There’s almost no better feeling than finally swapping out your summer wares for chunky fall sweaters, thick cardigans, and leather boots — until you realize the window in which you can wear all the fall jackets you stocked up on is probably less than two weeks long. Even though there are only a few fall days every season that are truly fall days — temps in the low 60s, a light breeze, the sun breaking through the clouds — that doesn’t mean you need to pack away your blazers, denim jackets, and leather toppers in exchange for your puffer coat at the first signs of winter. Instead, you just have to find the best lightweight fall jackets for layering.
And no, we're not talking about puffer shells or fleece inserts. Instead, a good layering jacket is two things: both a solid piece that can stand alone, as well as something that can comfortable layer on top or below another jacket of similar weight. Most tailored blazers fit into this category, and if you’ve ever seen a Jenna Lyons-era J.Crew catalog with a denim jacket layered underneath a trench coat (which was probably also layered underneath a scarf) then you already know the deal.
Still, there are a few things you should look for when finding the ideal layering jacket: Most oversized pieces — like a trench coat, per se — best serve as the outer layer. Look for things like wide arm holes, which can allow for a sweater and a jacket underneath without bunching. Usually, that’s the reason some outfits look bulky: If you feel like the Michelin man the moment you layer up, take a look at where the arms meet the body: If there’s pulling or bunching throughout the body of either piece, it’s not the right match. Additionally, a boxy shape helps give ample room for layering underneath; materials like vinyl and PVC are also a smart choice for a top layer, as their structured silhouette allows for ample material underneath. And on cooler days, you can
For the bottom layer, look for pieces that are a little more streamlined: Simple design accents like darting on the back or chest are great, and cropped silhouettes in slinkier fabrics like polyester, faux-leather, or silk are optimal for tucking under something a little heftier. Ideally, your inner layer is more lightweight, but there’s something to be said about, say, a corduroy jacket atop a checked wool blazer.
Now, not only can you get an extra bit of wear out of your lighter pieces, but jacket layering gives your an extra few weeks until you absolutely have to take your winter coats out of storage. And when it finally is time to break out the heavy-duty coats, you can do the same with those, cutting your cost-per-wear for each item down with every use. Think: a menswear-inspired overcoat layered atop a plaid blazer, or a denim jacket underneath a teddy-bear coat.
Ahead, ten jackets that were practically made for layering this fall.