The Spring Jacket Primer

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As much as I love to layer up and bust out all sorts of woolen goods during the cold months, light cottons and linens for spring and summer are unbeatable in their own way, too. It's a breath of fresh air to finally wear something light after months of being weighed down by heavy fabrics, and when else is a man to get away with wearing a light pink shirt, blue cotton pants, yellow socks, and spectator shoes? Spring is a time for sartorial rebirth, to throw off the chains of winter and experience the world anew. To really pull together the ensemble I mentioned above, you need a staple wardrobe piece that every man should own: a cotton sport jacket. Just like a wool navy blazer is a man's go-to jacket when it's cold, the cotton sport jacket is its springtime equivalent. My favorite is the classic “khaki” color, but these can be found in navy blue, light grey, white, and most other staple colors. You can throw it on with some matching pants to make a great warm weather suit or toss it on with a pair of jeans to smarten up your casual look, making it one of the most versatile pieces of your spring wardrobe. Heed the following guidelines to get the most out of your investment:

  • As with all things sartorial, fit is king. A cotton sport jacket should fit just as any other sport or suit jacket would, and this means showing roughly 1/4” of shirt cuff and roughly 1/2” of shirt collar with the jacket on. It should be neither tight nor loose around the body, and the shoulders should sync up with your own nicely.
  • If you prefer to dress down instead of up, consider selecting a jacket with patch pockets instead of the usual lower flap pockets and breast welt pocket, which is the standard for most jackets. Patch pockets are a style which has the two lower pockets and breast pocket “patched” to the outside of the jacket, creating a much sportier look. Cotton khaki jackets offer a great opportunity to explore this avenue of casual style and have some laid-back fun.
  • Don't forget about seersucker. I don't recommend it as a go-to jacket because it's more memorable than regular cotton and therefore a bit less versatile, but don't forget about it. Make it a second or third choice for the warm weather.
  • It sounds obvious, but cotton jackets function as fantastic layering pieces. As the months progress the temperature will soar to the point where you will absolutely NOT want to wear a jacket, but once you get inside, the air conditioning will be blasting and you'll be cutting glass in your button-down. Having a lightweight cotton jacket on hand is a smart way to regulate your temperature while looking, well, smart.
  • To make the outfit even more casual, try a shirt with a button-down collar. These are less formal than a regular dress shirt with collar stays and look particularly good with a casual cotton jacket.
  • In keeping with the theme of lightness and springtime casualness, ditch the silk tie for a cotton or linen option. You'll look dressy, but the cotton-on-cotton look will lend congruity to your outfit.
  • Cotton or linen tie=cotton or linen pocket square. Period.

Follow these rules and you'll be looking fresh to death in no time, sipping G&T's at an outdoor bar. If you decide to go with seersucker, though, make it a mint julep. Nice.