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Jackets protect you from the elements in a very literal way, but the best jackets for men are also kind of like armor for your fashion sense. The right jacket protects even the most basic fit from blandness. For example, when you think of famous images of stars like James Dean or Marlon Brando, in many cases, they’re wearing plain white tees and blue jeans. But it’s Dean’s red Harrington jacket and Brando’s black leather moto jacket that pushed them into style icon territory.
While there’s nothing wrong with having a single jacket you reach for most days, having a few core pieces of outerwear will keep you from looking like a cartoon character; wearing the same red jacket all the time is less James Dean and more Philip J. Fry.
How to Shop for Men’s Jackets
On a practical level, it’s a good idea to have a collection of different jackets to satisfy different dress codes and weather conditions. But narrowing down the vast world of outerwear to just a handful of essentials is a nearly Sisyphean task. That’s why we asked Parker York Smith, a lifestyle content creator who dispenses practical style tips to his nearly 2 million Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube followers, for his advice on picking the best jackets for men.
Smith noted, “I prefer a range of jackets… some work well all year, others are great for layering, some are fun statement pieces, and others are a bit heavier that I’ll save till it gets colder.” We gave Smith the (frankly, unfair) task of narrowing an essential men’s jacket wardrobe to just five pieces, and he suggested a denim jacket, bomber, wool blazer, Harrington, and leather jacket.
It’s hard to argue with those picks; they’re great pieces because they can be worn in different seasons and styled in versatile ways. However, beyond those essentials, it’s worth investing in season-specific outerwear like rain jackets and heavier winter coats.
Related: The Best Men’s Boots to Wear This Season
How Much Does a Good Jacket Cost?
Jackets not only enhance one’s style, but they do most of an outfit’s heavy lifting during colder months. Prices vary greatly depending on the brand, materials used, and where the jacket was manufactured.
For example, a lightweight denim jacket from a mass-market brand like Levi’s will run about $75, while a made-in-America leather jacket from a boutique brand like Schott might set you back close to a grand. Unsurprisingly, heavier jackets, which average in the $300 to $500 range, are often more expensive than lightweight ones, which typically cost less than $200.
Outdoor brands often make affordable jackets. Patagonia’s $179 Torrentshell jacket is a lightweight jacket that features a PFA-free DWR coating and plenty of pockets to keep you dry and comfortable in wet weather. L.L. Bean’s peacoat is a modest $300 for a legitimately insulated, warm top layer, while outdoor outfitter Eddie Bauer makes a puffer in the $100 range.
Jackets made from leather or suede are often the most expensive, but they age beautifully, as is the case with our picks from Schott, Todd Snyder, and Buck Mason, which run in the $500 to $1,000 range.
With these considerations in mind, the following are this year’s best jackets for men. This list isn’t the be-all and end-all, of course; you might not need every option on this list, but each will improve your wardrobe in its own way.
Related: The Best Jeans for Men Aren’t Just a Pair of Pants, They’re an Identity
The Best Men’s Jackets of 2023
The denim trucker was Smith’s pick for the best men’s jacket because it’s a “timeless piece that works really well casually or slightly more dressed up.” Not only did Levi’s invent the denim trucker jacket, but the brand still makes one of the best options in terms of value and style. There are a lot of colors to choose from, and Levi’s offers styles with and without stretch. An all-cotton version will be less comfortable during the first wear, but it’ll break in better over the long term.
Plenty of brands riff on military style, but Alpha Industries has a long history of producing outerwear for the US military. The brand’s bomber jacket features traditional details like a zippered arm pocket and an insulated flap behind the zipper to keep the cold out. This jacket is also reversible, meaning you get two jackets in one. As Smith puts it, a bomber is “the perfect piece for more casual outfits when the temperatures start to drop.”
It’s undoubtedly expensive, but Baracuta’s G9 jacket is a time-tested icon and the jacket with the best claim to being the original Harrington. The G9 is the perfect fall jacket — lightweight but insulated to protect against the elements thanks to the water-resistant cotton-polyester fabric and comfortable tartan lining. Best of all, it comes in a wide range of colors. Go with navy for optimal versatility or red for the full Rebel Without A Cause look. Smith recommends reaching for a Harrington when you want something a “bit more dressy than the denim jacket.”
Waxed canvas was originally used for a boat’s sails to catch the wind more efficiently, but was later adapted into outerwear for its water-resistant properties. Today, synthetic DWR coatings are the standard. But those who prefer a classic, rugged look might prefer a waxed canvas jacket, like this trucker from Flint and Tinder. It’s made in the US from Martexin sailcloth and blanket-lined for comfort and warmth. If this jacket looks familiar, that’s because it’s the same jacket donned by Pedro Pascal’s character in The Last of Us.
Chore coats have become more popular in recent years, but the style has been around for a long time. The chore coat dates to 19th century France, when workers utilized the jacket’s oversized patch pockets to store tools. Alex Mill’s take on the men’s chore coat nods to this classic workwear jacket with its iconic pockets but adds a modernized fit that’s easier to style. There are seven colors to choose from, though size availability varies by color.
Not every winter jacket needs to be expensive. Take it from Eddie Bauer, inventor of the down jacket, whose namesake brand makes some of the best affordable outdoor gear. The CirrusLite down jacket features a padded hood, zippered pockets, and a 650-fill down insulation for warmth in cold climates. The outer is made from recycled materials, while the down meets the Responsible Down Standard, meaning the feathers don’t come from live-plucked or force-fed birds.
Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L jacket certainly puts function over form, but when it’s raining cats and dogs, function is exactly what’s called for. The jacket features a three-layer membrane that’s both waterproof and breathable. It may seem counterintuitive, but breathability is a key factor when choosing a waterproof jacket. The last thing you want is a jacket that traps sweat and moisture, leaving you wetter than if you had no jacket. Patagonia’s Torrentshell jacket is available in a wide range of colors and in sizes from XS up to XXXL.
The North Face dug into the archives to reissue the Nuptse jacket based on a design from 1996. This down jacket has a stylish, color-blocked design and it comes in a range of colors. The 700-fill power goose down will keep you warm when the weather sours while the DWR coating helps keep you dry. And when a gloomy day suddenly turns sunny, the Nuptse can be packed into its own pocket for convenient storage. Though sizable, it remains lightweight and is a great jacket for backpacking, air travel, commuting, and more.
A varsity jacket is a stylish, preppy, and classic, but sometimes you don’t want to represent a particular team or college. Todd Snyder’s version of this sportswear staple was made in collaboration with Champion and streamlines the varsity jacket to just its essential components. The ribbed collar and hem feature a striped pattern, and the jacket is made from a cotton-nylon blend. The jacket is available in white with a blue trim or blue with a white trim. With a nice varsity jacket like this one, shoes matter. Lean into the Ivy look with a simple white sneaker or a pair of penny loafers.
Leather jackets and bomber jackets are two essential styles, but they’re even better when combined into one. Buck Mason’s Bruiser Leather Bomber jacket features traditional bomber jacket details like ribbing on the collar and cuffs and a cropped blouson fit. Nylon is swapped for luxe lambskin leather that’s hand-burnished for a perfectly worn-in look. The quilted lining makes it a great option in colder weather, too. Lean into the rugged look with a pair of well-loved jeans and a slub t-shirt.
It can be hard to pull off a trench coat without looking like a 1940s private eye. Percival’s take on the style is single-breasted and shorter than a traditional trench, making it streamlined, modern, and remarkably easy to pull off. The jacket is water and windproof, but still breathable and lightweight enough to keep you comfortable. The oversized inner pocket is ideal for carrying an umbrella, but you could just as easily leave home without one. The Sherlock trench coat is available in a handful of solid colors but the brown check is undeniably cool.
Like many of the best men’s jackets, the peacoat’s origin is the military. While the bomber is associated with the skies, the peacoat’s history is naval. The double-breasted design traditionally featured a collar that could be buttoned all the way up to the neck, helping to keep out the harsh ocean winds. LL Bean’s affordable take is made from a 100% wool outer with a polyester liner. It’s available in black or dark navy. The slightly fitted silhouette locks in warmth, while allowing room to layer a sweater.
Schott invented the moto jacket for Harley Davidson. While bikers are no longer the average Schott customer, the New York-based brand continues to make its jackets tough enough for the road. This jacket has a cotton plaid flannel lining, making it a lighter-weight alternative to Schott’s quilt-lined Perfecto jacket. It’s undoubtedly pricey, there aren’t many products that are manufactured the same way they were a century ago.
Some special occasions call for dressing up, but a suit isn’t always necessary. A simple wool blazer in navy or gray is a great option and can be paired with jeans or classic chinos. The patch pockets and partial lining keep this blazer more casual than a suit jacket, but the wool fabric is dressier than a cotton or linen blazer. It’s the ideal jacket for meeting the parents or just outdressing everyone else at the office.
Despite its association with the ‘80s and ‘90s, a windbreaker is just as versatile in 2023. Well suited to three-season wear, the right windbreaker helps keep you dry during light spring showers and warm on mild summer evenings or fall days. Columbia’s take features color-blocked styles that nod to vintage windbreaker styles as well as easy-to-wear solid colors.