As summer subsides, it’s time to start thinking about the cooler weather of the coming months. We know it’s tempting to make a grab for your trusty old raincoat, but take a quick look at our guide to choosing an autumn jacket to make sure you don’t compromise on style, warmth or comfort.
What’s the best fabric for an autumn coat?
Autumn’s unpredictable weather means you need a fabric that’s light enough to prevent overheating, yet robust enough to keep you warm. Unless you’re going for a tweed jacket or long coat for your top layer, wool will be too toasty for this time of year. It’s better to choose cotton, cotton mixes and synthetics for the milder seasons. Make sure you choose a jacket with the right level of water resistance for your needs.
What’s the difference between showerproof and waterproof?
A showerproof garment has a tight weave and some kind of waterproof coating on either the inside or outside. It should be adequately weatherproof for your rain-spattered dash across the carpark, and will protect you while you fumble for your umbrella, but it won’t stand up to prolonged rain.
Full waterproofing usually involves a synthetic fabric that has been laminated or coated with waterproof material like rubber, PVC, PU or wax. Although practical, it’s tricky to find a smart waterproof coat, especially one that looks good when worn over a suit.
If you’re after a raincoat to wear with smart business attire, go for a longer streamlined style made from a tightly woven fabric like cotton. Think covert coats, trench coats and macs. These will protect you from brief showers – if you’re worried about the rain, buy yourself a decent gentleman’s umbrella.
Choose the right size
Autumn is all about layering, so factor this in when buying your new jacket. You can add two inches to your normal chest measurement depending on what you think you might wear under your jacket, and how roomy you like the fit to be.
Take the aforementioned tweed jacket. It makes a natty topcoat for early autumn, but on colder mornings you need to be able to fit a chunky sweater or a cosy gilet underneath without looking too bulky.
Remember too, that adding volume across your back beneath your jacket may make the cuffs ride up. To avoid this, choose a garment with sleeves a half inch longer than you normally take.
Find the right style
If it’s a work jacket you’re after, go with the sleek silhouette of a trench coat. You get shower proofing, plus the coat will cover your suit jacket. But if it’s a casual jacket you’re looking for, there are several smart choices available.
The bomber jacket is a classic coat of obvious military provenance. But while the original was a heavy duty sheepskin designed to prevent pilots freezing to death in their unheated cockpits, modern cotton or synthetic versions are perfect for autumn. They’re also ideal for gents who like their coat to add definition through the shoulders.
A similarly distinctive jacket, the Harrington, was a favourite with mods in the 60s, offering excellent ease of movement. It’s a much straighter cut than the bomber, making a Harrington jacket a better choice for gents who may feel they’re spherical enough already.
For a mid-length jacket that does smart and smart casual with equal aplomb, a car coat is a modern take on an old-time favourite. These were originally intended to keep the wind and rain out when driving vintage cars along winding roads. The modern incarnation is a flattering straight cut which features a storm flap to keep the wind out, and roomy sleeves for ease of movement.
Bridge the gap between autumn and winter
As autumn forges on into winter, it’s time to think about how to make that lightweight coat go a little further before you get the overcoat out. If you need an extra layer, a gilet adds less bulk than a heavy sweater.
Alternatively, if you’re a fan of crisp mornings but could do without the frostbite, opt for a warm but lightweight wax jacket.
And do remember that as the weather turns, it’s your head that bears the brunt of nature’s onslaught, especially for the follicly challenged among us. You won’t go wrong with a decent hat. A stylish trilby goes beautifully with your suit and trench coat, while a flat cap does everything else quite wonderfully.
What’s your favourite autumn jacket? We’d love to hear from you. Just drop us a line below or via our Facebook page.