Outerwear: The one real reason why Fall is my favorite season.
It can be a bit overwhelming navigating the options. Especially as the menswear market expands and designers experiment, remixing and putting their own spins on classic styles.
Today, I want to make things a bit easier for you and share the best fall jacket options for men. I’ll be breaking down classic elements you should look out for with each piece, along with a few buying tips.
If it’s your first time picking up any of these pieces, I recommend you sticking with as many classic details as possible to make a more timeless option. Once you do that, or if you’re looking to pick your 2nd or 3rd option, feel free to experiment with trendier colors and different fabrics.
THE PERFECT EVERYDAY JACKET: THE FRENCH WORK/CHORE JACKET
The French work jacket has become more of a staple of men’s wardrobe lately thanks to its timeless design and practicality.
Originating in 1800s France, these blue jackets were part of the daily uniform of the working man – craftsmen, factory and rail workers, and farmers. These jackets gained a surge in popularity over the last few years thanks to the late legendary street photographer Bill Cunningham, who would wear one as often as he did his camera.
The jacket belongs to a category I’ve dubbed “Easy Jackets”: ultra versatile, ultra practical jackets that go with nearly everything.
This jacket works just as well thrown over your weekend outfit to do some errands as it does on the most stylish men during Pitti Uomo (which isn’t an uncommon sight.)
Brands have since been churning out their own variations of the classic “chore” jacket, which range in materials, details, and price.
Here’s what you should look out for when picking up a french chore jacket:
- Blue/indigo in color is the classic choice. But don’t be afraid to opt for black or olive if you want to avoid the “working class” look.
- Cotton twill or cotton moleskin is the traditional preferred fabric. Chore jackets are often worn over your regular clothes to protect them, but since you’re most likely not working in factories, I recommend looking for jackets that are a bit on the lighter weight side. Newer brands will often experiment, creating this jacket in technical waterproof fabrics, or going more luxe with materials like cashmere wools. For day to day use, I recommend the cotton.
- Unlined These jackets are usually unlined, as they’re meant to be layering pieces.
- 3 patch pockets One chest and two large pockets at the bottom. Some jackets will also have additional inside pockets, or smaller pockets inside the larger front ones.
- Button closure
Seasons: All season
The perfect transitional jacket between Summer and Fall, and great for Spring and early Summer over a button-up or tee.
In Winter, this jacket is wearable if you throw it over a warm cashmere sweater, but might not be the best option.
- The fit: You want the jacket to fit slightly oversized to allow you to layer a thin sweater underneath. If you can layer a chunky knit, it’s going to be too big.
- If you live in relatively warmer climates: Go lighter on the fabric and slimmer on the cut since you’ll most likely be wearing it with just a t-shirt or button-up.
- For color choice: The traditional blue can feel too “workwear,” this is where black or olive can be a good option if available.
- What I would look for: Medium weight cotton twill, darker navy or black, all the traditional details listed above, additional pockets inside.
THE BOMBER JACKET
Over the last few years, you couldn’t walk down the street without bumping a man wearing a bomber jacket, so you might be surprised to find it on this list.
But like the suit, I don’t think the bomber is going anywhere.
In the same way shoulder-padded blazers fell out of favor and made way for the skinny suit in the 2000s, I recommend your bomber this fall be less puffy streetwear, and more mature and luxurious with the cut and fabric choice.
- Sleek, body with no padding. Bombers were originally designed to keep military pilots warm (hence the name, Bomber). You’re probably not going to be 20,000 feet up in the air where it’s freezing. So keep it sleek and look for jackets with light to no padding.
- Ribbed collar and cuff are classic details. You can sometimes find bombers with button cuffs, but for a true bomber look, you want ribbing. High-quality ribbing should be tight and spring back when you pull it apart. Loose or flimsy ribbing will lose its shape over time, so make sure you give your cuff ribbing a gentle pull to test it out.
- Zipper fronts are common. Though some jackets will have button-up fronts. Matter of preference, but to me, it isn’t a bomber without a zipper front.
- Angled slash pockets are a classic detail. Some pockets will have zipper closures, some will have button flaps, and some will have open slash pockets. I try to stay away from zippable pockets as I’m not a fan of feeling zipper teeth when I’m using them.
- A shoulder pocket with zipper is a detail from the original military designs. Some brands choose to keep this detail, some go minimal
- Satin Nylon is the classic fabric, but it’s not uncommon to find bombers in matte cotton or wool.
Seasons: Fall, Winter, and Early Spring
Most bombers you pick up in the Fall will be lined, which provides a nice bit of insulation and stretch you to early Spring. These bombers though will be too insulated to wear as you near Summer.
Pick up a more appropriate unlined bomber when Spring comes around.
- If this is your first bomber, or you want something on the more versatile/timeless side: stick with the classic neutral color cotton or satin jacket. Black, navy, or olive will be the most versatile.
- If you already have a neutral colored bomber and want something a bit trendier:
Fall 2018 Fabric: For this season (where the 70s and 90s are big), I’m eyeing corduroy, velvet, and suede as options.
Fall 2018 Colors: Brown, burgundy, forest green
- Details I would look for for myself: Sleek body, zipper front, angled pockets with no closures (no zippers or buttons), luxe fabrics like corduroy, velvet or suede.
Entry Level: Bonobos Satin Bomber, $198 (Peter’s Choice)
Mid Range: A.P.C. Gaston Wool-Blend Bomber, $530
Premium: Stone Island Shadow Project Virgin Wool Bomber, $1,190
THE SUEDE TRUCKER JACKET
After working with thousands of guys to help them revamp their wardrobes, the single most common thing I found missing is texture.
It’s like food.
Imagine if all you food you ate was void of texture. It’s all smooth and mushy. It’s not just disgusting, it’s boring.
Same with your clothes. Texture in clothes is that visual “crunch”. That satisfying detail you first notice when you bite into the perfect french fry or fried chicken.
Suede is one of my favorite ways to add more visual texture to your look, especially when the weather starts dipping. It has a visual warmth and coziness, similar to a chunky knit sweater that’s inviting.
Just a warning: Nice suede has what I call “The Cashmere Effect”. If you invest in premium, ultra soft suede, it’s hard to wear anything else.
Seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring
Suede truckers will get you through early Fall, but during the colder months are better as layering pieces (either over a sweater or underneath a coat.)
Because most suede truckers have light to no lining, you can wear these jackets through Spring. The weight and breathability of the leather though might not be great for Summer depending on where you live. It’s best to save these for cooler months.
- The Fit: For climates that get cold, you want to make sure you have enough room to wear a t-shirt plus light sweater underneath. For warmer climates you can go on the more fitted side if you plan to one wear a t-shirt or button-up.
- Colors: The traditional color of choice here is a natural tan or brown. That would be my first choice. Tons of brands now are experimenting with colors like green, burgundy, and black, which are all great secondary options.
- Make sure yours has side pockets: As mentioned, the suede trucker essentially the same as a denim trucker. Some denim truckers are designed without the side slit pockets, which can get annoying if you’re used to them. I recommend always making sure your trucker jackets (whether denim or suede) have side pockets. While I’ve yet to see a suede trucker without side pockets, it’s something to pay attention to.
- Invest in nicer suede: While you can get the look at a budget price, this is one of those cases where it pays to invest in a nicer jacket. Low quality suede is rough and doesn’t feel nice to the touch or on – I compare stiff suede to wearing a paper bag. The stiffness makes it fold instead of conforming to your body. You want buttery soft suede found in premium jackets.
- Details I would look for myself: sleek body, zipper front, angled pockets with no closures (no zippers or buttons), luxe fabrics like corduroy, velvet or suede.
Entry Level: Banana Republic x Kevin Love Suede Trucker Jacket, $448
Mid Range: Todd Snyder Italian Suede Snap Front Trucker Jacket, $995
Premium: CMMN SWDN Suede Trucker Jacket, $1,100 (Peter’s Choice)
THE LEATHER FUR COLLAR BOMBER JACKET
I still stand by my opinion that every man should own a leather jacket. But if you haven’t pulled the trigger yet because you’re not sure you it works on you, I understand.
Leather jackets can often intimidate the more formal dresser. If this is the case, this style might be the one for you. The addition of the fur collar luxes up the jacket a bit. If you opt for a design light on the patches or fancy hardware, you got a great jacket that works extremely well thrown over a button-up and wool dress pants.
- Fur or Shearling collar Often removable. Entry level or animal conscious jackets will use faux fur, while premium jackets will use luxury animal fur like mink or the classic shearling, which comes from sheep.
- Cow leather is the most common option for a cold weather jacket as its a bit heavier and more durable.
- Lined, sometimes removable. Some higher end jackets will extend the fur into the lining, while others will have a quilted lining.
- Zipper fronts are more common, but like the fabric bombers, you can find these with button closures as well. I’d stick with the zipper fronts.
- Zipper placket are a great detail that covers the zipper to prevent cold and wind from sneaking through. Not all jackets will have these, but it’s a great detail.
- 2 Front pockets Either flap or angled, sometimes closing with snaps or buttons.
Seasons: Fall and Winter
The weight of the jacket, along with the fur collar and lining, make this jacket too heavy to wear in the warmer months.
- The Fit: Most leather bombers of these types are heavy and lined, so there’s no need to take layering into consideration. Enough room to wear a button-up or a t-shirt and thin sweater should be fine.
- The Fur: The fur being removable is a great detail, but not a dealbreaker. As for what type of fur, you’ll most likely run into shearling (which come from lambs or sheep). Synthetics technology has improved over the years, and you can find jackets with great synthetic trims. This will reduce the price significantly.
- For color choice: Brown or black. Brown is a more traditional color choice, while black brings the jacket to a more luxurious vibe, an excellent choice for dressier occasions.
- What I would look for: Black, removable shearling collar, zipper front, front flap pockets.
- If you need more advice on buying a leather jacket Check out my two posts “How to buy your first leather jacket”
Entry Level: Schott Cowhide Bomber Jacket, $885
Mid Range: Officine Generale John Shearling-Trimmed Full-Grain Leather Bomber Jacket, $1650 (Peter’s Choice)
Premium: Saint Laurent Shearling Trimmed Leather Flight Jacket, $4,990
THE EFFORTLESSLY COOL CLASSIC: THE PEACOAT
The peacoat has fallen a bit out of favor thanks to pieces like the bomber jacket, but it’s a timeless essential for a reason.
It’s a hard jacket to mess up. It’s ridiculously durable thanks to the heavy, melton wool fabric (it was designed for men serving in the navy).
An extremely versatile piece that is a strong contender for your favorite fall/winter jacket.
- Double breasted to provide extra protection from the cold and wind.
- Ulster collars collars often fold up high and can be buttoned for extra protection from the elements.
- Modern versions of the jacket are more fitted than true original navy peacoats. So keep this in mind if you’re looking to shop from army surplus shops.
- Two rows of buttons either in metal like brass or plastic, usually with anchors imprinted on them
Side slit pockets.
- Lined Often quilted
- Heavy Melton Wool is the traditional fabric, but modern luxury brands will sometimes make peacoats in fabrics like cashmere or cashmere blends. What you gain in softness you lose in durability.
Seasons: Fall and Winter
The weight of the jacket, along with the fur collar and lining, make this jacket too warm to wear in the warmer months.
- The Fit: As noted above, modern peacoats will be more fitted. I like to be able to layer a chunky sweater underneath, so if that’s a look you’re interested in go for something with a bit more room
- The Wool: Thick melton wool is extremely warm and durable. It repels water well and insulating. The only downside is that it can be thick and rough. If you want to retain the warmth and add a bit of softness, look into cashmere or cashmere blends. It will be more of an investment, and you will lose some of the durability, but the hand is exceptionally soft and luxurious.
- For color choice: Navy or black. You won’t find many more options than these two. Occasionally a grey pea coat will pop up, but I’m not a big fan of these so I would avoid them.
- What I would look for: Dark navy, melton wool, satin lining.
Entry Level: Schott Melton Wool Peacoat, $300
Mid Range: Ralph Lauren Double-Breasted Wool Blend Peacoat, $515
Premium: Dries Van Noten Caban Double-Breasted Wool Blend Peacoat, $1,690 (Peter’s Choice)
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO JACKET THIS FALL?
Share yours in the comments!