Womenswear Envy

As a style-conscious male, I regularly find myself jealous of our female counterparts. I mean, obviously women are incredibly graceful creatures that can seemingly create beauty out of the most simple and humble of moments. And who wouldn’t want that ability? But more often than not, I’m just envious of the sheer amount of options available to them when it comes to fashion.

Whether we like it or not, men only have so many choices to make when dressing themselves: top, bottoms, shoes and possibly an extra layer. Repeat forever. Snore.

Of course, there are plenty of things that we can learn from womenswear, but the area we’re set to focus on today is one that I’ve personally been struggling with for a while: alternatives to traditional summer jackets.

Because I’ve grown tired of my trusty trucker jacket; I’ve started to become indifferent towards my Harrington; and the shine has finally worn off my new linen sports coat. Yes, it’s time for a change when it comes to our summer top layer – but where do you start?

Alternative Summer Top Layers

Well, luckily that’s where FashionBeans comes in. As always, we’re here to offer a few helpful hints and tips when it comes to finding the right alternative summer jacket for you. But before we break down the three key styles that should be on your radar this year, bear in mind the following guidelines:

Firstly, fit is king (sound familiar?). There’s no point pulling the trigger on an item that is the perfect colour, fabric or pattern when it doesn’t fit you properly or requires more than a couple of small alterations.

It’s important to make sure the jacket fits you across the shoulders, chest and back – you don’t want the material pulling in any of these areas. The sleeves should end where the natural break in your wrist occurs and, since we are exploring warm-weather-appropriate styles, the length of the body should fall a couple of inches below your waist.

Secondly, consider the clothes you already own. I’ve seen it so many times when helping gents build a brand new wardrobe: they go out and buy a jacket in a cool colour or pattern and then realise that they have no neutral basics to pair it with, the hues clash with what they already own or – worst of all – they own too many items in the same pattern already. Remember that you’re going to be wearing this jacket with the pieces you currently have in the real world.

With that out of the way, what are the alternative outerwear styles you should be considering for the remainder of summer and transition into autumn?

The Printed Bomber Jacket

An ideal choice for this summer – and many more seasons to come with the way prints/patterns are currently dominating menswear – a printed bomber can inject a shot of life into the most mundane of looks.

Popular patterns at the moment range from camouflage and tie-dye to Hawaiian and geometrics, meaning there is a style for every taste. If you value versatility, make sure the jacket features a neutral base colour, as this will both anchor the print and allow it to become the focal point of your look.

The same applies for the pieces that you choose to pair it with – you want simple, classic and muted items that let the pattern shine. For instance, why not try combining a navy bomber with a traditional white polka dot print with some tobacco brown chinos, a white button-down polo shirt and navy loafers?

Alternatively, you could choose to make more of a statement by pairing a camo print bomber with some classic indigo selvedge jeans, beige/tan desert boots and a grey crew neck tee.

As with any trend-led piece, don’t spend too much. Classic stripes or checks will offer increased longevity, but motifs such as animal print or Aztec patterns may only have a couple of seasons wear in them.

Finally, those that want to make a slightly more subtle statement should consider those styles with printed sleeves. By restricting the pattern to your arms it reduces the impact of the piece somewhat, making it easier to wear.

Example Outfits
  • He By Mango Button-down Collar Polo ShirtHe By Mango Button-down Collar Polo Shirt
  • Libertine-libertine Fortune Polka Dot Bomber JacketLibertine-libertine Fortune Polka Dot Bomber Jacket
  • Asos Skinny ChinosAsos Skinny Chinos
  • Asos Tassel Loafers In SuedeAsos Tassel Loafers In Suede
  • Reiss Bless Basic Crew Neck T-shirt GreyReiss Bless Basic Crew Neck T-shirt Grey
  • Fred Perry Margate Camo BomberFred Perry Margate Camo Bomber
  • Jean Shop Slim-fit Rinsed Selvedge JeansJean Shop Slim-fit Rinsed Selvedge Jeans
  • River Island Brown Clarks Originals Suede Desert BootsRiver Island Brown Clarks Originals Suede Desert Boots
Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Printed Bomber Jacket Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

asosami ss13calibre ss14bally ss15marc jacobs aw13valentino ss13pull & bear ss14asos ss14Burberry Black Label aw14bershka 2014david naman ss14Brioni ss15
Key Pieces
  • Pull & Bear Denim BomberPull & Bear Denim Bomber
  • Asos Black Printed Bomber JacketAsos Black Printed Bomber Jacket
  • Asos Bomber In DogtoothAsos Bomber In Dogtooth
  • Reclaimed Vintage Bomber Jacket In Dark Based FloralReclaimed Vintage Bomber Jacket In Dark Based Floral
  • Paul Smith Jeans Bomber Jacket In Animal PrintPaul Smith Jeans Bomber Jacket In Animal Print
  • Son Of Wild Akeem Bomber Jacket With Tribal Print SleevesSon Of Wild Akeem Bomber Jacket With Tribal Print Sleeves
  • Lightweight Floral Bomber JacketLightweight Floral Bomber Jacket
  • Alexander Mcqueen Prince Of Wales Check Cashmere Bomber JacketAlexander Mcqueen Prince Of Wales Check Cashmere Bomber Jacket
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Checked Cotton Bomber Jacket 205649Marc By Marc Jacobs Checked Cotton Bomber Jacket 205649
  • Ami Striped Wool And Cotton-blend Bomber JacketAmi Striped Wool And Cotton-blend Bomber Jacket
  • He By Mango Reversible Camo-print JacketHe By Mango Reversible Camo-print Jacket
  • River Island Black Bandana Sleeve Bomber JacketRiver Island Black Bandana Sleeve Bomber Jacket
The Shacket

Is it a shirt? Is it a jacket? No, it’s somewhere sort of in-between – thicker than a shirt, but not quite a jacket – a ‘shacket’, I guess?

Of the three styles showcased, this is my favourite option due to its versatility. You can currently find them in every colour and pattern imaginable and there really is nothing it won’t go with. I own a solid navy version, another in red buffalo plaid and a statement camo print design.

On the weekends I pair them with everything from beige shorts and denim shirts to white jeans and blue polos. I also layer them over my business attire on weekdays to help combat the early morning breeze as I walk to work.

Often made from thicker fabrics such as cotton twill or denim, this type of overshirt is extremely durable – you can beat it up, fold it or pack it into a bag and it will only look better when you pull it out again.

You will regularly find me wearing my camo shacket over a white dress shirt and brown madras tie combination with some beige chinos and oxblood penny loafers.

Example Outfits
  • He By Mango Chest-pocket T-shirtHe By Mango Chest-pocket T-shirt
  • Farah Vintage Utility Jacket In CheckFarah Vintage Utility Jacket In Check
  • Officine Generale Regular-fit Cotton-twill ChinosOfficine Generale Regular-fit Cotton-twill Chinos
  • Adidas Originals Stan Smith Leather SneakersAdidas Originals Stan Smith Leather Sneakers
  • Reiss Zinc Slim-fit Stretch Shirt WhiteReiss Zinc Slim-fit Stretch Shirt White
  • Etro Check Silk And Wool-blend TieEtro Check Silk And Wool-blend Tie
  • Topman Bellfield Camo Worker JacketTopman Bellfield Camo Worker Jacket
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Garment-dyed ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Garment-dyed Chinos
  • Falke Step Invisible Cotton-blend SocksFalke Step Invisible Cotton-blend Socks
  • He By Mango Leather LoafersHe By Mango Leather Loafers
Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Shirt-Jacket (Shacket) Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

minimum summer 2013jcrew ss14h&m ss14gant rugger aw14j crew ss13dunhill ss15loeweti for men ss14bal ss14ted baker ss13Scotch & Soda Amsterdams Blauw denim collection ss14M.Grifoni denim aw13
Key Pieces
  • Jack Wills Dalmeny OvershirtJack Wills Dalmeny Overshirt
  • Asos Overshirt In Long Sleeve With Dark WashAsos Overshirt In Long Sleeve With Dark Wash
  • Fjallraven Overshirt In Buffalo CheckFjallraven Overshirt In Buffalo Check
  • J. Crew Vetra #7 Worker JacketJ. Crew Vetra #7 Worker Jacket
  • Penfield Framington Military Jacket In OlivePenfield Framington Military Jacket In Olive
  • Asos Heavyweight Overshirt In Long SleeveAsos Heavyweight Overshirt In Long Sleeve
  • Paul Smith Jeans Worker JacketPaul Smith Jeans Worker Jacket
  • Barbour Department B Chamber OvershirtBarbour Department B Chamber Overshirt
  • Asos Overshirt In Long Sleeve With Light WashAsos Overshirt In Long Sleeve With Light Wash
  • He By Mango Epaulette Field JacketHe By Mango Epaulette Field Jacket
  • Denham Mao Ric Removable Collar Camo Denim OvershirtDenham Mao Ric Removable Collar Camo Denim Overshirt
  • Folk Washed-denim Lightweight JacketFolk Washed-denim Lightweight Jacket
The Windbreaker

An alternative option if ever there was one. But hear me out: I like the windbreaker as a choice for a summer jacket, but it does need to tick a few boxes.

Firstly, it should be in a more vibrant colour like yellow, red, petrol blue or green. Neutral versions just remind me of the sort of cagoules my dad used to wear when walking in a field. Remember, a key reason for investing in any alternative item is to stand out from the crowd, not blend in.

Secondly, it should be a minimal design. Not too many zips, pockets and pull cords – just a simple lightweight jacket with a hood.

This type of jacket often looks its best when paired with athletic wear and sports luxe pieces. With this in mind, why not try combining a striking cobalt blue windbreaker with off white chinos, a white polo shirt and grown-up white leather trainers for a statement twist on this season’s big white-on-white trend?

Yet that’s not to say you can’t dress up a windbreaker. A statement yellow version can be anchored with slim-fit navy chinos and a white Oxford button-down shirt – two pieces every man should have in his wardrobe – while a pair of suede Derbies will finish this look off on the right smart-casual note.

Example Outfits
  • Reiss Kingsley Open Collar Polo T-shirt WhiteReiss Kingsley Open Collar Polo T-shirt White
  • Rains Breaker Jacket In BlueRains Breaker Jacket In Blue
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Garment-dyed ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Garment-dyed Chinos
  • Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top SneakersCommon Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top Sneakers
  • Farah Vintage Oxford Shirt With Button Down CollarFarah Vintage Oxford Shirt With Button Down Collar
  • Rains JacketRains Jacket
  • He By Mango Straight-fit Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Straight-fit Cotton Chinos
  • Menlook Label Beige Suede DerbiesMenlook Label Beige Suede Derbies
Lookbook Inspiration

Timo Weiland ss14minimum summer 2013j crew ss14zalandobershka february 2013boohoo ss14lacosteM.Grifoni denim aw13Burberry Black Label aw14comodo square ss13gap ss12hartford ss13
Key Pieces
  • Paul Smith Jeans Waterproof Jacket With HoodPaul Smith Jeans Waterproof Jacket With Hood
  • Pull & Bear Jacket With HoodPull & Bear Jacket With Hood
  • He By Mango Casual Technical JacketHe By Mango Casual Technical Jacket
  • Penfield Rain Jacket In 2 TonePenfield Rain Jacket In 2 Tone
  • Vintage One-of-a-kind Woolich Technical AnorakVintage One-of-a-kind Woolich Technical Anorak
  • Rains AnorakRains Anorak
  • Jack Wills Farnaby Wax JacketJack Wills Farnaby Wax Jacket
  • Fat Moose Trotter Hooded JacketFat Moose Trotter Hooded Jacket
  • Nike Hyper Windbreaker Jacket In Red And BlueNike Hyper Windbreaker Jacket In Red And Blue
  • Burton Bravesoul Yellow Windcheater Jacket Burton Bravesoul Yellow Windcheater Jacket
  • Topman Red Hooded Lightweight Cotton JacketTopman Red Hooded Lightweight Cotton Jacket
  • Nike Hurricane Hooded Lightweight JacketNike Hurricane Hooded Lightweight Jacket
Final Word

So there you have it, a few alternative options to consider when it comes to buying a lightweight jacket for the late summer/early autumn period.

As always, I want to hear what you have to say – which of these jackets would you opt for? Do you own any of them already? Is there another option that I didn’t consider?

Let me know in the comments section below…

Matt Allinson