Essential Overshirts: 6 Shackets Every Man Should Own

Image Credit: Octobre

If you’re the type of guy who appreciates simplicity, versatility and classic style, the humble shacket (also referred to as an ‘overshirt‘) is no doubt a garment close to your heart. This fuss-free piece sits (as the name suggests) somewhere between a shirt and jacket, offering the best of both worlds to all who wear one.

The perfect layering piece, it can be teamed up with a mid-layer like a hoodie or sweater on cool transitional days, worn under a big coat in the darkest depths of winter, or even thrown on over a T-shirt, sleeves cuffed and unbuttoned to tackle summer in style. Generally speaking, it’s a true four-season garment, but not all shackets are created equal.

If you’ve ever shopped for a shacket before, you’ll know that this is a very broad category with lots of different options. Some are smarter than others, some are lighter than others, and some are so heavily insulated they border on outerwear territory.

Wondering what type of shacket is best for you? Below, we’ve listed all the key styles, along with some of the reasons you might want to consider adding them to your wardrobe.

The Wool Overshirt

Thick, heavy, and perfect for cooler weather, a wool overshirt offers a little more insulation and warmth than traditional cotton twill. In a dark colour, it’s a highly versatile piece that can be worn across much of your seasonal wardrobe and even layered up with heavier outerwear when the cold really starts to bite.

The tactile fabric is a bonus, too. It’s a little rough and visibly textured, which is great for livening up your outfits in a subtle way. We’d suggest wearing yours with other classic cold-weather favourites like raw selvedge denim, heavy flannel shirts and chunky knitwear.

The Chore Jacket

Built for the rough-and-tough world of manual labour, the chore jacket is a garment designed for tackling hands-on tasks. As such, it’s made using highly durable materials, cut for a comfortable and roomy fit, and finished with functional details like multiple patch pockets, a button front and a classic fold-down collar.

It’s perfect for life in the workshop, but the chore jacket’s practicality and timeless style make it excellent for everyday life, too. Often cut from heavy twill, duck canvas or drill cotton fabric, it’s substantial enough to keep you warm, but not so bulky that it limits layering options.

Wear it with other workwear staples like a heavyweight ringspun tee, raw denim jeans and some sturdy leather work boots.

The Corduroy Overshirt

A shacket is an excellent vehicle for introducing some texture into your day-to-day wardrobe, and corduroy is one of the best textured fabrics available. It’s soft, a great insulator, and has a degree of stretch that makes it super comfortable for casual wear.

You can wear a corduroy overshirt any time of year, but it works particularly well in the fall and winter. It’s cosy for layering in the cooler weather, and it looks great in earthy autumnal colours like brown, dark green, burgundy and burnt orange.

To avoid giving off geography professor vibes, we’d suggest limiting yourself to one corduroy piece per outfit.

The Heavyweight Flannel

With its blanket-like comfort and rugged yet soft hand feel, the heavyweight flannel is a tried-and-tested workwear favourite that’s ideal for cold weather. It looks great in plain block colours, but it really shines in a classic check to add some colour and pattern to casual outfits.

Heavyweight flannels are often lined with either quilting or a fleecy, faux-shearling material. But for sheer versatility, we’d say it’s best to go for an unlined version. This way, you’ll be able to get more use out of it outside of the cold months, and it’ll be easier to layer with.

Team it up with classic workaday pieces like a chore coat, jeans, boots and a parka on really cold days.

The Zip-Up Shacket

Switching the buttons for a zip is an easy way to modernise the classic shacket formula. Aesthetically, it makes the garment lean further into its jacket side, while still offering all the versatility of a shirt.

Zip-up shackets are available in countless styles and fabrics, but if you really want to play on their slightly more contemporary look, we’d suggest going for something other than classic cotton twill. For example, Stone Island, a brand famous for its fabric innovations, makes a number of zip-up overshirts in unusual synthetic materials, like its famous ‘nylon metal’ overshirt. Check out Norse Projects, Snow Peak and C.P. Company for some excellent options, too.

The Military Overshirt

The armed forces have used overshirts in various forms as part of their standard-issue kit for many decades thanks to their practicality, durability and versatility. But you don’t have to be a soldier to appreciate the perks of a nice khaki shacket. In fact, military-style overshirts have been popular among civilians for many years, and they can look great when worn with casual outfits.

There are a few different ways to approach this style of shacket. There are plenty of brands making military-inspired overshirts that riff on classic army designs while keeping things stylish and modern. If this sort of look appeals to you then we’d suggest taking a look at brands like WTAPS, Engineered Garments, Maharishi and Stan Ray.

The other option is to get rifling through the rails at your local military surplus store for a genuine artifact.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.