
  • Button the jacket while standing up straight. If the jacket around the button spreads smoothly across your waist, it fits well! If you see any creases or straining, the sports coat is too small for you.
  • Turn your back to a mirror and examine the shoulders of the jacket. If the expanse of the sport coat lies in a flat, unwrinkled line across the top of your shoulders, it fits well. But if you see extra fabric bunching or wrinkles indicating strain, the jacket is too large or too small for your shoulder width.
  • Check out the lapels and collar of the sports coat next. Do they lie flat around your neck and down your chest?/ If you spot a gap between your shirt and the jacket, it does not fit you right.
  • Finally, check the length of the sleeves and jacket. The jacket sleeves should hit your arm at or above your wrist bone. The jacket hem should reach low enough to cover most of your seat or to the point between the two knuckles on your thumb.

What is the Difference Between a Blazer and a Sport Coat?

Difference Between a Sports Coat and Blazer

The main difference between a blazer and a sports coat is that a blazer is a tad more formal and fitted than a sports coat. The two types of jackets also often use different types of fabrics.

You generally wear a blazer as a stand-alone item without matching pants. It fits best over a dress shirt and usually features a solid, somewhat formal fabric. It works great for business casual outfits and most office workplaces.

A sports coat also serves as a stand-alone garment worn without matching pants. You can wear a sports coat over a sweater, turtleneck, or sweater vest, not just over a dress shirt. But it often features a thicker, bulkier fabric, as it was originally used for outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. Plus, sports coats tend to feature bolder, less formal patterns like windowpane plaids or fun colors.


Sports coats use size labels with a chest measurement followed by a jacket length, listed as a double-digit number and a letter. A 40L sports coat size means a jacket that will fit someone with a 40” chest measurement and a long upper body. The best way to find the right sports coat size for you is to take accurate measurements and compare them to a brand-specific sizing chart.

Key measurements for a sports coat size include the chest circumference right below the armpits, the shoulder width across the upper back, and the waist circumference at the natural waist. Measuring your arm length will help you get the right jacket sleeve size. Taking a shoulder-to-pants-zipper measurement will help determine your jacket length.