In menswear, there are a select few garments that work harder, do more and demand less than all the rest. Things like a pair of leather sneakers, some slim-fitting selvedge denim, and a well-made Oxford button-down. These are items that can be called upon in all seasons, worn with any outfit and relied on year after year. One of the key players in this supergroup of uber-versatile all-stars is undoubtedly the overshirt.

Falling somewhere between a light jacket and a heavy shirt, this does-it-all wonder garment is more deserving of wardrobe-essential status than most. Typically, it features a classic collar, a few patch pockets, a slightly thicker fabrication than regular shirt styles and a marginally looser cut.

But before you run out and purchase, there are a few things to consider. So, allow us to walk you through the finer points of this menswear must-own, from buying considerations to where to get the best bang for your buck.

Why Do You Need An Overshirt?

Our love for overshirts runs deep, and while there are numerous reasons to hold this staple piece in high esteem, one eclipses them all: versatility.

It’s difficult – ney, impossible – to think of another piece of clothing that can be dressed up, dressed down, repurposed for different seasons and worn as frequently. Layer it up in winter, throw it over your knitwear as a light jacket in spring and autumn, roll the sleeves and slip it over a T-shirt on summer evenings around town. An overshirt truly has all bases covered, making it one of those rare and precious garments that can be pulled from the hanger each morning without a second thought.

If there’s one layer worth investing in this is it. Simple, easy to wear and one of the best all-rounders any man could hope to own.

How To Choose The Right Overshirt

First thing’s first: before forking out on a new overshirt there are a few things to consider. From finding the right fit to selecting an appropriate fabric, here’s what you need to know.

Fit

How an overshirt should fit depends on what you want to use it for. If you’re just planning to wear it over a T-shirt then a slim fit will work fine. If, however, you’d like the option of wearing it with more layers, a roomier cut is advisable. When it comes to getting the most wear throughout the year, the latter is likely the best option.

Fabric

There are plenty of options where overshirt fabric is concerned, with some being better suited to certain seasons than others. For example, a heavy wool or denim overshirt is perfect for use through the colder months but not so much in the summer. For something that can carry you through the whole year, go for a simple cotton twill or nylon version.

Style

This part is largely down to personal preference. Options such as zip or button fastening, pockets and embellishments can drastically alter the look of an overshirt. Consider what sort of look you’re aiming for before jumping in and buying something you’ll regret. In our experience, pared back and minimal tends to be best.

Colour

Overshirts are available in everything from vibrant patterns and bold block colours to subtle neutrals and natural earth tones. Choosing which one to go for centres largely around the season. Grey, black or navy are fail-safe options year-round, whereas it’s probably best to save the colourful prints for summer and the rich autumnal hues for fall/winter.

The Best Brands For Overshirts

A Day’s March

It’s difficult to pick our favourite thing about A Day’s March, but if really pressed for an answer we’d have to say the overshirts. The brand’s ethos of producing only the essential items and pouring all of its energy into making them as good as they can possibly be lends itself nicely to a garment like this. Perhaps that’s why the overshirt has been one of ADM’s core pieces since the beginning. And perhaps it’s why it makes some of the best in the game.

Buy now at A Day’s March

Arket

The high-street home of Swedish minimalism, H&M-owned Arket (featured image, top) is the savvy shopper’s choice when it comes to sourcing a quality overshirt that won’t break the bank. Expect pared-back styling, a good mixture of contemporary and classic cuts, and an extremely appealing cost-per-wear ratio.

Buy now at Arket

Uniqlo

Getting good, stylish clothing on a tight budget hasn’t always been an easy task. Now, however, thanks to Uniqlo, it’s no longer the struggle it one was. The Japanese high-street hero’s seasonal collections are tightly curated, with an overarching focus on quality fabrications and constructions. The overshirt is a firm fixture throughout the year, with subtle styling and reasonable price points coming as standard.

Buy now at Uniqlo

Stone Island

Known and loved for its innovative fabrics and unconventional dyeing techniques, Italian luxury brand Stone Island has long been a force to reckon with in menswear. The overshirt is common thread throughout the label’s seasonal collections, with modern tweaks and compass-badge branding serving as trademark design motifs.

Buy now at END.

Aspesi

With a history stretching back over 40 years, Aspesi is the undisputed king of casualwear in Italy. Alberto Aspesi’s eponymous label rose to prominence on the back of it’s perfectly-cut shirting, shortly followed by a full line of typically well-made Italian basics with a focus on exclusive and unusual fabrics. The overshirt is one of the brand’s calling cards, featuring next-level craftsmanship, an absence of labels and that unmistakable Milanese pedigree.

Buy now at FarFetch

Universal Works

There’s a lot to love about British label Universal Works: the unstructured tailoring, the throwback fabrics, the ability of its design team to create garments that somehow feel both modern and timeless. Above all this, though, is the brand’s Baker Jacket. It has quickly become Universal Work’s signature piece and remains one of the best overshirts money can buy.

Buy now at END.

Stan Ray

Established in 1972, Stan Ray is a tough-as-nails American apparel brand known for supplying gear to the US military. Given that the overshirt is nothing if not a glowing example of utilitarian design, it stands to reason that these guys should make some of the best. Expect heavy fabrics, rugged build quality and plenty of pockets.

Buy now at END.

Norse Projects

Blending workwear and streetwear influences with a heavy dose of Scandi minimalism, Norse Projects is the sort of label you could deck your entire wardrobe out in. Functional basics like overshirts, heavy chinos and thick sweaters make up the core of Norse’s output. It’s clothing that’s as stylish as it is hard-wearing, making it worth every penny.

Buy now at Norse Projects