When it comes to seasonally-appropriate dressing, the tricky transitional period between the searing heat of summer and the icy winds of winter can be a right royal pain in the crease to navigate. Stride confidently out of the front door wrapped up in your parka and you can guarantee it’ll be 18°C and sunny by the time you reach the office; opt for a simple shirt and jeans and you can bet you’ll be caught in a torrential downpour. It’s a problem that crops up year after year, so surely there must be a solution by now?
Well, yes. Enter, the overshirt.
Now also known as a ‘shacket’, thanks to those oh-so-creative marketers, the overshirt is an often-overlooked staple item that melds the design aesthetic of a shirt with the warmth and comfort of a light spring jacket. It is quite possibly the answer to all your springtime and autumnal wardrobe woes in one garment.
“The great thing about an overshirt is that it bridges the gap between summer and winter,” explains Kasia Katner, a stylist at men’s personal shopping site Thread. “When it’s warm out, it’s basically a jacket; once it gets cold, it’s light enough to fit under a coat.”
Similar in appearance to a coach jacket, the overshirt differs in that it is typically constructed from soft, natural materials and usually features chest pockets as opposed to handwarmer pockets. Both zip-through and button iterations exist, while heavier fabric, a roomier cut and sometimes a lining set it apart from its cousin, the casual shirt.
What To Look For In An Overshirt
“The best versions are cut in fabric that’s heavier – and warmer – than a shirt,” Kasia continues. “Flannel is particularly good as the brushed nap traps heat and it also offers a nice depth to outfits.”
Twill, brushed cotton, moleskin and denim are also commonly used to create these two-in-one utility players, but down-filled padded versions and man-made materials are becoming increasingly common – presenting a handy option if you need something to carry you further into the winter months. That’s not to say that you can’t continue to wear a cotton version as the days become colder; the overshirt’s versatility means it can be effectively styled over a crew neck or layered under an overcoat. Which means excellent cost-per-wear potential.
As if that isn’t reason enough to run out and buy one, an overshirt also presents an opportunity to introduce some colour to your look when the clouds start getting grey. “If everything in your winter wardrobe is grey, black and navy, then an overshirt is the perfect way to experiment with colour,” says Kasia. “Something like a forest green or rust orange pairs beautifully with neutrals but is still easy to wear.
“Most importantly, just make sure you nail the fit – snug enough to slot under a coat, but loose enough to layer on top of a hoodie or sweatshirt.”
Got all that? Good, then take a look at our pick of the best overshirts available to buy right now.
A Day’s March
For A Day’s March, the overshirt is such a big deal it based its brand around it. The Swedish label, only founded in 2014, makes a killer overshirt in a range of fabrics from soft-to-touch herringbone cotton through to chunky corduroy.
You’ll find shirts in the classic CPO style replete with two button flap chest pockets, or in the form of a chore jacket, which is slightly longer and with three large patch pockets on the front. Either way you can’t go wrong.
Founded in 2006, London-based Albam prides itself on a fuss-free approach to style, timeless utilitarian design ethos and high-quality construction.
Working with some of the finest craftsmen in the UK and Europe, Albam produces its understated seasonal collections using premium materials, resulting is some of the best wardrobe essentials money can buy.
For high-street convenience with a high-end feel, COS is hard to beat and, although it’s only been in the game since 2007, it’s already established itself as a firm favourite among style-savvy shoppers.
The Swedish label uses premium materials to create typically Scandinavian garments that just ooze with that clean, minimalist cool. Expect overshirts with block staple colours and few extraneous detailing – perfect for autumn layering.
David Keyte spent ten years at Paul Smith and a further five at Maharishi before making the decision to start his own clothing line. Inspired by the idea of creating well-made, easy-to-wear clothes for men and eschewing fads in favour of timeless style, Keyte set up Universal Works.
For workwear-inspired designs, block colours and pockets – lots and lots of pockets – you need look no further. Good, honest overshirts from a good, honest brand.
Unrivalled in terms of affordability, variety and style, Topman is a great place to start your search for this transitional wardrobe staple. The high-street giant’s sprawling selection is what sets it apart from its competitors. With a range of plain and printed styles in a number of cuts and colours, there’s something here for every palette and palate.
When you think of Swedish outdoors label Fjällräven, chances are the first thing that springs to mind is the iconic – and arguably slightly played out – Kanken backpack. However, this Scandinavian staple brand has so much more to offer than brightly-coloured rucksacks.
Overshirts are one of the many things Fjällräven does wonderfully and given the brand’s longstanding reputation for ruggedness combined with style appeal, you can’t go far wrong picking one out. Choose a Fjällräven overshirt and you’re buying into a focus on durability, subtle leather patch branding and classic outdoors styling.
Streetwear and high-fashion have been having a steamy love affair for a number of years now, but would streetwear even exist if it wasn’t for Shawn Stussy and his eponymous California-based surf brand?
Stüssy is the undisputed king of streetwear, so if you want to inject a touch of urban cool into your transitional wardrobe, pick up an overshirt from the label that invented it. Expect loose cuts, contemporary styling and plenty of street cred.
It may have started life as a single womenswear store in Västerås, Sweden, in 1947, but in the decades that followed H&M matured into one of the biggest names on the high street.
The Scandinavian retailer has been churning out top notch overshirts for years and, as per usual, you can expect great quality and manageable prices in equal measures – not to be sniffed at when the economic climate is as turbulent as autumn itself. If you’re looking for a garment with minimal branding, classic Scandi styling and contemporary twists aplenty, this is the place to go.
‘Heritage’ is a big buzzword in menswear, with countless fledgling brands creating farfetched backstories in an attempt to appeal to history-hungry consumers. However, one brand that needs to make no bogus claims is historic workwear stalwart, Carhartt.
Overshirts have been a key part of the American label’s output for decades, so when you pick one up from these guys you know you’re getting something that’s genuinely built to last. Classic American workwear touches, such as thick fabrics and patch pockets, come as standard, mixed with a healthy dose of streetwear styling.
Founded in Tokyo in 1999, as part of the sprawling Beams franchise, men’s line Beams Plus perfectly encapsulates Japan’s seemingly endless fixation with workwear, utilitarian style and all things vintage Americana.
For a versatile overshirt constructed from premium fabric, that you can rely on being as durable as it is good-looking, Beams Plus is a one-stop-shop. Number one for workwear-inspired pieces with subtle detailing and a timeless design aesthetic.
Italian luxury sportswear label Stone Island is always one step ahead of the competition when it comes to experimenting with cutting edge fabrics and dyeing processes. The result is some of the most forward-thinking outerwear money can buy.
The overshirt is one of the label’s key pieces and never fails to appear in collections season after season, reimagined in various cuts, colours and materials to stunning effect. Buy Stone Island and you’ll be met by experimental designs with a military/workwear-inspired feel, and of course that iconic compass badge branding.
Thought looking good and saving the planet at the same time was just for James Bond? Think again. Pick up an overshirt from Californian outdoors brand Patagonia and you can do it too – albeit in a slightly less glamorous fashion.
The environmentally-minded label uses recycled polyester in many of is clothes and only works with organic cotton. On top of that, at least 1% of sales goes toward funding environmental groups. Guilt-free consumerism at last! Plus outdoorsy styling, with roomy cuts that manage to steer just clear of Ray Mears territory.
Since 1975, Massachusetts-based label Penfield has been producing superior-quality outdoor apparel with a stylish approach to functionality.
After making its name crafting down products, the label graduated to everything from high-performance mountaineering jackets, to exclusive brand collabs and its overshirts are some of the best all-rounders to be found. For streetwear-meets-the great-outdoors styling, vibrant colours and contemporary cuts, Penfield is your best bet.
With on-trend designs and affordability at the fore, high-street mainstay New Look should definitely be on your list when it comes to sourcing the perfect overshirt.
The company recently began to expand its menswear range, opening dedicated branches that stock a wider range, so you’re more likely to find a style that suits you. Expect trend-led designs with minimal branding and a focus on value for money.
YMC, or You Must Create, was founded in 1995 by Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins and has since become synonymous with clean, contemporary designs and the sort effortlessly cool minimalist aesthetic that is de rigeur for fashion-conscious men.
The overshirt’s fuss-free, understated design is well in line with YMC’s approach to style and as such, various incarnations often feature in the label’s seasonal collections. Pick yours from here and you’ll find classic designs in earthy and neutral tones, that manage to be both creative and timeless all at once.