When the sun finally returns and washes away those long nights and gloomy days, perhaps the last thing on your mind is outerwear.
“Summer jacket” might sound like an oxymoron, but don’t write them off – jackets are every bit as important in the warmer months as they are during the cooler portion of the year. They combat freak summer showers; they provide yet another sartorial building block for your seasonal wardrobe; and perhaps most importantly of all, they keep the chill at bay on those hazy evening beer-garden sessions (remember those?).
The trick to making it work lies in picking seasonally-appropriate styles and fabrics. And we’ve prepared a handy guide that arms you with the knowledge you’ll need to do just that.
From lightweight layers to waterproof wonders, here are the key summer jacket styles you should own and why.
The denim jacket is one of menswear’s most enduring garments. For generations, it’s been a go-to piece of outerwear without ever falling from grace. Plus, it’s more than just a light outer layer on cool summer’s evenings. In the colder months, its low profile fit allows it to slot beneath a heavier winter coat, making it a prime layering piece.
We could wax lyrical all day about the merits of a good denim jacket but the salient points are these: it’s classic, it’s versatile, and it’s so much more than just a seasonal piece.
That versatility makes the denim jacket a dream to style. So long as you avoid matching wash jeans like the plague, it’s actually very difficult to mess it up. Lighter shades work best in the summer, darker shades work best in the winter, so if you’re looking for an all-rounder a mid-wash variation will be your best bet.
Recommended brands include Taylor Stitch, Buck Mason and Uniqlo as well as denim specialists such as Levi’s, Nudie and Edwin.
Men’s style has long drawn heavily on sportswear for inspiration and in recent years that upwards curve is only getting steeper. As a result, heroes of track and field such as the coach jacket have become key garments in their own right.
This outerwear silhouette may have been designed with life on the playing field in mind, but its lightweight construction and breezy cut make it an excellent candidate for your next summer jacket.
To style it, keep things similarly sporty. This isn’t the sort of outerwear to be paired with dress pants and polished Oxford shoes. Instead, focus on laid-back weekend-friendly pieces like tailored joggers, chinos and shorts. Footwear-wise, stick to sneakers – clean and simple if you’re thinking minimalist or a colourful suede runner for something a bit more on-trend.
Recommended brands include streetwear stalwarts such as Carhartt, Champion and Stussy as well as athleisure specialists like Reigning Champ, Nike and Y-3.
Those pieces of clothing that function well across your entire wardrobe are valuable things. The types of garments you can throw on with anything and everything and not even have to think about how they look. A quality overshirt is exactly that.
A perfect layering piece in colder weather and a very capable light jacket in warmer temperatures, the overshirt hold its own year-round. Choose one in a light but durable fabric like cotton twill and you’re likely to be calling on it for many years to come.
For maximum versatility, stick to neutral and earthy colours. Or, for full summer points, pick one in a pastel shade. As far as styling goes, there are no hard and fast rules. That’s the beauty of this particular outerwear – simply throw it on and you’re good to go.
Recommended brands include affordable retailers like Arket, Reiss and Everlane, as well as traditional workwear labels such as Universal Works, Filson and Engineered Garments.
Bombers are insulated jackets designed to keep pilots toasty at extreme altitudes, aren’t they? Well, traditionally, yes. However, as menswear has evolved, this classic piece of military outerwear has adapted to cope with a range of conditions – and look the part while doing it.
The lightweight bomber jacket takes all the best parts of its insulated counterpart and repackages them into something more summer-friendly. The same cut, the same looks, but while keeping the wearer cool and comfortable.
Being a casual jacket, a light bomber works best when paired with similarly casual pieces. Things like plain T-shirts, slim-fit denim and simple white sneakers are its best friends. That said, should the situation call for it, it can be dressed up to an extent. In which case, pieces like chinos, Oxford shirts and suede loafers are the perfect accompaniments.
Recommended brands include heritage specialists such as Alpha Industries and Schott, along with contemporary brands such as Ami, NN07, Club Monaco and A.P.C.
The Harrington jacket: a pop culture icon of the highest order, steeped in a rich British heritage. Popularised by stars of the fifties, such as Elvis Presley and James Dean, this simple workwear design quickly became the hottest new thing in menswear and has remained a favourite ever since.
With a cropped fit and unlined construction, the Harrington lends itself well to summer wardrobes. Couple that with a simple design that can pair with almost anything else you could care to think of and you’ve got yourself an excellent summer jacket.
Styling a piece this versatile is easy, but look back to the jacket’s 1950’s roots if you’re in need of inspiration. A simple white T-shirt tucked into some slim-fitting jeans serves as the perfect backdrop while a pair of suede desert boots or high-top canvas sneakers finish the look off nicely.
Recommended brands include the original creator of the silhouette, Baracuta, as well as preppy and mod-leaning labels such as Fred Perry, GANT, Hackett London and Polo Ralph Lauren.
It would be nice if every summer’s day was guaranteed to be dry and sunny. Unfortunately, the reality for many of us is that geography simply won’t allow it. If you live somewhere prone to unpredictable weather, a high-quality rain shell is absolutely essential.
There was a time not so long ago when the only people wearing performance rainwear were alpine adventurers and outdoorsmen. However, with outdoor clothing very much the new workwear in men’s style terms, it is now possible to incorporate such garments into an outfit without them looking out of place.
Where styling is concerned, outdoorsy and sporty pieces will work best. But remember, this is supposed to be a jacket you can throw on with anything at the last minute. This considered, it’s probably best to spend more time thinking about the looks of the jacket itself as opposed to what you’ll be wearing with it. For maximum versatility stick to dark colours and simple, minimalist styling.
Recommended brands include Arc’teryx, The North Face, Patagonia, Moncler and Stone Island, all of which are renowned for their advanced fabrications and outdoor performance.