Shirt-Jacket Season Is Almost Upon Us Once Again — If It Ever Even Left
Shackets, CPOs, Jac-shirts ... by any name, they are the best
Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits.
We are firmly of the opinion that the shirt-jacket is among the most useful garments a man can have in his closet. Sure, they’re most associated with fall, but they work great as a middle layer on particularly cold winter days, too. And, hell, having spent so much of this particular winter at home thanks to the pandemic, we’ve been wearing one around the house pretty much constantly, as a comfortable, warming layer over a long-sleeve T-shirt.
But as we inch ever so slowly toward another shoulder season in spring, the shirt-jacket will once again become even more prominent — for a quick trip to the coffee shop or a stroll around the neighborhood, it’ll serve as a perfect option for those days when the temperature climbs into the 50s and 60s and you can forego your heavier winter coats.
We recently tested out a ton of shirt-jackets from a range of brands: everyone from Everlane to Smartwool’s got a version. They’re all different enough that it doesn’t feel right to compare them against each other, but we were able to assign a superlative for each of our favorites. One’s easy on the environment, another wins on the coziness front, etc. Peruse and take your pick.
The Softest: Faherty Brand Legend Sweater Shirt
We’re not entirely sure how the softest shirt jacket we tested isn’t 100% cotton. Faherty, one of the best men’s brands in the game right now, actually employed a polyester-viscose-spandex blend that has four-way stretch (a method favored by most activewear brands these days). That means this shirt has a bit more backbone, won’t shrink, and allows for a heightened range of motion than you’d normally find in a flannel button-down. But somehow, this is also just an unconscionably soft shirt. You could wear it over an undershirt, but it feels like a blanket against bare skin. Pick it up in Steelhead Grey (pictured above).
Easiest on Mother Earth: Wellen Stretch Chore Coat
Huckberry launched Wellen earlier this year, and we’ve written at length about the brand’s surf-inspired duds: hemp tees, boardshorts, and beach crewnecks. It would appear the brand’s got a great read on workwear too, and can make some of the style’s most iconic pieces, without sacrificing it’s environmentally-conscious ethos. Their Stretch Chore Coat is 66% organic cotton and 32% hemp. That means that no pesticides and a whole lot less water were used to construct the coat. We wore this coat last Friday for a full day and it handled every situation we threw at it: those front pockets can fit a full book, which we learned on an afternoon walk, and that canvas exterior doesn’t stain … which we learned after getting sprayed with beer at a raucous playoff baseball game.
The “Shirtiest”: Everlane Heavyweight Overshirt
Shirt jackets often invite debate over nomenclature. Is it too shirty to be called a jacket? Or vice versa? Everlane doesn’t really care. The SF-based masters of basics officially call this piece an “Overshirt,” but acknowledge it could function as an “over-jacket” or “over-sweater,” too. We enjoy wearing this shirt jacket with the buttons up, as it easily pulls off a more formal look, without sacrificing the comfort you’re accustomed to from the softer layering pieces in your closet. The material is an 8 oz. heavy cotton twill (which Everlane notes is twice as heavy as its Japanese Oxford cloth), and the two front pockets give it an extra dose of character. Thanks to Everlane’s accessible pricing, this is also one of the best deals you’ll find on this list.
Best for Layering: Flint and Tinder CPO Shirt Jacket
Crafted from Flint and Tinder’s bestselling stretch fabric, the brand’s CPO Shirt Jacket features a modern silhouette that leans slightly more shirt than jacket and thus lends it better to layering. The 2% spandex included in the fabric makes layering everything from a t-shirt to a button underneath a breeze, without leaving you feeling restricted or hindered in your movements. And, should you see fit, who’s to say you couldn’t layer it underneath a more heavy-duty piece of outerwear when the weather calls for it? The possibilities are endless.
Best Color: Wax London Whiting Shirt
While there’s no denying the benefits and styling capabilities of a simple shacket in a solid neutral, that isn’t to say you can’t introduce a little versatility to your collection. Wax London takes your favorite flannel and lends it a bit more heft thanks to the hardy French-made, recycled fabric it’s crafted from, making it ideal for those days when you want the look of a flannel but need something a bit more substantial. Plus, when the weather finally allows you to shed a few more layers, you’ll have the option of wearing it sans anything underneath.
For Entire Days Outside: Howler Brothers Snapshirt
Be they days in the woods, in the backyard, at a tailgate … you get it. Howler Brothers hails from Austin, and this quick-drying, snap-up plaid shirt is probably all you’d need when walking out of the house down there for the next several months. In colder areas, it’s a good base layer, and the polyester/rayon/spandex blend means it can handle chopping wood or throwing a football or whatever men like to do these days with a bit more flexibility than flannels from decades past. Our only points of concern are the size (it runs big in the arms) and the “BROS” decal on the left breast, which reads a bit silly.
Most Versatile: Wester Rise Airloft Shirt Jacket
The AirLoft Shirt Jacket has been around for a few years but it got a major update in December 2020. Compared to the previous version it feels a little more like a shirt than a jacket. Read: it’s lighter weight and has a slightly slimmer, more shirt-like fit. It still has a clean, stretchy outer shell and it’s stuffed with a thin layer of synthetic insulation. Essentially it’s everything we look for in a shirt jacket: It’s comfortable, not too bulky, and looks good with a wide range of outfits—essentially everything we look for in a shirt jacket.
The Coziest: Faherty Brand Blanket Lined CPO Jacket
Yep, Faherty won the “Softest” and “Coziest” titles. That this CPO Jacket can appear on the same list as the Legend Sweater Shirt is the ultimate testament to the dynamic shirt jacket. As for Faherty appearing twice … just go buy their whole damn fall catalog. This jacket is cotton all over, though the interior is brushed cotton meant to mimic your favorite living room blanket, and the exterior is textured dobby cotton with fisheye buttons. There are 85 days left in 2019. We expect to wear this thing for at least 60 of them.
The Most Weather-Resistant: Smartwool Smartloft 60 Shirt Jacket
You probably know Smartwool for its exemplary selection of socks suitable for all sorts of outdoor pursuits. Or maybe you know them for their remarkably odor-resistant merino wool baselayers. But you should also know that they make some damn fine outerwear as well, like this versatile, good-looking wool shirt jacket. It’s lined in merino, so it’s comfy as hell, but the exterior is made of DWR-coated (Durable Water Repellent) nylon that’ll keep you dry and safe from any potentially bone-chilling winds that may come your way. Lots of pockets and a lot of outdoorsy tech packed into a very casual silhouette.
Best For Lounging: Marine Layer Quilted Overshirt
If it were socially acceptable to swath ourselves in a comforter and wear it outside the confines of our house we would, but alas, society has not progressed to that point yet. Instead we’ll settle for the next best thing with Marine Layer’s Quilted Overshirt, made from two thick, soft pieces of fabric that’s then filled and quilted for both a plush appearance and feel.
Subscribe here for our daily deals and products newsletter, The Goods
Suggested for you