What’s the first piece of clothing you notice on someone? Their shoes? Nah, too far down. Their shirt? Often not visible at first glance. The pants? Likely obscured by a piece of outerwear. No matter which way you spin it, your jacket is getting spotted first. The types of jackets for men span the seasons and are an essential building block for any cool-weather outfit. But which do you reach for, and when?
To demystify the many men’s jacket styles, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to outerwear. Whether you’re seeking a fancy fall coat or a warm winter wrap-up, this article will help you choose the best jacket and show you how to wear it, too.
Keep reading for unique history, style inspiration, and the complete round-up of the different types of jackets for men.
Different types of jackets for men suit different seasons. If you’re looking for a warm winter jacket, opt for a puffer or a parka. After something for more transitional wear? You can’t go wrong with denim, suede, or a duffle coat. For springtime or summer evenings, choose chore coats, shirt jackets, or an unlined trench to dress up any warm weather outfit.
Denim jackets date back to the 1880s when the infamous Levi Strauss created a prototype after his workwear pants took off ten years before (yes, I mean jeans). While they surged in popularity around the ‘60s, today, the denim jacket is an iconic symbol of American fashion and a closet staple for men around the world.
The best denim jackets are nothing if not versatile. Ideal for year-round fashion, wear denim jackets with anything from shorts and a polo to a hoodie and jeans. When the cold strikes, denim jackets are a fundamental layering piece, so throw on that flannel and a pair of Chelsea boots—the chilly weather awaits.
It’s hard to imagine, but early fighter planes had open cockpits, which made for a few frigid pilots in the early twentieth century. As a solution to the subarctic air temperatures, the US Army designed and distributed bomber jackets (better known as flight jackets back then) for World War I.
While originally made from leather and fur, these days, bomber jackets come in all sorts of materials. They often maintain the classic bomber silhouette, making them a prime pick for casual wear, but instead of fur, they utilize nylon, wool, and even quilted constructions. Bombers are a choice pick for laid-back occasions, making them a solid match for jeans, chinos, and your favorite pair of sneakers. To dress up a bomber, pair it with a polo or button-down shirt and a pair of leather shoes.
Sherpa is basically shearling on a budget, made from acrylic materials to create a soft and affordable fleecy fabric. It gets its name from Tibetan people who live high in the Nepalese mountains, dressed in fuzzy fabrics to keep warm under the shade of the world’s highest peaks.
Whether you opt for a full sherpa jacket or a coat lined with sherpa, you’ll be one of the coziest fellas around. While on top, you may resemble a wooly teddy bear, sherpa looks great with neutral-colored fabrics like khaki, chino, or corduroy. Lean into the fuzziness and pair your sherpa jacket with Uggs, or give it some edge with a pair of fleece lined Doc Marten boots.
The symbol of blue-collar workers everywhere, the chore is among the types of jackets for men that contribute to effortless style. Designed to throw on and go in France during the late 1800s, these classic coats were made to be practical, with no fuss and no frills.
While they were once the uniform of railroad workers, farmers, and other manual laborers, today, the best chore jacket is a piece that every man needs in his closet, collar color aside. The boxy shape of the coat makes it easy to wear with anything, whether it complements a colored polo shirt or your favorite long-sleeve tee and jeans. Plus, it’s ideal for layering, making it a trusty outdoor companion no matter the season.
What do you get when you cross a shirt with a jacket? Okay, that’s a bad one, but shirt jackets (also known as overshirts) are some of the best types of jackets for men. Versatile beyond belief and a prime midweight layer, shirt jackets can be worn all year long without ever going out of fashion.
Shackets come in tons of different styles, but in general, they close with buttons or snaps up the front, which makes them resemble a regular button-down shirt—only heavier. This makes them easy to wear with your cherished tees, long-sleeve shirts, or hoodies. And when the temp starts to drop, you can throw some outerwear on top to create a warm, street-style inspired outfit.
Some men’s jacket styles are simply for show, while others are purely for function. The puffer jacket combines both, as it’s an essential piece of winter fashion in the looks and warmth department. Yes, the puffer was dreaded during middle school years—all I can think of is Randy yelling, “I can’t put my arms down!” in a Christmas Story. But these days, it’s the go-to for winter wear. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and materials, ensuring the modern man has a modern puffer to match.
Getting through winter without a men’s puffer jacket is nearly impossible (unless you live in California, in which case, I’m jealous). But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Wear puffers with knit sweaters, cardigans, or your favorite hoodie and duck boots. Just be sure that your underlayers don’t extend past the puffer’s waist. Otherwise, you’re at risk of the biggest winter fashion faux pas.
You would think that trench coats have military origins, but in fact, they were created in response to the need for an updated raincoat. In the mid-19th century, two men designed lightweight, water-repellant jackets. Their names were John Emary and Thomas Burberry. Yes, that Burberry. Both men take credit for the invention of the trench coat, especially when it rose in popularity during World War I.
Though what really exploded the trench coat was pop culture. Think movies like Casablanca, the Pink Panther, The Matrix, and The Way We Were—though out of all of these, the classic Burberry trench remains the most noteworthy. This men’s jacket style is synonymous with smart fashion. Lean into the Don Draper look with a shirt, jacket, and tie with a pair of polished Derbies.
There are plenty of different types of jackets for men, but none are quite as tried and true as the classic trucker. Designed as the third iteration of Levi’s jean jacket, the iconic form of the trucker has outlived them all and is likely what you have in mind when you think of that well-lived-in denim form.
While Levi’s is the most iconic of the lot, brand after brand has thrown its version of the trucker into the ring. Whether it’s lined with sherpa or cut in a cowboy style, the trucker jacket is the perfect accompaniment for any casual outfit. Wear truckers in true Western fashion with a pair of blue jeans, leather boots, and a big belt. Or modernize it a bit with a pair of cords or slacks, a graphic tee, and bright white kicks.
The first person who thought, “let’s chop the arms off this jacket,” probably got some weird looks. But today, vests are totally in and one of the types of jackets for men that every guy should own. If you have a vest that’s gathering dust in the back of your closet, there’s no time to wear it like the present.
Puffer vests have been particularly trendy over the past several decades, spanning all ages and outfit types. While they won’t keep your arms warm, a puffer vest is an essential transitional piece for when it’s not quite hot but not freezing, either. Pop a wooly sweater on underneath, and you’re good to go.
Wear a technical vest for men on a cool morning walk, a puffer vest on your commute to work, a sweater vest in the office, and a waistcoat (yes, we consider this a vest) to your next black tie event. No matter where you choose to wear this garment, expect a warm core and the possibility of chilly arms.
The first rule of Boy Scouts is to always be prepared, and that means carrying a raincoat with you everywhere. The best raincoats are lightweight and scrunchable, so they can be crammed into the bottom of your work bag and forgotten about until the next downpour. A raincoat is one of the types of jackets for men that you can’t live without—unless you’re an umbrella guy, in which case, I salute you.
The thing about raincoats is they don’t have to be ugly. Yes, they’re ultra-practical, but yes, they also come in a huge variety of styles and colors. Opt for a traditional yellow raincoat if it’s function over style, or a simple black one with drawstrings if you’re headed on weekend adventures. You’ll find that raincoats go with nothing, yet everything, so if you’re worried about how you look while wearing it, focus on the fact that you’re not a soggy puddle.
Mentions of the peacoat date back to the early 1700s, but we like to think its inception was with Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor. This ‘70s movie turned the men’s peacoat from drab to fab, especially when paired with Redford’s blonde mop and wire frames.
Of all the men’s jacket styles, the peacoat remains a front-runner for fall and winter fashion. Traditionally made from heavyweight wool with an oversized collar, the peacoat is a key jacket for the modern man. It looks just as good with jeans as it does with a suit, so wear it to the pub or with Sunday’s best—the choice is yours.
Among the many types of jackets for men made by the military, leather jackets have since spread their wings and branched out beyond fighting. Most popularized by bikers in the twentieth century, leather jackets served many purposes.
Aside from keeping them warm from cold air, the leather was also meant to protect bikers against road rash and other hazards on the highway. As leather jackets made their way deeper into mainstream culture, they quickly became a symbol of rebels and bad boys. Now, they’re just another stylish jacket iteration that every man needs.
If you want to go James Dean with it, wear your leather jacket with a white t-shirt and a Triumph motorcycle. Even without the bike, nothing says timeless fashion quite like a leather jacket, white shirt, pair of jeans, and slicked-back hair. Don’t forget the biker boots to complete the look.
Shearling has a true rags-to-riches story. Once used to line market stalls, this sheepskin fabric was adopted by the British Royal Air Force to outfit pilots before making it to the masses. These days, shearling is considered a luxury fabric that’s highly sought after for high-end clothing. The jackets are some of the warmest around, with a tanned suede surface and a toasty, wooly interior.
Whether you opt for full sheepskin or a soft shearling lining (cue Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront), the best shearling jackets make a cozy statement in the world of winter fashion. Throw it on over your business casual outfit with a pair of matching suede shoes, or keep it simple with khakis and a chunky knit to complement the fluffy shearling.
Originally created by Baracuta in the 1930s, the classic Harrington (the G9, to be specific) is still being produced today. One of the types of jackets for men that will never go out of style, the Harrington (dubbed Harrington after Peyton’s Place character, Rodney Harrington) is still an iconic piece.
Whether you buy an original from the pioneer or choose a Harrington jacket made by a modern brand, they’re a top layer for cooler weather. Think crisp fall mornings or chilly summer evenings. Lean into the history of the jacket by pairing it with distressed denim and Doc Martens, or give it a sleek spin with pressed slacks and a seersucker button-down.
Men’s jacket styles have gone through plenty of evolution to get where they are today. None, perhaps, more than the suede jacket. When many people think suede, they think of Dennis Hopper’s fringed number in Easy Rider. While this certainly gave suede a cult-like fan base among the free-spirited types, these days, suede jackets are more refined (and less covered in fringe).
Soft and supple, suede jackets are a luxurious investment piece for any man’s wardrobe. They immediately dial up the sophistication of an outfit, making them a prime pick for dressed-up occasions. While suede will certainly take a beating from harsh weather, it’s a great transitional material. Wear it during fall with knit sweaters or during dry spring days with a polo, slacks, and loafers.
We have to hand it to them: the Brits know a thing or two about different types of jackets for men. Likely because they’re used to awful weather. The overcoat is one example of British ingenuity, designed to wear over dapper dress, with a warm wool construction and longer fit. Originally pioneered in the 18th century, overcoats are as stylish as ever and practical, too.
If you’re looking for a jacket to wear with a suit, this is it. Every man needs an overcoat for more formal occasions that protects nicer clothing and doesn’t skimp in the fashion department.
Made from wooly fabric during the mid-1800s, the duffle coat’s most recognizable feature was (and still is) the toggle and rope closures running down the front of the jacket. This men’s jacket style is a more casual rendition of the overcoat, with a long-form and heavyweight fabric. Though, unlike the overcoat, duffles often include a hood.
Since duffle coats for men are more laid back, they suit jeans and slacks well. It’s a nice enough winter coat for office or event wear, so don’t be afraid to dress it up with tailored trousers and a pair of Chelsea boots. Though if all else fails, lean into the coziness of this men’s jacket style and wear it with your go-to joggers and worn-in hoodie.
While today’s parka looks drastically different than the first one created by the Inuit, it still serves the same purpose: keep a human warm in freezing cold conditions. Sure, we’ve swapped animal skins for ripstop nylon, but the signature fur (or faux fur) trimmed hoods remain constant.
There are dozens of men’s jacket styles for winter, but the parka stays on top of the frosty pyramid. Typically extending past the waistline, often past the rear end, these cozy coats are practical and stylish, even in extreme temperatures. The larger size makes it easy to wear a parka over workwear and even a suit. It’ll look equally at home with a pair of fleece joggers, your favorite beanie, and a pair of snow boots. One thing is certain, wherever you’re headed this winter, your parka jacket is coming with you.
When it comes to trending jackets, you’ll notice a lot of biker and bomber jackets, along with trench coats and puffer jackets. 1990s fashion is having a huge revival, so any jackets reminiscent of the nineties are a safe bet.
The best jackets for fall are denim, leather, and bomber jackets, along with unlined trench coats, lightweight sherpa jackets, and boxy chore coats. The main element to look for when choosing a jacket for fall is the ability to layer with it.
Some of the best men’s jacket brands have been around for more than 200 years, so if you’re looking for something that has stood the test of time, shop from brands like Burberry, Baracuta, and Levi’s. Though with that said, many modern brands have exceptional quality, making any jackets featured on this list a good choice in the quality department.