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The Perfect Fall Jacket for Any Occasion

From weddings to tailgating, here’s how to stay warm

Trucker jacket, quilted jacket, sports coat, varsity jacket
The Arrow

Autumn is the season of jackets. Although you probably already have a few in your closet, it may be time for an upgrade.

Choosing a fall jacket isn’t as high stakes as choosing a car or urologist, but it’s still important to ask the right questions. It’s not just about what looks good and makes you feel attractive. It’s not about brands or costs or fashion trends. What matters the most is, where exactly do you plan on wearing this jacket?

Here’s your no-nonsense guide to finding a jacket appropriate for any social situation.

Cool evening stroll

If you’re looking forward to the satisfying crunch of stepping on leaves while the sun goes down, your best bet is a lightweight quilted jacket, according to Liz Wendler, style coach at Liz Wendler Styling.

“This type of jacket offers insulation without being too heavy or bulky,” she says. “It’s versatile and can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.”

You can wear it on top of a “sweater, a long-sleeve shirt or even a simple T-shirt, depending on the temperature,” adds Wendler. “Combine it with dark jeans or chinos, and leather or suede boots.”

Tailgate party

At the break of dawn on game day at the stadium, you’ll want something tough and rugged that’s also warm, comfy and stylish. Try a varsity jacket to tick all the boxes and relive your glory days.

Varsity jackets are “the perfect blend of sporty and casual,” says stylist Kim Appelt. “And they’re easy to move in.”

Appelt suggests a jacket made from lightweight nylon or polyester, which are two of the most common types of water-resistant fabrics. And because they’re made from petroleum, they’re hydrophobic — meaning they only retain 0.4% of moisture and keep you dry when you sweat.

You could also opt for a classically styled varsity jacket made from wool, which has some of the same benefits as nylon and polyester, thanks to its ability to absorb 30 percent of its weight in moisture while emitting heat and wicking away sweat from your skin.

Casual family gathering

“For a family gathering, you can’t go wrong with a wool sport coat,” says Reginald Ferguson, owner and founder of New York Fashion Geek.

Ferguson advises choosing a Super 120s fabric, which refers to the fineness of the strands of material. The scale goes from 80, which is the coarsest, to 260, which is super fine (the smaller the number, the heavier the fabric). While the higher-numbered wools tend to cost more, they don’t offer much beyond bragging rights.

He also suggests knowing what styles, colors and patterns will flatter your body type. “Big guys have to be cautious about wearing big, bold patterns,” he says. And if you’re on the heavier side, you’ll want a single-breasted jacket — one with a row of one to three buttons right in the center — because the construction has a leveling effect on the body’s width.

Night out with the guys

Whether you’re going ax throwing, barhopping or whiskey tasting, one thing you don’t want to do for a night out with the guys is overdress. Try a canvas trucker jacket, says Wendler. “While this jacket is not the most obvious choice, the canvas trucker jacket is a cool vibe for a casual guys’ night out without being too overdressed. It’s perfect for layering and provides an edgier and effortless aesthetic.”

Because it’s a type of cotton, canvas will drape nicely over any body type and is a very durable option for a night on the town. Speaking of layering, Wendler specifically recommends an olive green jacket paired with a well-fitted black Henley, dark jeans, and a pair of white or black leather sneakers to create a stylish, edgy outfit.

Fall formal event

October is the most popular month for getting married, and 43 percent of weddings take place between September and November. So there’s a decent chance you’re going to need a formal jacket with matching pants.

Earthy colors like browns, greens and blues “can be paired with a variety of shirt and tie colors and make you feel elevated,” says Wendler.

While single-breasted jackets are the standard, Wendler says double-breasted styles (with two vertical rows of buttons) can flatter a variety of body types. A double-vent jacket, which has a slit on each side to allow for easier movement, is the way to go, she says. “It’s a classic, timeless style and looks great on any rear.”

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy Banana Republic, Courtesy Bonobos, Courtesy Nordstrom (2)
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