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Reader E has a timely question: Which are the best lightweight jackets that look professional (other than a trench coat)? What’s best to layer on top of blazers, sweaters, and more as the weather turns colder (finally!)? We haven’t talked about lightweight jackets in a thousand years, so let’s discuss!
Do you have any suggestions for lightweight jackets that look professional? My office is casual/business casual (lots of people dress casually but I try to step it up a notch). I have a quilted jacket from J.Crew and a lightweight trench, but I’d love to find something shorter than a trench that isn’t a blazer. Something I could put over my outfit for chilly mornings. I know the military jacket style is in, but that’s too casual and trendy for my style. Any help is appreciated!
Great question, E! I’m assuming by “military jacket” you mean the very popular olive anorak style like this or this, which can definitely be a bit casual if your style is more conservative. I love fall weather and coats, so I rounded up a few general options.
Reader E already has one, but I will note that I think every woman should have a lightweight trench in her closet — it’s a classic piece, and many of the styles are sold with removable liners and hoods so you can adjust them as needed for the weather — and when we’ve talked in the past about what jackets to wear with skirts and dresses, a longer trench is usually what’s in my mind. (I’m a fan of the mid-thigh-length ones, but they also certainly make calf-length ones, if you prefer a longer, more dramatic look.)
I’d add that a nice big scarf is a great option to add on top of these, both as an additional, removable layer of warmth and possibly protection for your hair from wind/rain. Personally, I’m a fan of bigger wraps like the office pashminas we rounded up in our post on why to keep a wrap at the office — but that’s me!
The Sweater Blazer
A sweater blazer can feel more comfortable than a blazer because you’ve got greater ease of movement, but it can be warm and stylish like a blazer.
Sweater Jackets for Plus Sizes
The Feminine Jacket
Fall Blazers That Can Double As Outerwear
You say you don’t want a blazer, so this may be too close for your liking — but there are a lot of fun, sophisticated jackets that are a bit more buttoned up than a blazer (so, warmer) and on the shorter side. A lot of these may come in textured, sturdy fabrics like tweed, corduroy, and velvet.
Another option: festive blazers in velvet, at least for fall jackets…
Hunting for festive blazers for 2023? Stay tuned for a bigger roundup, but on the affordable side we like J.Crew Factory and Loft — and this Eliza J one is almost always in stock. On the more expensive side, check Reiss, Paige, and L’Agence.
Spring Blazers That Can Double As Outerwear
April 2023 Update: These are some of our latest favorite white blazers...
Linen and Other Lightweight Blazers
Hunting for lightweight blazers in linen and other fabrics? As of 2023, J.Crew’s Parke blazer is available in linen, as is this super affordable Quince blazer. Along related lines (all machine washable!), check out Uniqlo’s Airsense jacket (lightweight and stretchy), Madewell’s Drapeweave line (lightweight and drapey) and Brooks Brothers’ Soft Icons line (lightweight and drapey).
A Cashmere Ruana, Stole, or Wrap
I’ve sung the praises of the Brooks Brothers ruana in the past and finally picked up one for myself during one of their spring/summer sales. This reversible animal print/gray one, in fact — it’s still available and currently marked to $209 down from $698. When I first got it I was a bit bummed that it was more like a poncho than I thought it would be, with more of a definite “collar” and shape to it than my other nice big wraps. (And I’ll admit, I was so undecided, if the return window hadn’t passed without my noticing, I might have sent it back.)
But now that is fall, I’m surprised how often I reach for it. It’s warm, it’s crazy soft but sturdy, it goes on top of blazers as well as simple long-sleeved t-shirts.
Ultimately I’m very happy with the purchase and know I’ll have it for years to come.
Cons: no pockets. Pros: It hangs nicely on a hanger just like a coat would. Brooks Brothers has a ton right now, some as low as $136, some as high as $3,998. (I can’t speak to the quality but it looks like Uniqlo also has some similar stoles for $20ish.)
A few other wraps we love…
The Long Cardigan
Mine is from Halogen from several years ago, and they keep coming out in new colors, and fabric weights (a linen blend for summer, wool & cashmere for fall), and they’re highly rated. If you’re younger/trendier you may get away with a slouchier “grandpa” cardigan type of look (affordable, splurgey); if you’re more conservative/older you may want to upgrade to one from Eileen Fisher or Lafayette 148 New York. I think they look good with ankle pants, flared pants, dresses, skirts, jeans… Pictured.
Readers, what do you think are the best women’s lightweight jackets for the office for fall and spring? Do you have a favorite trenchcoat, sweater blazer, or other lightweight jacket that looks professional?
Social media picture via Stencil.