What is a soft coat?

Hardwick Soft CoatsMost of us are familiar with the basic categories of men's tailored clothing such as Suits, Suit Separates, Sport Coats, Pants, and Formal Wear. So what is all this talk about Soft Coats?  Well, we're glad you asked... 
Soft Coats, in our opinion, are simply a type of sport coat.  Similarities exist such that they're worn with a contrasting pant, can be either solid or patterned, and are just as versatile as your traditional sport coat.  So at face value, there isn't much difference.  
The distinction between a soft coat and sport coat becomes apparent once you start looking under the hood: the real differences lay underneath the fabric in terms of how the jacket is actually constructed.  

While a soft coat is certainly still a "tailored coat," the components and techniques used to create one vary extensively in four main areas:

    1. The Chest Piece: All tailored coats have a chest piece of some sort - it gives the jacket its structure and helps create shape. Our traditionally tailored jackets feature a canvas chest piece woven from horsehair, a rigid fiber that provides a lot of structure.  Our soft coats, however, feature a chest piece made with an innovative fiber that is specially developed to be softer & lighter than horse hair. It still provides structure, but is much more flexible than a traditional chest piece, resulting in what many consider a more comfortable, lightweight jacket.
    2. The Shoulder Pad: A traditionally constructed coat has a shoulder pad made alternating layers of cotton & canvas, which is typically 3/8” thick at the outside shoulder seam and eventually tapers to nothing as it approaches the collar. The soft coats differ in the sense that the chest piece extends further up through the shoulder adding additional stability, and thus reducing the need of a thicker, heavier pad.
    3. The Sleeve Head: This is another component of a tailored jacket. While our soft coats still use a sleeve head, it is of a difference variety made with a thinner, lighter canvas that provides more structure and has less weight than a traditional sleeve head
    4. The Pressing Technique: While this doesn't require any different components, it does require a change of technique. A garment of any kind has seams in any place where two fabrics meet.  In many instances, these are folded in some way which in turn creates bulk, bulk that has to go somewhere.  In the case of our soft coats, the seams where the sleeve and shoulder meet are pressed to the inside of the garment. This creates the appearance of what is know as a "natural shoulder", which is simply more rounded. This is different than pressing them to the outside, which creates a slight ridge, frequently referred to as “roping." 

Taken collectively, these changes in technique and components result in a much softer, lighter sport coat.  So much so that we believe they rightly deserve a category of their own.

And while there is nothing inherent within the construction that makes a soft coat less dressy than a sport coat, we tend to style some of these coats in a more casual nature, from open patch pockets to partially lined interiors. This makes them an ideal candidate for an open collar shirt or pairing with your favorite denim for an elevated look.  

Brandy Smith
Brandy Smith