Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and this has never been truer for men than when accounting for the unpredictable British weather. In equal measures, we can be graced with glorious sunshine and a downpour of rain in a mere few hours. Key to combating this is making sure you invest in a trusted transitional jacket.

A transitional jacket is versatile, functional and a key purchase for these mixed-up days. It will take from summer to autumn without breaking a sweat. 

What To Look For In A Transitional Jacket

Gone are the balmy summer days, where thoughts of jackets are quickly dismissed. In autumn, the sun does still make an appearance, but so does rain and biting wind. Accessories like umbrellas are out in force and footwear becomes more utilitarian to add stability and incorporate rain-repellent properties. Likewise, with your outer garments, coats and jackets need to be multi-purpose, able to be relied on throughout the day no matter the weather.

Here are some key things to look for when buying a new transitional jacket.

Waterproof – Your suede jacket from summer is not going to cut it. A jacket needs to be able to wick away heavy rainwater, keeping whatever you are wearing beneath it nice and dry.

Lightweight – As quickly as the rain appears so can the sun. Flexibility in easily wearing or removing your jacket comes from it being lightweight. Too thick and it will be cumbersome to carry and continuing to wear it might leave you sweating. 

Colour – Muted tones come to the fore as we move towards winter. Pack away the pastels and opt for colours that represent the changing seasons. That means deeper browns, greens, reds and even burnt orange. 

Styles of Transitional Jacket

Unlike in winter where you want to be wrapped up as snug as possible when you step out the door, in autumn you have more options. The big, overbearing winter coats can be put to one side for now, because if you nail your layering, then there are plenty more autumnal jackets to choose from. For example, a denim jacket in isolation might seem too summery but layered over a knit, can be a great choice for autumn.

Here are some of the styles to consider when looking for a transitional jacket.

The Denim Jacket

As mentioned before the denim jacket, built from a robust material, can easily see you through days where there is a chill in the air.

In its simplest form, the denim jacket has rarely not been worn by the world’s most stylish men since the 80s. Denim is a sturdy material that means it will protect against the wind and its simple design enables it to transcend seasons both weather and fashion-wise.

With a neat, slightly cropped silhouette it is easy to be worn over thick cable knit jumpers or a thinner merino wool alternative. Remove the jumper and partner with a statement tee for a relaxed masculine approach.

During the colder months, we recommend seeking out denim jackets that are either padded or have shearling collars. If you opt for a classic version then you can extend its use further by using it as a statement layer under an overcoat for the deeper depths of winter.

The Mac

This is the style probably most associated with transitional jackets. Crafted from waterproof nylon or waxed cotton it gives a slightly more formal take on autumnal dressing.

The sweet spot for length is a mac that finishes around halfway between waist and knee. That way the jacket remains fluid enough for either a smart or casual outfit. A mid-length end to this piece will also allow it to be easily stored in a bag or carried without it being too much fuss.

A mac is a nonchalant piece that can be easily paired with nearly every daily go-to look. Keep the colour palette fairly neutral with blues, browns or greys to allow more wardrobe versatility. But, if you want to try something a little different, seek out patterns like dogtooth or houndstooth for a gentrified take on this classic menswear item.

The Gilet

A gilet might not be your first thought when it comes to autumn jackets. But, it’s warming, insulating properties make it a great pick for when the weather has only just turned.

Travelling to and from the office can be a pain due to differing temperatures in cars or on trains. A gilet is perfect at being warm enough to take the edge off the cold but won’t swelter you when you get into a warmer environment.

Like with the denim jacket when we layer core pieces correctly there is the ability to get much more use out of the products we buy. The gilet in its design (with no arms) ensures layering under a suit jacket or an overcoat is a cinch.

The Bomber Jacket

A style that after having a resurgence a few years back, doesn’t look like going anywhere. The bomber jackets popularity is down to its ability to transcend smart and casual looks with aplomb.

If you want it to last longer then we recommend versions with an additional shearling collar for more warmth. A nod to its heritage, the collars were introduced to keep the pilots wearing them warmer in their cold cockpits. Like with lots of military-inspired clothing though, it has become a notable option for stylish men.

Looking to wear it casual? Then partner with denim or chinos and your favourite trainers. For smarter looks, then tailored trousers and a formal shirt are the way forward. Just remember to make the jacket the focus, so use a clean minimalist foundation for the top and bottoms.

The Field Jacket

Starting off as uniform for the US military way back in 1965. Over the past 50 years, the field jacket has entered mainstream menswear and hasn’t looked back. Despite variant colours, material and subtle design tweaks, overall the jacket still stays true the original M-65 design.

Like with most military garments, the field jacket has functionality at its core. First and foremost, men relied on it to be able to keep them dry from downpours in the Vietnam jungle. But, its considered design gave them pockets for carrying supplies as well as being lightweight enough to be stored in backpacks if required.

Adept at being worn with autumnal layering pieces it will also look great worn simply with chinos and a Breton tee. From the urban landscape to rolling hills, the field jacket will be a faithful companion for any stylish gent.

Sam Brady

Sam Brady is a menswear and grooming specialist and the founder of A Gentleman's Row.

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