Staple #13: The Navy Jacket
Up until this point the Staples series has been about the pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe. While today’s post is a continuation of that, the navy jacket should be a staple in another sense as well.
This is arguably the most versatile piece of clothing a man can own and it should be a staple in the sense that you should wear it so often it starts to feel like a second skin. It should be as comfortable if you wear it to a football game as if you wear it to a business meeting. I wear mine between four and five days a week. It can dress up a casual look without looking stuffy and still be worn out to lunch with clients without looking casual.
The level of formality for a navy jacket is determined by a few key things. Like a suit coat, the lapel shape is one of them. For your do-everything jacket you’ll want to get the regular notch lapels. They still look good with a tie but won’t look out of place over a T-shirt.
Another thing to look at is how the pockets are sewn on. My jacket has patch pockets. Basically, rather than being internal pockets that are integrated with the body of the suit, they are “patched” on. This is taken from old sport coats and was originally only appropriate in country jackets. While that level of concern is irrelevant to all but a few sticklers, a patch pocket still looks more casual than a traditional one. Thankfully though, the abandonment of those rules also means you can get away with wearing patch pockets in all but the most formal of settings.
You want this thing tailored to fit you just right. If you follow the lines on the picture above you’ll see that I’ve had it brought in on the sides so when it’s buttoned, it gives me more of a V shape. It shouldn’t hang straight or look boxy. You’ll also probably want the sleeves narrowed down as well. Most jackets have sleeves that are too big and billowy and bringing them in really cleans up your overall look.
Avoid major shoulder pads. Natural shoulders are best but a small pad is still good. It shouldn’t look like a suit coat.
Material is another crucial aspect. My jacket is 100% cotton. It looks more casual and also means I can throw it in the washer instead of having it dry cleaned. I don’t exaggerate when I say you can wear the hell out of the right jacket.
On top of wearing it like a suit coat when you’re dressing up, it’s the perfect thing for business casual. A lot of men work in a polo-and-khakis environment and want to know how they can dress better without being inappropriately overdressed. For most, showing up in a suit is going too far, but throwing on a jacket over what they normally wear dresses them up while keeping them casual.
A lot of men are also wondering how to dress better when they’re going out at night. Sometimes the venue you’re in is not suit appropriate and every other Bro there has on his boot-jeans and baggy button-up shirt that’s untucked. By wearing a tailored jacket you will look more put together, more masculine, and more successful than 90% of the other men there. It cuts down on the competition.
Last but not least is to get comfortable wearing it in casual situations. Throw on a T-shirt or Henley and roll up the sleeves past your elbow. This works if you’re at the dog park, at a buddies house watching the game, or doing day-Game pickups downtown. The more comfortable you get wearing it casually, the more comfortable it will feel all the time and the better you’ll look in it.
If I have a man tell me he can only afford one thing to dress better this is what I tell him to buy. It is appropriate more often than not. If you tailor it right you can cover up how poorly all your other shirts fit by throwing it on. It will offer contrast with light shirts if you have a stark complexion and help mute tones with dark shirts if you’re tone is softer.