Your outerwear rotation, like your cooking repertoire, is something a man will be rightly judged on. The right jacket or coat can completely transform an outfit, elevating casual looks, toning down overly formal outfits and even serving as a vehicle through which to introduce colour and pattern to otherwise subdued looks. But you have to have the right style at the right time.
Styles like the parka, the bomber, the denim jacket and the pea coat will never go out of fashion, but if you want to take your sartorial chops to the next level, a good first step is to expand your outerwear horizons beyond those essentials.
There’s more to the world of coats and jackets than these staple silhouettes. Styles like the field jacket, the chore coat and the fleece are timeless and highly versatile while offering something a little bit different to the classics. These are our picks for the alternative coats and jackets every guy should try.
With its long, draping cut and classic collar, this understated overcoat is a stripped-back relative of the more heavily embellished trench coat. It’s cut slightly oversized in order to accommodate multiple layers beneath it, and can also be worn over a suit jacket with padded shoulders. Designs vary from piece to piece, but a car coat will typically feature a button front, two slit pockets and is traditionally made from gabardine, favoured for its smart looks and water-repellent properties.
It’s a fairly formal coat in the sense that it is designed to be worn with tailoring, but it can also be dressed down with casual pieces. A beige car coat is a great option when it comes to giving off-duty looks a bit of purpose and can be used to elevate basics like T-shirts, hoodies, jeans and even sweatpants.
Fashion’s ongoing obsession with the great outdoors has done lots of good for menswear, but perhaps the greatest gift of all has been the re-emergence of the fleece as an everyday jacket. Thick-pile, retro fleeces have always been there, but the gorpcore trend has opened people up to new styling possibilities and cemented this shaggy outerwear as a must-have item in the modern man’s wardrobe.
The fleece that started it all was Patagonia’s Retro-X. It’s still in production today (albeit pretty far removed from the original models from the 1980s) and has spurred countless imitations over the years.
This type of fleece is surprisingly easy to nail – just throw it on with anything other than tailoring and it’ll work. That said, it’s best not to go too outdoorsy with the rest of your outfit, keeping garments causal and simple – workwear-inspired pieces like leather boots, jeans and flannel shirts work well.
Chore Coat/Worker Jacket
From mechanics’ workshops in the Midwest to trendy bars in East London, chore coats and worker jackets are ubiquitous, beloved by labourers and social media managers alike. The terms are often used interchangeably and while there are clear similarities between chore coats and worker jackets – patch pockets, classic collar, thick canvas construction, boxy fit – the former tends to be insulated while the latter is unlined.
One of the reasons we love these rugged pieces of workwear is that they’re incredibly easy to wear. They go with anything and everything, and work all year round – a light jacket in spring and summer, a stylish mid-layer in the autumn and winter. Team one up with similarly functional pieces as part of a workwear-inspired look, or use one as an overshirt to dress down smart casual outfits.
Many of menswear’s finest pieces of outerwear have their roots in the armed forces. The parka, the pea coat, the trench coat and the bomber can all be traced back to the military, as can the field jacket. People just don’t talk about it as much.
Field jacket is an umbrella term used to refer to a number of military issue jackets, most commonly the M-65. It’s a stand-collar jacket with epaulet straps to the shoulders, four pockets and zip fastening to the front. Traditionally, it’s khaki or green, but outside of the forces they can be pretty much any colour you could think of.
For an offbeat version, look to military inspired brands like Maharishi, orSlow and Nigel Cabourn, or go authentic and get trawling through the rails at your local military surplus store. Whichever you choose, make sure to wear it with casual pieces like chukka boots, denim and heavy knitwear.
Created by Schott in the late 1920s and popularised by Hollywood heartthrobs of the 1950s, the leather motorcycle jacket was then, and still is, a symbol of anti-authority and rebellion… that just so happens to look great with a pair of jeans. It features an asymmetric zip, oversized lapels, zip-pocket detailing and a belted waist.
The first motorcycle jacket was called the Perfecto. It’s still made by Schott NYC to this day, but many other brands have paid homage to the design over the years by putting their own spin on it. Labels like Saint Laurent and AllSaints are well known for their biker jackets and are worth a look if you’re thinking of investing in this timeless design for yourself. Team it with denim, a white T-shirt and black Chelsea boots or white sneakers.
Even the simplest, most understated outfit imaginable can be brought to life by a printed jacket. All it takes is a subtle print or pattern to bring a look to life, creating a sense of depth and giving your look a focal point to draw the eye in.
Any style of jacket can work here but a good rule of thumb is this: the wilder the pattern, the more minimal the details should be. To play it safe, go for subtle patterns like stripes and checks, but if you do decide to go garish, make sure the canvas is a nice simple garment, like a worker jacket.
Full-zip outerwear gets all the love, but there’s something to be said for a pullover. Featuring a half-zip fastening, these hooded windbreakers slip on over the head, offering increased weather protection and a unique look that lends itself well to casual outfits.
Outdoor brands like Patagonia and Fjallraven, which blend technical elements with heritage looks, are good places to start if you’re looking for an overhead pullover, but there are plenty of more style-led labels making them too. Look at the likes of Albam, Rains, Stone Island and Battenwear, all of which have a track record for producing some seriously nice anoraks.