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The Best Shirt Jackets Warm You Up Without Making You Overheat

An essential garment for layering on top of a t-shirt or under a heftier jacket.

collage of three shirt jackets

For crisp mornings and cool nights, for falling snow, and for changing seasons — a shirt jacket. It’s a staple that can stand alone as a light top layer, or function as a stylish mid-layer beneath a heavier coat when winter arrives. Typically cut from either corduroy, flannel, fleece, twill or wool, this style — also known as an overshirt — blends the shape of a basic shirt and the sensibility of something far more substantial.

What Is a Shirt Jacket?

A shirt jacket resembles your usual shirt but feels more substantial, offering more warmth when the weather calls for it. Truly! It's that simple. But how each shirt jacket delivers the extra warmth differs: Some opt for quilting and down, while others are simply heavier and made from wool. There are oversized options and tailored-fitting ones, plus ones that lean a little bit harder into outerwear aesthetics.

Shirt Jacket vs. Overshirt

Also, to clear up the common shirt jacket, shacket, overshirt debate: They're all the same. A shirt jacket is literally what the name implies, while a shacket is just those two words put together. An overshirt achieves the same end goal, but with perhaps a slightly slimmer frame.

How to Pick the Right One

You shouldn't expect your shirt jacket to sub seamlessly in place for a heavier parka. Never. But you rightfully should expect to be able to wear it and it only in the tail end of winter or the beginnings of fall. If you opt for a lighter one — meaning one that's basically a shirt but called a shirt jacket — you could get away with layering it in the warmer months (when the evenings, at a crisp 60, feel cool).

Steer clear of super insulated ones because at that point you're better off upgrading to something more substantial. The shirt silhouette doesn't prove as flattering when puffed to its limits. Just get a puffer jacket. I recommend picking something flashier than your normal shirt, by way of texture, color or pattern. Save the stale blues and crisp whites for your Oxford shirts and other button-downs.

How to Style a Shirt Jacket

There are few pieces easy to pair than a shirt jacket, any good stylist would argue — and that's why almost every brand sells one. The simple style takes the foundation set by a standard shirt and expands upon it, enhancing it until it is fit to be worn on its own, far beyond when warmer months end.

Most shirt jackets are made from materials other than brushed cotton, meaning they're often more textural, typically warmer and significantly bulkier, too, because they're designed to be worn like a jacket — hence the name. To really shine in a shirt jacket, keep it simple. Pair it with a plain T-shirt, either short-sleeve or long-sleeve, and some faded vintage Levi's. Just look at Brad Pitt, who went viral for this look in 2021. Even though his shirt costs $2,000, it's a good formula to follow.

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