Spring weather can be erratic – wild temperature swings between the 60s and 70s means you need a jacket that will keep you warm on those cool mornings and chilly nights, but also won’t make you overheat in the afternoon. Plus, you may need something to keep you dry from those spring rains. Here are five styles I mostly rely on this time of year, along with suggestions for current-season pieces across a range of prices.
Like Pete, I’m a big fan of cotton field jackets. The military style first became part of the civilian wardrobe in the 1970s, when counter-culture youths used it as a way to make a statement about the war and affect a bohemian pose. Today, the field jacket endures like blue jeans (with which they pair so well). If you find the M-65 too ubiquitous, try the M-43. Pete has a good guide to the different styles here.
Options: Engineered Garments ($417); AMI ($395); Niche ($365); Ralph Lauren ($295); 1st PAT-RN ($264); J. Crew ($198); Alpha ($180, although note these run huge), Roots ($99), Gap ($80); and vintage (generally between $50-75, and a much better value than Gap)
Soft Leather Jacket
A softer leather jacket – such as those made from calfskin or lambskin – will feel more comfortable this time of year than a heavier horsehide and cowhide. The only downside is that they’re less likely to be found at your local vintage shop, which is our usual recommendation for affordable buys. Instead, you’ll want to scour eBay and Grailed for your favorite brands. Maison Margiela made the black cafe racer above, but you can find more conservative designs from the likes of Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers.
There are plenty of options to keep you dry – trenchcoats, macs, waxed cotton Barbours, anoraks, etc. For something super casual, try a mountain parka. The short coat won’t protect you from heavy rains, but they’re great for days with unpredictable light showers. Just pay attention to the material – a 60/ 40 parka isn’t as breathable or showerproof as Gore-Tex, but it’s much more affordable.
Rugged Work Jacket
Tons and tons of styles in this category – most easy to wear in the springtime since they’re reasonably lightweight and made from cotton. Think: chore coats, coveralls, trucker jackets, etc. The tan one above is from an old season of RRL. I find it easier to wear with jeans, but hot damn if I didn’t spend an hour looking at denim trucker jackets last week after seeing this profile on Phill Kim. The nice thing about these styles: the worse you treat the jacket, the better it looks.
Options: RRL ($590); Blue Blue Japan ($555); Iron Heart ($400); S.E.H. Kelly ($325); A Kind of Guise ($298); Filson ($260); Vetra ($125); Gustin ($139); Bleu de Paname ($129); J. Crew ($118); Pointer ($107+); Levi’s ($69+), and vintage French chore coat ($50+)
Lightweight Suit or Sport Coat
For those days you don’t want look like a bum, throw on a lightweight suit or sport coat. You don’t have to go fully unstructured (I like my jackets with a slight shoulder extension), but something reasonably soft and breathable will feel more comfortable this time of year. If you’re just starting to build a tailored wardrobe, try a navy tropical wool sport coat or cigar brown linen suit. The first can be worn with almost anything, while the second can be easily broken into separates for added versatility.