Spring is arguably the toughest time of year to dress with any great confidence. You can leave the house under thick grey clouds and a wall of drizzle, only to find yourself enjoying your lunch on a sunlit terrace, and making your way back home in the bracing cold come evening.
Luckily, there are plenty of outer layers that are bound to make your life considerably easier over the coming months. And, to make things even better, they can often be worn together, mixed and matched to create combinations signature to you.
From a hoodie under a denim jacket providing an extra barrier at post-work pints, to an overshirt slipped beneath a chore jacket for the brisk morning walk into work, spring jackets give you options. Here we break down our favourite styles, from relaxed to buttoned-up, subtle to statement-making.
Spring Jacket Styles Every Man Needs
No matter how many cord collars, fleece linings and distressed rips you can chuck at it, the design of the denim jacket remains comfortingly constant – it’s remained unchanged for decades. In fact, the style can be traced back to Levi’s’ original ‘triple pleat blouse’ of 1880, which was designed for real men working the Californian gold mines, but it’s since been nicked by pretty much every style tribe out there.
“Denim is a great all year round fabric but looks particularly fresh in spring when worn with a striped Breton top,” says Sarah Gilfillan, founder of personal styling consultancy Sartoria Lab. “This is a perfect time to do some vintage shopping and go for one of the big three classic denim brands – Levi’s, Lee or Wrangler. Choose from an on-trend oversized style or stay classic with a fitted version.
“Unless you’re confident about your ability to do double denim, I’d wear it with chinos, a grey-marl sweatshirt and white trainers for a simple, failsafe spring outfit”, says Gilfillan.
‘April showers’ isn’t just a myth, you know. It rains in spring. A lot. Denim and untreated cotton or wool get soggy in downpours due to their ability to absorb and retain water, which is why you need a technical jacket. Crafted out of nylon, polyester blends or waterproofed cotton or wool, these parkas and anoraks are specially designed to battle the rain and keep you dry underneath.
Frazer Goater, menswear stylist and Topman personal shopper, says to make sure your waterproofs are lightweight and breathable while keep an eye look out for a wind-resistance fabric to keep out the chills.
“Brands such as The North Face and Adidas SPEZIAL have both revisited the archives for a new take on the previous shell anorak style for SS19. Pair with cargo trousers and canvas trainers to mix an outdoor lifestyle with modern city style.”
From the desert boot to the current warcore fad, the military has long inspired fashion, but not many pieces have left as much of a mark as the field jacket. First made for the US army, its practicality and versatility served it well throughout its service.
Both lightweight and hard-wearing, the thick cotton twill or waxed canvas construction ensures the field jacket is more than up to the job of repelling the worst of spring weather. Its slightly boxy fit means it’s ideal for layering and some even come with a belt that cinches the waist for that oft-desired superhero V-shape. And if you like pockets, boy, you’re going to get pockets – the classic will have at least four.
The style has become widely adopted among British heritage brands like Private White V.C. and Belstaff, and the jacket works best styled with other well-to-do pieces like a neat pair of tailored trousers and a slim-fitting shirt or lightweight knit.
Another ‘military brat’, the bomber jacket has gone up and down in popularity since its introduction as a flight jacket in World War I. The style’s most recent resurrection came when Kanye West wore a customised version of the OG bomber jacket – the MA-1 by Alpha Industries – on his Yeezus tour and it has since become a firm favourite among the street-wearing hip-hop crew.
The wide-cut of the jacket across the chest blows out your upper body proportions for a flattering silhouette that will work for even the most pigeon chested out there.
“It’s the most versatile of lightweight jackets,” says Goater. “Wear sized up over hoodies and graphic tees for a relaxed style or opt for a bomber in a cotton or suede fabric teamed with a crisp white tee and cropped trousers for a smarter look.”
Fancy yourself as a bit of a film noir leading man entering the scene through a veil of smoke? Then make like Bogie and Mitchum and nab yourself a trench coat this spring.
In simple terms, the trench coat is a three-quarter length coat designed to keep you dry, and traditionally comes complete with a plethora of details including a belted waist, a double-breasted front, shoulder epaulettes and buttoned cuffs. The style is as versatile as you like, working for mid-century purveyors as well as street wearing kids checking their phones while queueing for the latest Supreme drop. It’s also one of the few spring jackets that works well over a suit any those worried city slickers reading this.
“It’s a true wardrobe staple that can be easily adapted into any new season trend,” says Goater. “I’d pair one with some chunky trainers, baggy denim, pastel hues & bucket hat for a proper bit of 90s nostalgia.”
There’s no time machine out there that’s going to zap you back to those halcyon college days. But you can at least try and recapture the glory by picking up an evergreen varsity jacket.
Also known as a letterman jacket because of the school or college’s initials that were traditionally sewn on the breast, the style is similar to the bomber jacket with its upper body enhancing cut. Points of difference come from the boiled wool torso and button fastener which makes it more of a cosy experience for the wearer although beware of the rain.
Eyeing up a potential letterman for spring? “I’d suggest having some fun and going all out with colour and embroidery,” says Gilfillan. “Also with no need for scarves or layers in the warmer spring weather, you can show off your jacket and let it take centre stage with a simple and sporty outfit. A white T-shirt with navy tailored track pants will do nicely.”
The antithesis to over-hyped, mortgage frittering streetwear brands, workwear is timeless, practical style made easy (and inexpensive). Its hero piece is the chore jacket, which was designed for workers to perform chores in (imagine that), hence the simple cut, multiple pockets to hold your knick-knacks and sturdy but lightweight cotton construction.
“The simple, utilitarian style of a chore jacket lends itself well to cobalt blue, bright tan or rich khaki,” notes Gilfillan. “Choose one in cotton for maximum versatility and wear it whilst it’s still cold under a heavier coat, with a chunky knit and then as it gets warmer, over a T-shirt. Don’t just save it for casual outfits either. It also looks great layered over a soft collared shirt and smart cotton trousers.”