As it gets colder, we dust off the cable knits and hoodies in a half-arsed attempt to keep warm, but the gloves, peacoat and scarves remain out of sight. This transitional autumnal period makes it incredibly difficult for us gents to secure a look that is both stylish and practical – the evenings are certainly sharper, but we don’t want to look as if we’re preparing for an alpine adventure.
This, my friends, is where the humble jacket comes into play. However, with such a wide variety of pieces available, which one do we go for?
The secret here is finding a jacket that suits your everyday needs, with enough versatility to make those precious pounds go all the way. Here at FashionBeans, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite styles that are perfect for countless different occasions and lifestyles – now it’s up to you to choose the jacket that fits.
This 90s staple has seen a resurgence in the last few years, and the denim jacket has never been stronger. Whether going for an oversized stonewashed look or a more fitted shearling number, donning this particular jacket screams East London cool-casual. However, it could be argued that humble denim is far too casual for more formal events – and the office environment is no different. It simply just won’t cut the mustard.
Denim jackets also mean that we should avoid similar shades of the same fabric at all costs; the all-denim look is so, so, so difficult to pull off that I would strongly advise people to leave well alone. There’s a fine line between vintage cool and absolute tool.
Pros: Relatively affordable, casual, lots of varieties.
Cons: A little too casual, makes teaming with other denims difficult.
It’s always been cool, and it always will be.
Choosing a leather jacket provides an edge to almost any outfit if you’ve selected something half decent, and you’ll be following a long tradition of style that involves everyone from the greasers of the 50s to blue collar workers in the American wilderness.
When combined with an all-black look or simply thrown over a shirt, the leather jacket instantly oozes quality and a style that is endlessly classic. This quality, however, comes with a price tag. As some of you may know, I’ve never been an advocate of pleather, and designer leather can literally go up into the thousands. Not everybody is that keen on making such a committed investment, and the leather jacket isn’t the most accessible of our autumn jacket selection.
Pros: Classic, strong look, makes you feel like James Dean.
Cons: Unsuitable for more formal events, somewhat expensive.
A rather recent addition to menswear favourites, the varsity jacket slowly crept back onto the style radar after years of woeful ‘High School Musical’ association. Fortunately, one can wear them without flickering jazz hands and that God awful Glee-rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’.
The varsity jacket is a cost-effective option; it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing Hermes or H&M, you’ll have gained a weather-proof piece that is effortlessly fun and youthful.
Youthful, though, is the operative word here. After becoming a firm staple of the city-centre-roaming fifteen year old, I’m becoming increasingly wary of the varsity jacket as I near 22; dressing age-appropriate is essential even for us fellas. Counteract this by selecting your style carefully and pairing with smarter pieces, as Will explained in his excellent article on the ‘Varsity Jacket Revisited’.
Pros: On-trend, versatile.
Cons: Geared towards a younger market, slightly overdone.
Although extremely overdone during the Libertine craze of the mid-2000s, the trench coat (or jacket, ahem) is still a formidable contender as the perfect autumn piece. The lack of heavy, weatherproof lining makes the trench a versatile, comfortable jacket that is ideal for chilly nights without the need for thick wools or leathers.
Whether beige, burgundy or black, it’s a fast route to smart territory and you can channel the Burberry style without forking out thousands of pounds. However, it’s easy to look like a banker if teamed with nondescript suit/tailored pieces, so keep certain items for office hours only.
Pros: Incredibly elegant yet still masculine, affordable.
Cons: Liverpool St. standard uniform.
The humble blazer is the ultimate in versatility, and is a tried and tested method of style. There are a few rules to follow though, and some forms of blazer-donning are truly unacceptable. Never team with a graphic t-shirt or heaps of tacky jewellery: it’s not 2003, and it’s not the VIP section of Oceania.
A simple tweed or charcoal number can look fantastic with a simple shirt and jeans, however, and dressing a blazer down is a lot simpler than most would think. Finding the right size, material and level of formality is the tricky part though, and a suit jacket doesn’t always translate well to everyday wear.
Pros: Classic, instant level of refinement.
Cons: Difficult to secure that perfect blazer.
A newcomer during autumn/winter show season, the shirt jacket is the perfect casual companion to any outfit during the chillier months. Whether made of simple linen or Midwestern-inspired workwear checks, the shirt jacket has all the conventional practicalities of a good coat, without you actually needing one.
When teamed with a t-shirt, it’s a weather-proof defence and a guaranteed problem solver for those who hate the routine and rigmarole of a stuffy duffle coat. However, those looking for a clean-cut, sharp silhouette will struggle – the shirt jacket is the ultimate in casual day-to-day wear, and isn’t the most formal-friendly choice.
Pros: Solves the tricky nightclub jacket conundrum.
Cons: Over-layering can result in a very hot jacket, could be too casual.
A comfortable hybrid between the humble cardigan and autumnal jacket, many will breathe a sigh of relief at this cosy knitwear. Boasting thickness that acts as fantastic weather protection, the knitted jacket is still versatile, flexible and casual enough to throw over any regular ensemble.
Good quality wool comes with an eyebrow-raising price tag, but there are plenty of high street options that are still worth every penny. A certain Antarctic expeditionary feel reinforces the knitted jacket as a particular favourite in the perfect autumnal jacket debate, but any rain and you’re in for a disaster. Wet weather will dampen both your style and spirits – wool just isn’t the best all-season material.
Pros: Elegant without trying too hard, stupidly comfortable.
Cons: Can cost a small fortune, not geared up for unpredictable British weather.
So, take your pick from the above options for a stress free, style maximum autumn. Whether you’re student that forever lives in the denim jacket or a more mature gent with a few extra quid for that Kooples trench, finding the perfect season-transitional coat doesn’t need to be a difficult task. Assess your own lifestyle, and choose a piece that fits in with that.
Getting your wear out of a more expensive item is the most important part when ‘investment buying’, so think sensibly and always look for comfort – after all, it’s your style, your decision, and your perfect autumnal jacket.