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Don’t Underestimate the Overshirt

With its workwear origins and modern refinement, the overshirt is the secret to mid-season style. Here’s our two-minute guide to this season’s more important and versatile piece.

Date: 2021-03-18

Like most guys, you probably have a closet full of button-down shirts. And like most guys, you probably haven’t had much cause to wear them over the last 12 months. With the return to full 9-5 office attire still out of sight for most of us right now, the idea of adding another button-down to your rotation might seem odd. The overshirt (aka the shirt jacket, or the “shacket”), however, is no ordinary button-down. Here’s why it deserves a prime spot in your spring wardrobe.

Its Function Is in the Name

As its name suggests, the overshirt is made to be worn over another layer, rather than under a suit jacket. As such, overshirts are not meant to be tucked in (hence their shorter shirttails) and can easily be worn unbuttoned. Their other common distinguishing feature is a set of buttoned breast pockets, which nod to the shirt’s military field jacket origins. A close cousin to the perennially-popular chore coat and the classic safari jacket, the overshirt’s utilitarian background lends it a rugged, masculine feel along with an impressive amount of functionality.

Shirt or Jacket? Why Choose?

More casual than a sports jacket, and more adaptable than a standard button-down, the beauty of the overshirt is its casual versatility. Typically cut from sturdy cotton cloth, but also found in rain and-wind resistant technical fabric, an overshirt is designed to offer an added layer of weather protection – which can be essential during the widely fluctuating weather of spring and fall. Better still, throwing it on over a t-shirt or henley does more than just add another layer of insulation. Thanks to the overshirt’s classical button-down silhouette, it also serves to smarten up your sneakers and jeans or add a military-inspired edge to your trousers and loafers.

GABBA Harbin Cotton Shirt Jacket | Joop! Hearts Slim-Fit Stretch Overshirt 

Classic Design, Modern Refinement

All of these factors make the overshirt a favourite canvas for fashion designers to experiment on, resulting in countless variations of styles, fabrics and details for you to choose from. In addition to examples in traditional cottons and flannels, options cut from stretch nylon or insulated with goose down promise a subtly fashion-forward take on the overshirt silhouette. This means that you’re bound to find an overshirt that suits your style, and you’re also likely to find a surprising number of occasions to wear it. Those other shirts in your closet may not see the light of day for a while yet, but we don’t think you’ll miss them.