Men’s Wardrobe Essentials: Lightweight Jackets

You know that confusing time when it’s still jacket weather but the temperatures are fluctuating from warm to cold and you’re chilly one minute and sweating the next? Yeah, it’s not easy to dress for that, is it? You’ve probably seen the word “transitional” used in and around this time relative to your wardrobe, but really it’s just a fancy word for “versatile”. With versatility and changing seasons in mind, let’s discuss a major key to a solid “transitional” wardrobe, the right lightweight jacket.

Whether you’re in bomb cyclone territory or more temperate parts of the country, the ideal lightweight jacket (or two!) is an important element because you can layer up or down depending on temperatures, all while maintaining style and a comfortable temperature. There are a million different versions in all manner of materials, but until you’ve completely nailed all the essentials, I recommend sticking to the classics for versatility, style and ease of wearing. No matter which one you choose or what the weather app on your phone is telling you, you can layer up confidently (t-shirt, collared shirt, sweater, whatever) for anything from work to a night out.

The Bomber Jacket

Also sometimes known as the MA-1 and tracing its lineage back to the uniform jackets designed for military pilots in World War II, the classic style and functionality of a bomber remains just as strong today as it was back then. Featuring a zip front, elastic waist and cuffs, and a low-profile collar, you can find stylish versions of the bomber in every conceivable material, from nylon and wool to cotton and suede. I absolutely love the versatility of a bomber jacket, and as I’ve said before, every man, regardless of age or body type, should have one in his closet.

outfit details here

Who Should Wear It

All body types and ages look great in bomber jackets – as long as it fits well – close to the body with arms and shoulders fitted like the above picture.

How To Wear It

A casual staple that’s infinitely versatile, the Bomber looks right at home with everything from a t-shirt and denim to chinos and a chambray or oxford shirt. Make sure the shoulder seams sit properly, almost exactly like how your suit jacket or blazer should fit and know that a bomber jacket that fits properly should stop right around your waist. Most bomber jackets are slightly shorter in the back, too, so don’t think something is wrong if you notice that. A longer bomber jacket tends to look odd and sloppy, so avoid it if you can.

For outfit ideas, see this article, as well as points 3 & 4 in this article/video.

The Trucker Jacket

Just like it’s close cousin the Bomber, the trucker jacket was born out of utility and remains a classic style piece to this day. Typically of shorter length and hitting around the hip/waist, the workwear-inspired trucker jacket often features a button or zip front, fabric-covered collar, and handy flap pockets on the front. I like all types of materials for trucker jackets but you’ll most commonly find them in sturdy waxed cotton or canvas (to protect against the elements), denim, and nylon.

outfit details here

How To Wear It

Another one my go-to casual recommendations, I love a trucker jacket with denim and desert/work boots. It looks stylishly masculine but still polished enough to be worn over a collared shirt without looking like you’re commuting to work on a horse.

For my favorite trucker jackets and the best ways to wear them, check out this article.

The Field Jacket

Going by many names (M65, Utility Jacket, Safari Jacket), this essential is just another example of how functional military-inspired designs still look sharp and stylish today. It’s slightly longer length should hit just past the hip and it commonly features multiple sets of pockets for extra utility when you’re on the go. The Field Jacket is a great protector against the weather yet light enough for the Spring’s rapidly changing temps, so look for it in cotton and nylon versions. Forest or Olive green colors are more traditional but I’m a big fan of navy (my favorite), darker browns or grays, as well.

Who Should Wear It

Stockier or larger men. The multiple pockets help break up your large top half and give a slimming appearance.

Who Shouldn’t Wear It

If you’re a slimmer guy and not 100% confident in how to wear this, avoid it because it’ll can make you look slimmer and like you’re swimming in pockets and fabric. I see this mistake more often than not. So when in doubt, skip it.

How To Wear It

Layer it over a cashmere sweater and an oxford or even your favorite dress clothes to add a bit of contrasting ruggedness to a polished look. Of course, it’s always perfect for your weekend morning coffee runs with t-shirts, jeans or tailored sweats too. I’d avoid wearing it with chino pants because the fabric weights are too similar and you’ll look like a 70’s action star pretty quickly. Ideally, you want something heavier on the bottom – jeans or wool trousers.

For my favorite field jackets and best ways to wear them, check out this article.

The Harrington Jacket

I’ve talked about my love of the Harrington jacket before, and for good reason, this jacket strikes that perfect sweet spot between casual and sporty and goes with pretty much anything. Look, if it’s good enough for style icons like McQueen, Elvis, and James Dean, it definitely deserves a place in your closet. The Harington blends a slight preppy edge with the functionality of a windbreaker and most often features a light cotton or nylon shell, zip-up front, and barrel button collar. Whether on the links, out and about, or heading to drinks, the Harrington has you covered. 

Who Should Wear It

All body types and ages look absolutely fantastic in a Harrington.

How To Wear It

The Harrington’s preppier look and vibe pairs perfectly with staples like chinos, t-shirts and button-ups, but it just as easily transitions to a casual evening out when layered with a light sweater, dark denim and sneakers or loafers. For more in-depth details, see this article/video.

The Denim Jacket

While it’s at home on the range or in a 50’s movie star’s vintage Porsche, the denim jacket can be just as stylish and useful to you on your own city streets. A classic for a reason, the denim jacket has seen a recent resurgence to staple status now that denim is pretty much everyday wear. While this short, button-up jacket doesn’t offer a ton of warmth, it’s vintage throwback style, when paired with a crisp white t-shirt or layered over a light cotton sweater, more than makes up for it.

outfit details here

Who Should Wear It

Everyone! It looks right at home on men of all ages and body types. The only caveat is if you’re an older man (50’s and above) you may want to avoid lighter colors, as it tends to look a little “trying to dress too young”, so stick to darker indigos or black if that’s you.

How To Wear It

Properly pulling off the Canadian Tuxedo is a very dicey (impossible?) move, so keep it simple and pair with chinos and black or dark denim, or opt for colors like grey, black, indigo, or light-washed denim. On the fit side, it needs to be tight in the arms and body and stop at the upper part of your waist, so keep it trim and short to avoid looking boxy or like a 90’s R&B music video backup dancer.

For more details, check out my more in-depth article/video here.

Men’s Denim/Jean Jackets & How To Wear Them

After I released my Top 5 Fall Essentials article/video, I received a lot of questions about how to style different washes of denim jackets. I heard you loud and clear, so here’s some of my favorite ways to style them.

Light Wash

To avoid looking like you’re wearing a Canadian tuxedo, wear light wash denim jackets with chinos. You can pretty much get away with any color, but my favorites are navy, green, brown, and burgundy. My classic go-to formula is a t-shirt, chinos, and chukka boots. Crewneck sweaters or oxford button-downs are also good options as well.

$230 – Allsaints denim jacket – One of my favorite denim jackets currently available. I love the lighter wash and distressed touches and the slim fit is incredibly flattering, which is really hard to find in denim jackets. It fits true to size.
$20 – Topman striped t-shirt
$68 – J.Crew slim-fit stretch chino pant in green and brown (click here for their straight leg chinos)
$128 – Brooks Brothers suede belt in brown
$295 – Allen Edmonds plain-toe chukka boots
$318 – John Varvatos sunglasses
$5 – Perlon Watch Strap

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$90 – Levi’s denim jacket (in Queen) – You can never go wrong with this iconic denim jacket. Go with the next size down for this one because it’s not as fitted as the AllSaints one above and you always want a snug fit in the arms and body for all your denim jackets.

Dark Wash

If you only have the budget for one denim jacket, a dark washed one is what I’d choose. I love how dark the wash is because it’s easier to dress it up or down and it also has a slimming effect. I would avoid wearing jeans with a dark wash jacket unless they’re black because I don’t think it looks great and typically most men don’t know how to pair different washes of denim well. You can never go wrong with a pair of chinos and a crewneck t-shirt or sweater. If you want to dress the jacket up more, than pair it with some wool trousers and a collared shirt like I did in my fall accessory essentials article/video.

$118 – J.Crew denim jacket – Definitely go a size down than normal because you want a snug fit. Otherwise, the fit will be boxy which looks unflattering on every man regardless of your body type.
$24 – J.Crew t-shirt
$225 – J.Crew striped sweater
$40 – Uniqlo chinos in navy
$179 – Johnston & Murphy chukka boots
$415 – Tom Ford sunglasses 52mm

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$90 – Levi’s denim jacket (in Rinse) – Go with the next size down because you want a snug fit.

Grey Or Black Wash

Tall, dark, and handsome is how I describe the outfit you’ll be wearing with a grey (or black) denim jacket. Keep it all black – t-shirt, jeans, and boots. You can also go with a white t-shirt but I love how sharp an all black outfit looks with a gray denim jacket adding that perfect pop of monochrome color – it’s especially perfect for a night out.

$285 – AllSaints denim jacket
$75 – AllSaints black t-shirt
$168 – Diesel jeans
$750 – Prada chelsea boots
$415 – Tom Ford sunglasses in black

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$98 – Levis denim jacket

Top 5 Men’s Fall Essentials 2017

Since Fall is upon us, I wanted to do an update and supplement to my Men’s Fall & Winter Essentials series. So don’t think of this as a replacement for the series, think of it as a next-tier type of video and article. Enjoy!
 

1 & 2. Denim Jacket + Chino Pants

My first pick for the season is a denim jacket. It’s perfect for this time of year and works equally well during Springtime, too. Not only does it look good on every body type, but you can layer the heck out of them depending on how cool or warm the weather is. I recommend my go-to styling formula for denim jackets: wear with a t-shirt or crewneck sweater and a pair of chinos and boots.

My second choice are olive, tan and burgandy chino pants. Some of my favorite colors for the season are olive green, brown, and burgundy, which you can easily wear with your other casual jackets and sportcoats.

Outfit Details & Notes

$230 – Allsaints denim jacket – One of my favorite denim jackets currently available. I love the lighter wash and distressed touches and the slim fit is incredibly flattering, which is really hard to find in denim jackets.
$20 – Topman striped t-shirt
$68 – J.Crew slim-fit stretch chino pant in green and brown (click here for their straight leg chinos) – I’m shocked at how spot on the fits and material are. The color choices and friendly price have me stocking up on a handful of these for Dorian this Fall (Seriously, I’ve already added the green and brown ones to his closet!).
$128 – Brooks Brothers suede belt in brown
$295 – Allen Edmonds plain-toe chukka boots
$318 – John Varvatos sunglasses
$5 – Perlon Watch Strap

Alternate Denim Jacket & Chinos

$70 – Levi’s trucker jacket – You can never go wrong with the brand’s iconic denim jacket.
$225 – Rag & Bone slim fit chinos – I’m a huge fan of their chinos because they use a stiffer fabric that’s lays really nicely along the ankles and is super flattering on all shapes and sizes, especially if you’re a hefty fella.

3 & 4. Patterned Sweater & Boots

My third Fall Essential is a patterned sweater. Hopefully, you’ve already got the basic, plain sweaters, so now it’s time to add one that has a subtle pattern because it’s an easy way to add a visually interesting element to your outfits. Also, a pattern helps draw attention away from the torso which is especially beneficial if you’re a slim or husky guy.

My fourth Fall Essential is a pair of boots. You can go with leather or suede, dress or casual boots, but for me, I’m all about the taupe suede boots featured below. These are my hands-down favorite for the season because the color is the perfect dark brownish-grey so they can be used in place of brown or black boots.

Outfit Details & Notes

$100 – Topman acid wash bomber jacket
$148 – Brooks Brothers cotton cashmere birds-eye sweater – The softness, color and subtle pattern instantly caught my eye. No matter your shape or size, this sweater is flattering on everyone. They run slightly larger, so you should size down for the best fit possible.
$10 – Topman slim fit t-shirt in white
$118 – Banana Republic slim fit jeans
$350 – Allen Edmonds suede boots in dark taupe
$98 – Brooks Brothers silver buckle leather belt in brown 
$125 – Ray-Ban black sunglasses
$25 – Brown Leather Watch Strap

Alternate Patterned Sweater & Boots

$89 – Banana Republic wool birdseye sweater – I’m so impressed with not only the fit, but by the superior wool you can get for under $100. The brand sourced the wool from Zegna’s factory, which is always high quality and can easily set you back $600+.
$178 – Banana Republic suede work boot

5. Chambray Shirt

My final pick for the season is a chambray shirt. It looks great on its own or layered underneath a cardigan or jacket. I recommend wearing yours with chinos or wool trousers.

Outfit Details & Notes

$55 – Topman chambray shirt – I’m a huge fan of the lighter wash, but it’s worth mentioning that this shirt runs pretty slim, so if you’re a bigger guy, see my alternate choice below.
$68 – J.Crew slim-fit stretch chino pants in green and brown (click here for straight leg chino)
$98 – Brooks Brothers silver buckle leather belt in brown
$179 – Johnston & Murphy chukka boots in mahogany 
$625 – This Is Ground briefcase
$318 – John Varvatos sunglasses
$25 – Brown Leather Watch Strap

Alternate Chambray Shirt

$55 – The Tie Bar chambray shirt – If you don’t want a super slim fit and/or you’re a larger man, then get this shirt instead.

 

Thanks for reading!

Top 10 Men’s Spring Essentials

There’s only a few weeks of Winter left, so pretty soon we’re all going to have to start thinking about transitioning to our Spring wardrobe. So in addition to your year-round Men’s Essential staples that are already in your closet, Jordan O’Brien from The Gentlemans Cove and I each came up with a list of 10 Spring Essentials that every man should own.

 

 

My Top 10 Men’s Spring Essentials

1. Lightweight, Spring Suit

Whether you go with a linen, cotton, seersucker, or lightweight wool suit, these options will make a statement and keep you cool throughout the Spring and Summer months.

Lightweight Suit Ashley Weston

$650 – J. Crew Ludlow Geyser Grey Italian Wool Suit
$500 – Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Navy Windowpane Suit 
$300 – TopMan Dark Brown / Burgundy Suit 
$105 – H&M Dark Green Cotton Stretch Suit

2. Linen or Lightweight Blazer

These lightweight blazers are perfect for casual Fridays at work or heading to lunch or dinner with friends. They’re a great way to insert a stylish statement while keeping cool. Linen will wrinkle a bit, but that’s part of its character so embrace it.

Lightweight Blazer Ashley Weston 1

$400 – Suitsupply Havana Green Check Sportcoat
$358 – Brooks Brothers Windowpane Linen Sportcoat
$168 – J.Crew Unstructured Ludlow Cotton-Linen Blazer
$99 – H&M Linen-Blend Navy Blazer  

3. Gingham Button Up Shirt

I love gingham shirts for the Spring because they can be worn dressed up with a suit or blazer or dressed down on their own or underneath a sweater. I included some great lavender, navy, and light grey gingham options below.

Gingham Button Up Ashley Weston

$450 – Ralph Lauren Purple Label Aston Gingham Dress Shirt 
$88 – J.Crew Ludlow Navy Gingham Shirt
$80 – Banana Republic Grant Fit Silver Gingham Shirt
$55 – The Tie Bar Grey Gingham Shirt

4. Silk Knit Tie

There’s no other brand that I love more than The Tie Bar. The quality, construction, and color/pattern choice can’t be beat by any other brand. Like I’ve always said, they’re not paying me to say this.

Silk Knit Tie Ashley Weston

$25 – The Tie Bar Scramble Knit Blue Polkas
$25 – The Tie Bar Knit Strip Brown
$25 – The Tie Bar Knitted Wine
$25 – The Tie Bar Midnight Navy

5. Polo Shirt

Polo shirts instantly make an outfit look more put together and Spring is the perfect time to start wearing them. I like John Varvatos, but be careful if you’re not in shape or have erect nipples because their silkier shirts will highlight these areas. The fit on Theory and Fred Perry polos is excellent and H&M is my go-to when I’m more price-conscious. You’ll need to replace those roughly every 8 weeks though due to fading.

Polo-Shirt-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Clothing-Fit-Guide $198 – John Varvatos Collection ‘Hampton’ Silk & Cotton Polo Shirt
$95 – Theory Cotton Polo
$85 – Fred Perry Navy/White Tipped Polo Shirt
$13 – H&M Polo Shirts

6. Short Sleeve Button Up Shirt

Not only do short sleeve button-up shirts look stylish, but every man (regardless of age or body type) can wear these. There’s currently so many great options from J.Crew and come March/April, Topman will have an equally great selection.

Short Sleeve Button Up Ashley Weston $480 – Prada Slim Fit Star Print Cotton Poplin Shirt
$128 – Todd Snyder Short Sleeve Floral Print Shirt
$60 – J.Crew Short-Sleeve Shirt in Jungle Print
$60 – J.Crew Short-Sleeve Oxford Shirt in Blue
$60 – J. Crew Short-Sleeve Shirt in Striped Heather Poplin 
$55 – TopMan Blue Abstract Print Short Sleeve Casual Shirt

7. Suede Bomber Jacket

I’ve maintained in some of my other videos and articles that you should save your suede for Spring. Well, it’s time to break out those items. I love the options below – you can choose from navy, light grey, and brown suede jackets. The A.P.C. jacket is a BIFL piece and will never go out of style.

Suede Bomber Jacket Ashley Weston$1,455- A.P.C. Louis W Suede Bomber Jacket
$1,085 – Hackett Mayfair Suede Bomber Jacket
$160 – TopMan Light Grey Faux Suede Formal Bomber Jacket
$160 – TopMan Faux Suede Formal Bomber Jacket

8. Penny Loafers

Finally we’re entering ankle season, which means penny loafers can finally be worn. I love Ferragamo’s loafers (I got a pair for my fiance Dorian 2 or 3 years ago) and they’re totally worth the price because they definitely hold up and still look great after years and years of wear.

Ferragamo Penny Loafer 2 Ashley Weston$760 – Ferragamo Penny Loafer Shoe
$195 – Jack Erwin Archie Penny Loafer Hazelnut
$185 – Johnston & Murphy Stratton Penny

9. Suede Monkstraps

Suede monkstraps, whether you get a dark brown, grey, or navy pair, can just take an outfit to another level. It’s such a stylish touch to any outfit and can be worn with a suit, chinos, or jeans. Make sure to Scotch Guard them before you wear them for the first time – always gotta protect your suede items!

BB Suede Monk Straps Ashley Weston$698 – Brooks Brothers Navy Suede Double Monk Strap
$398 – Brooks Brothers Suede Double Monk Strap Shoes
$275 – Crosby Square Conley Double Monk Strap Shoe (Espresso and Navy)
$80 – H&M Suede Monkstrap Shoes

10. Chinos

Chinos should only be worn in Spring, Summer, and early Fall and that’s it. They’re a great alternative for those days when you don’t feel like wearing jeans and when you want to just feel cool and comfortable.

Chinos Ashley Weston$575 – Maison Margiela Cotton-Twill Chinos
$75 – J.Crew Broken-In Chino in 484 Fit
$30 – Uniqlo Slim Fit Chinos
$30 – H&M Chinos Skinny Fit

Jordan’s 10 Men’s Spring Essentials

1. Huaraches

These as well as other great alternatives were included in my Summer Essentials E-Book. A lot of Jordan’s picks I actually included in that e-book so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already 🙂

Huaraches Ashley Weston $165 – Vintage Artisan Classico Brown
$88 – Chamula D.F. Dk. (Brown or Navy)
$88 – Chamula Cancun with Natural Crepe Sole

2. Linen Suit

Linen, as well as the other lightweight fabrics I also included in my list, is very breathable and will keep you cool during the warmer months. Here are some of my favorite items currently available.

Linen Suit Ashley Weston$2,000 – Burberry Slim Fit Wool Silk Linen Three-Piece Part-Canvas Suit
$349 – Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Check Linen Suit
$99 – H&M Linen-Blend Suit Jacket
$50 – H&M Linen-Blend Suit Pant 

3. Panama Hat / Straw Fedora

Whether you need some extra sun protection or want to look stylish while staying cool, straw hats are super breathable and lightweight. Every year I get J.Crew’s panama hat, but it only lasts the season before it starts to fall apart. I’m currently eyeing Loro Piana, Brooks Brothers and Stetson’s hats because I know I can count on the quality and construction.

Panama Hat Ashley Weston 1$735 – Loro Piana Laurence Straw Panama Hat
$298 – Brooks Brothers Straw Fedora
$287 – Lock and Co Napoli Hat
$105 – Stetson Men’s Centerdent Fine Panama Hat
$65 – J. Crew Paulmann panama hat with striped band

4. Basic Striped T-Shirt

Striped t-shirts are super easy to insert into your current wardrobe. They look great with your suits, blazers, bomber jackets or just on their own.

Stripe Tshirt Ashley Weston$90 – Todd Snyder Slim-Fit Striped Cotton T-Shirt
$88 – Todd Snyder Fine Stripe Button Pocket T-Shirt in Maroon
$60 – J. Crew Wallace & Barnes Indigo T-Shirt in Stripe
$45 – J. Crew Garment-Dyted T-Shirt in Microstripe
$35 – TopMan Selected Homme Navy and Off White Stripe T-Shirt

5. Long Sleeve Henley Shirt

I like long sleeve henleys when they’re worn as a layering piece, so underneath a casual button down shirt paired with some dark wash jeans and boots or sneakers. If you’re a slim or wider gentleman, I highly advise against wearing henleys on their own because they emphasize your body size even more (and not in a good way).

Long Sleeve Henley Shirt Ashley Weston$150 – Rag & Bone Slim-Fit Mélange Cotton-Blend Jersey Henley T-Shirt
$59 – L.L. Bean Signature Slub Henley
$39.50 – J.Crew Slim Broken-In Henley

6. Denim Jacket

If you’re new to wearing denim jackets, I suggest going with a black or dark grey version because it’ll be a lot easier to wear, especially if you wear jeans a lot because you don’t want to look like you’re wearing a Canadian tuxedo.

Denim Jacket Ashley Weston$295 – Rag & Bone Standard Issue Washed-Denim Jacket
$195 – All Saints Mens Hockett Denim Jacket
$90 – Levi’s The Trucker Jacket (in rinse or lamar black stretch)
$40 – H&M Denim Jacket

7. Lightweight Jacket

On those windy or rainy days, having a lightweight jacket that can combat the elements while looking stylish is always what I strive to find.

Casual Jacket Ashley Weston$280 – Saturdays Travis Windbreaker (Sage or Clay)
$200 – J. Crew Field Mechanic Jacket
$160 – Under Armour Sportswear Meters Panelled Shell Hooded Jacket
$40 – Uniqlo Lightweight Packable Hooded Jacket

8. White Sneakers

I have a whole video and article dedicated to white sneakers because I truly believe every man, regardless of age or body type, should own a pair.

White-Sneakers-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-EssentialsHeader$100 – Nike Tennis Classic Ultra
$75 – Adidas Originals Stan Smith Sneaker
$65 – Converse ‘Jack Purcell’ Classic Low Top Sneaker

9. Classic Timeless Pair of Sunglasses

Be sure to check out my Sunglasses story for specific options I recommend based on your face shape.

Rayban Wayfarer Ashley Weston$325 – Oliver Peoples L.A. Coen Sun
$140 – Ray Ban RB2132 58 New Wayfarer
$95 – Warby Parker Barkley Sunglasses
$95 – Warby Parker Beckett Sunglasses

10. NATO Strap

Interchanging your watch straps is an easy way to insert some fun and personality into your outfit.

NATO Strap Watches Ashley Weston

Here’s a great place for straps that I love – these are my favorite for Spring:
$8 – Navy Perlon Nato Strap
$8 – Navy and Grey Nato Strap
$8 – Dark Brown Perlon Strap
$8 – Grey Perlon Strap
$9 – Black, Red, And Green “JAMES BOND” PVD Nato Strap

As far as watches go, see my Watch article/video.