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The Best Lightweight Jackets for In-Between Weather

Unlined, open-front jackets that won't make you overheat.


The switch from one season to the next doesn't happen as smoothly as a line change in hockey or the handing off of a baton in a relay race. There's overlap, a waiting period wherein weird weather lies. It's cool in the morning, warm by lunch, and even warmer by the mid-afternoon — and then cold again as the evening creeps in.

Transitional remains the best way to describe it. And there's a growing number of brands dedicating collections to this cold-but-kind-of-hot time of year. For those suffering through living in places with four defined seasons, this phenomenon takes place twice a year, when spring turns into summer and when summer fades into fall. And it seems, at least for me, when it does, I lose my ability to dress accordingly.

I'm caught in a heavy coat when the high is still in the mid-70s, missing my warmer layer when temperatures hit the low 50s. Either way, I've learned from my mistakes and found quite a few jackets that can be layered overtop sweatshirts for the ultra-mild moments, paired with a T-shirt for temperate days, and carried around with ease when it gets too steamy.

What to Look for

When you want versatility, it's best to go with some unlined. Liners are the best defense against the bitter cold, but they're also what will make you sweat when the sun starts shining. Simple cotton, canvas, denim, flannel or linen coats are the most breathable, which means they can serve as a solid top layer with a hoodie or thermal underneath or stand on their own with just a T-shirt beneath them. They offer the most versatility — and that's what you need.

As you'll notice below, I've targeted a specific silhouette — a cross between an Eisenhower jacket, a mechanics jacket and a classic coach jacket. The latter is usually made from nylon, but nylon doesn't breathe as well as cotton or linen. Sure, it's great at keeping water out, but it won't make cooling down easy. These jackets have zipper fronts, standard collars and two angled hand pockets (for the most part). Why? Well, because this style looks great with a hoodie underneath, and put together if you wear it with chinos and a T-shirt. It's the "best of both worlds" jacket you've been looking for.

3 Ways You Can Wear a Lightweight Jacket

  • Try layering a tonal hoodie underneath. If the jacket is predominantly blue, for example, try a hoodie in a similar shade. On the contrary, gray usually works well if you can't find a color that you think matches.
  • Zip it all the way up. I know it might sound uncomfortable or even conjure your friend that buttons his shirts all the way up, but zipping a simple, flat-front jacket to the top is the easiest way to look done up. Blazers be damned.
  • Try it with a T-shirt. If it's a bit warm where you are, put a white tee on underneath. The contrast will make the jacket more casual.

      The Best Lightweight Jackets for Men

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          Best Overall Lightweight Jacket
          Wax London
          Chase Jacket Black/Khaki
          Best Upgrade Lightweight Jacket
          Knickerbocker Bonneville Zip Jacket
          Best Affordable Lightweight Jacket
          Dickies Unlined Eisenhower Jacket
          Folk Twill Signal Blouson
          Rhythm Mechanic Cord Jacket
          General Admission Nard Check Jacket
          Pass~Port Cord Zip Up Jacket
          Thrills Minimal Work Jacket
          Soulland Windom Work Jacket
          Carhartt WIP Carhartt WIP Detroit Jacket
          Nigel Cabourn Check Short Flight Jacket
          Brixton Utopia Jacket
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