Spring Style Suggestion: The Denim Jacket

Denim on denim. Floral short-sleeve shirt by Express. Jacket by American Apparel. Loafers by Bass. Jeans by J. Crew (484 fit).

Denim on denim. Floral short-sleeve shirt by Express. Jacket by American Apparel. Loafers by Bass. Jeans by J. Crew (484 fit).

Spring is one of the more difficult times of the year to find the right balance between what to wear outside and inside. There aren’t necessarily any one-size-fits-all solutions, particularly in terms of outerwear. In the winter, that navy peacoat can pull duty nearly every day of the week, similar to how a lighter-weight military jacket could work on top of other layers in the chill of fall. In the spring though, you might see a slight chill in one part of the day, and then the heat of the sun in the afternoon, for example. A standard Harrington jacket could work tremendously of course in the rain, but the denim jacket is a particularly underrated style accessory, in that it works outside and inside in multiple types of weather.

It’s gotten more play over time in the #menswear community, especially in recent years, and rightfully so. Some don’t particularly like the look, but It’s definitely got a sort of rugged appeal to it that brings to mind modern-day style icons like Daniel Craig and Ryan Gosling. Of course, no mention of the denim jacket is complete with bringing up this stylish singer here. A big debate comes into play, however, on the feasibility of rocking double denim. The most important thing to keep in mind is texture and wash — keep those washes separate if you dive into this look, like the photos seen here (dark jacket, light jeans and vice versa).

Rocking double denim. Jeans by J. Crew (484 fit). Jacket by American Apparel. Henley by Mossimo. Loafers by Bass.

Rocking double denim. Jeans by J. Crew (484 fit). Jacket by American Apparel. Henley by Mossimo. Loafers by Bass.

And although Daniel Craig rocks a lightwash number, the most versatile denim jacket is just like your favorite pair of blue jeans — dark blue with a modern, slimmer fit. It should hit above the waist (or about at the waist), with slimmer sleeves and a more fitted body (like this American Apparel jacket).

In addition to a slim cut, the denim jacket (like the one seen from American Apparel) is a great transitional outerwear piece because it’s heavy enough to wear over a plain henley in a slight chill, yet could also work when worn over something like a collared shirt. And it works with chinos or trousers — as well as denim — because it’s a dark, clean slate from which to build in other colors or textures.

Glasses by Burberry. Watch by Timex, strap by The Knottery.

Glasses by Burberry. Watch by Timex, strap by The Knottery. Belt by Mossimo.

It’s the rugged man’s answer to the navy blazer in these modern times — because (ideally) the jacket is dark blue and fitted, it can function just like the blazer while lending more functionality in terms of an outer layer. Unlike the navy blazer however, it can definitely take a beating, and it doesn’t need to be treated with the same sort of reserve as a blazer. It can stand up to a slight rain and some chill, which actually might give it more character. And a medium or lightwash number is yet another piece to consider adding when you need to mix and match types of outerwear.

Another denim-on-denim shot. Mix up the casual nature of that jacket by pairing it with a printed shirt.

Another denim-on-denim shot. Mix up the casual nature of that jacket by pairing it with a printed shirt.

Like so much of American style nowadays, it also brings to mind Western and workwear-inspired vibes (a personal style favorite). And over time, a denim jacket can break in like your favorite jeans, telling a uniquely personal story that reflects who you are and the way you dress — a lot of mileage out of one jacket, right?

Winter Style Suggestion: The U.S. Navy Peacoat

One of the great things about menswear is that so many outfits start with simple, classic pieces. These are likely already items you might have hanging around your own closet, and if not, there are definitely affordable ways to make it happen. Something that you would feasibly wear everyday is a good place to start in terms of classic looks, and in the dead of winter, a strong, substantial peacoat won’t leave you out in the cold.

The right peacoat can pass any muster test, particularly when it comes to standing up against snow or rain (and if you’re in peacoat country, those are probably the two types of weather you’re apt to run into most). We’ve seen a trend of dressing up outerwear — and that outerwear actually functioning as a stylish upper layer — but if you’re looking for classic function over form, there’s hardly a better place to start looking than a U.S. navy peacoat. In fact, substantial evidence suggests that these coats are probably out there in droves at surplus stores and Goodwill-type places, making it a downright steal for a coat that’s thick, warm and highly durable.

A classic. The U.S. Navy Peacoat — as authentic as it gets.

A classic. The U.S. Navy Peacoat — as authentic as it gets.

The Siblings With Style Michigan hub was lucky enough to score a substantial upgrade from a beaten-to-shreds Express peacoat (something like this minus the colorblocking), to a coat that’s authentic and incredibly historical. Now, this item wasn’t tracked down at a surplus store, but this time around, it’s the real deal. Worn by my great-grandfather during his time serving in World War II, it has an unbelievable history of being passed down through multiple relatives, and it’s held up incredibly well for a jacket about seven decades old.

Interesting details on the jacket's front buttons.

Interesting details on the jacket’s front buttons.

That certainly means it’s somewhat delicate, and will probably be mixed in with other outerwear options as opposed to extreme degrees of everyday wear. However, the fit is spot-on. It actually fits trim but not tight, leaving room for layering. The buttons are heavy and substantial, the collar is thick enough to stand up to Michigan winters, and the coat has  kept its rich navy color, making it easy to pair with about anything.

Certainly, it’s an item that has more historical value than a typical peacoat found at a surplus store, but it falls in the same ballpark quality and looks-wise. It’s a jacket that’ll do just fine in the Michigan winter and then some. And, although this one was a family-related upgrade, chances are fantastic that a similar option is out there at a surplus store (or thrift shop?) near you. Happy hunting.

Fall Style Suggestion: Military-Inspired Outerwear

Fall is can be a tricky time for those of us interested in menswear. It’s not quite yet cold enough at this stage (at least in my neck of the woods) to wear heavy fabrics like tweed or a nice wool peacoat, yet there’s still the odd, slightly warm day. Transitioning between seasons like summer and fall is probably more difficult than transitioning between spring and summer or even fall and winter. A lot of it comes down to shelving bright summer colors and shifting to more seasonally appropriate hues. An even bigger part of the transition ties in recognizing textural differences and phasing fabrics out of your wardrobe (less lightweight linen or linen-cotton blends, and slightly heavier textures like corduroy, for example).  A great guide to making the transition stylishly can be found here, courtesy the great team at Primer.

Not quite warm enough for a lighter-weight Harrington jacket, but not quite full-on winter yet.

Not quite warm enough for this lighter-weight Harrington jacket, but not quite full-on winter yet.

Now, textural differences are also important in terms of outerwear, as layering multiple pieces in lighter or heavier weights can dress an outfit up or down.  Keep in mind that something like a hooded sweatshirt or standard winter coat just won’t do for a polished option. Looking for a sharper military silhouette in a lighter weight is one way to harness the crisp appeal of a spring-weight Harrington jacket. Military-type jackets might be a bit trendy for some, but it can also bring som serious, slightly rugged appeal. With brands like Barbour, the jacket has surged back into the spotlight across the past year, thanks in no large part to a certain secret agent.

Strong military-inspired details, a trim silhouette, perfect layering weight — the Aurora jacket from F&O.

Strong military-inspired details, a trim silhouette, perfect layering weight — the Aurora jacket from F&O.

Now, that Barbour jacket is…well, on the pricey side, for all its great looks. Other, slightly more affordable options are out there by the dozens, it seems. Personally, the Aurora Military Jacket by Frank & Oak hits the sweet spot. The sleeves and body are trim ( in a size Medium), the armholes are high without being restricting, and the jacket’s lines are clean (there’s not much excess material anywhere). It’s still relatively lightweight and waterproof with a cotton-nylon exterior, but it feels more substantial. That means it can be tossed on over a v-neck sweater and an OCBD while still functioning well. If it gets too hot, strip off a layer under the jacket. Too cold? Add a denim jacket or another layer over a sweater and OCBD — and put that underneath the jacket. The price point is within reach for most (and if you’re a member of the Hunt Club, store credit could apply here, too). And, its military-inspired looks are on-point both stylistically and fashionably. Toeing that line can be tricky, but if there’s any jacket that can crisply and effectively cross the divide between fashion and style (as well as the start of fall and the start of winter), a strong military piece can be a tremendous wardrobe addition.