8 Summer Jackets Worth Adding To Your Wardrobe
From lightweight bombers to unstructured blazers, each of these jackets is breathable, lightweight and stylish.
By the time summer has come round, buying a ‘jacket’ is not something that feels appropriate. Shorts, yes. Camp collar shirt, naturally. Sunglasses, goes without saying. But a jacket? Well as you will see, a summer jacket is definitely not surplus to requirements. In fact, it’s a key outer layer that can add formality, structure and utility to a summer outfit.
Fabrics such as cotton, linen and even suede come into their own in the warmer months, adding a subtle textural element to pared-back looks. Whatever your style, we’ve curated our must-have summer jackets that will effortlessly slide into even the most discerning of wardrobes.
A mainstay of any discerning Italian man’s summer wardrobe, the linen blazer is that perfect amalgam of sartorial finesse and relaxed refinement. The slubby, wrinkled nature of linen brings down the formality of the blazer, while also being lightweight and breathable, two non-negotiable characteristics of a summer jacket.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can only wear it to smart occasions – the linen blazer is casual enough to combine with cotton Bermuda shorts, a polo shirt and slides.
When it comes to the linen blazer, opt for an unstructured style, rather than one with padding, because linen has a very natural drape that improves with age. Single-breasted jackets with a single-button fastening are definitely more versatile than the double-breasted option but the latter looks sublime in neutral tones for smarter fits.
When it comes to colour, typical summer neutrals (off-white, beige, light blue, stone) will help to keep your styling options open but don’t be afraid of striped versions which can be really impactful.
How to wear it
Relaxed tailoring is the look we’re going for here, so think linen shirts, short-sleeved shirts, Cuban collar styles and knitted polos for a sprezzatura vibe. Down below, look to neutral coloured chinos bookended with some suede loafers or driving shoes.
For a more off-duty feel, pair the blazer with some cotton tailored shorts and loafers or sandals. Chic, without even trying.
The classic four-pocket field jacket is one of those gems from the menswear military archive – part form and part function, but all masculine style. Typically crafted from rugged cotton twill, these days you can find more refined versions in linen (they wear more like overshirts than jackets).
The colour palette, as you might expect for a military piece, is typically khaki or olive drab, but we’ve seen some fine examples made in tobacco and white linen this season.
The main point to consider when purchasing a field jacket for the summer is the fabric. More rugged styles are usually cut from a midweight cotton canvas, but for the warmer months you want something a bit lighter.
Linen (Irish or Belgian) is a great choice, as mentioned above, and you can wear it more like an overshirt than a jacket. Belted versions offer a bit more formality, for those that want to dress theirs up for the office.
How to wear it
The field jacket will slide into any workwear-inspired look over the summer months and is a great complement to the neutral tones in your wardrobe.
Cotton chinos and tailored shorts are the obvious pairings, but the field jacket will also work nicely with stonewashed denim. Keep the layering uncomplicated with a simple white tee, and if you want to add a flourish then go for a contrast neckerchief.
As the name might suggest, the chore jacket’s original intention was a utilitarian one, designed for the French working class and blue-collar workers (in France it’s known as bleu de travail) in the late 1800s.
Traditionally made from hardwearing cotton drill, and dyed in a ‘hydrone’ blue hue, it was quickly appropriated by railroaders in the US. With a boxy cut, button front and pocket details, it’s a great workwear-inspired overshirt you can wear with any number of off-duty summer looks.
Much like the field jacket, ensure you choose a cotton or linen version. Pocket details vary but usually the chore jacket will have two front patch pockets and one breast pocket at the very minimum.
Blue is the traditional tone (the great street photographer Bill Cunningham was never seen in anything else) but you’ll find plenty of navy and khaki options, too.
How to wear it
As easy as you like, the chore jacket doesn’t stand on airs and graces. The more casual the outfit the better, so think jeans and a simple white tee (or Breton) and perhaps a pair of chukka boots as a nod to the jacket’s utilitarian origins.
One collar is enough, so don’t complicate things with a shirt, unless you go for a band/grandad collar.
Yet another military-inspired jacket, the bomber can be something of a year-round outer layer depending on the cut and fabric it’s constructed from. As we’re talking about summer, the bombers we’re focused on here are made from midweight cotton with little-to-zero padding.
It should still have the trademark elasticated ribbed collar and hem. Otherwise, look out for technical fabrics such as polyester for a modern contemporary streetwear vibe that will protect you from any sudden downpours.
The MA-1 flight jacket is the go-to silhouette for all modern bomber jackets, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. When it comes to the technical styles, additional pocket details will add an urban edge, otherwise keep the look minimalistic and sophisticated.
You could consider a varsity jacket if you prefer a preppier look, with plenty of luxury brands producing summer-weight options.
How to wear it
Cotton styles pair well with denim jeans and sneakers. The clean silhouette and neckline of the bomber works well in an all-black look, too, especially when the fabric is a technical one.
We’d avoid wearing any sort of colour underneath the bomber as that will jar with its relaxed neck – a simple tee will more than suffice.
First designed and popularised by Baracuta, its original G9 Harrington jacket is still, to this day, peerless among casual jackets. Much imitated, the G9 has bred an entire genre of lightweight windbreaker-style men’s jackets from fast fashion to luxury brands.
Characterised by the two slanted side-entry pockets and fold down collar that pops up into a storm collar, it’s an extremely versatile style for your off-duty summer looks.
Most brands, Baracuta included, will typically offer cotton or cotton blended with a technical fabric such as polyester, just to give you that extra bit of weather-proofing.
At the upper end of the price scale, you might want to consider suede or even leather Harringtons. Keep the pattern to a minimum – the original G9 has a check lining but a plain exterior – although some plaid versions (such as on offer from Burberry this season) can look very sophisticated.
How to wear it
Any number of trouser styles will suit the Harrington so long as they are not too formal. Jeans and chinos are both good options along with casual short styles such as Bermudas.
A contrast or tonal colour T-shirt is all the layering you need up top since the Harrington works best within an unfussy, relaxed look.
On the smarter end of the summer jacket spectrum comes the double-breasted blazer, an excellent option for dressier wardrobes and sartorial heads who like to do things old school.
There’s just something innately elegant about that partially wrapped closure and the way the lapels cut across the torso to frame the face.
As with any tailored jacket, cut is vital. But especially for the double-breasted jacket, which can be very unforgiving if not fitted properly – so ensure you do your homework or have an excellent alterations guy.
Lapels (peak please), namely their width, are personal preference but a rule of thumb is that they should be at least as wide as your face.
In terms of fabric, wool can be too stuffy and formal in the summer, so we’d opt for cotton, linen or silk if you’re feeling fancy. Go easy on the padding and canvassing, too.
How to wear it
The classic double-breasted jacket for summer is typically navy, which is inherently smart and pairs well with white and ivory. A white linen or soft chambray shirt worn with white chinos or cropped tailored trousers and finished with loafers is a smart approach, but swapping the shirt for a Breton tee will dial the look down.
Other blazer tones such as tobacco, cream or sky blue again look great teamed with lighter coloured chinos. The takeaway is to not over-egg the look as the jacket is enough of a statement on its own.
While you might at first think that suede is too heavy a fabric for the summer months, it is perhaps the only time of year you can venture out without risk of ruin by an errant shower.
When you need to look sharp at summer evening events suede ticks all the boxes: it’s tactile, textural and reassuringly expensive.
So you want a suede jacket? Well, now you must consider the myriad silhouettes you can choose from. From belted suede field jackets to suede bombers and Harringtons, you can find a plethora of options if you look hard enough.
Our personal favourite is the suede trucker for its ruggedly masculine cut, followed closely by the suede bomber which combines the sportiness of the military silhouette with the luxury of the leather fabric.
How to wear it
Think old-school film icons and you can’t go far wrong. James Dean, Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando all had a knack of making cropped jackets look so effortless with just a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.
With smarter suede jacket styles you can certainly swap out the denim for a pair of pleated cotton trousers, and bookend the look with some suede Chelsea boots.
The denim jacket, AKA the trucker, is an icon of Americana and a versatile blouson to have up your summer sleeve, given how easy it is to style with most types of looks.
Levi’s has the bragging rights with the trucker jacket (which gets its name from the term Japanese buyers used for it and not, incidentally, truckers), with the 507 ‘Type II’ still the benchmark for denim jackets. That said, plenty of brands have had success with putting a more tailored spin on it, but the original rugged style is hard to beat.
Most labels stick to the classic denim jacket silhouettes pioneered by the early Levi’s designs so there’s not a huge amount of design diversity. Instead, the difference is in the wash and colour of the denim. Acid wash, stone wash, raw, black, blue, cream, paint-splattered or logo-fied, the choice is completely personal.
How to wear it
Regardless of the colour or wash of the cotton, denim jackets are best styled in a laid-back way, with a tee, hoodie or crew neck sweater. The addition of shorts and high-tops will offer a cool sports luxe aesthetic, or you can swap them out for smarter tapered trousers and boots.
Double denim, that once maligned pairing, is perfectly acceptable provided you wear discernibly different types of denim on both halves.