With fall approaching, there’s one piece of clothing we all have our eye on: a great field jacket.
Field jackets are an outerwear staple that have seen a huge resurgence lately thanks to 70s/80s nostalgia and menswear’s never-ending love affair with military-inspired clothing. As fashion connoisseurs have pointed out, the military is menswear’s most prolific designer, with staples like boots, chinos, modern suits and even T-shirts (that’s right) all being adaptations of military uniforms over the decades.
Field jackets were first introduced by the US military in World War II as a lighter, more wind and water-resistant alternative to the wool coats worn in World War I. The jacket was a huge success, as it was standard-issue until 2009. Now, it’s a rugged fashion staple you can see on everyone from Jay-Z to Tom Ford.
When picking a field jacket, your main consideration should be its purpose. Will you be using it as protection in the wilderness? A go-to office coat? Or maybe somewhere in-between? To narrow down the search, we’ve categorized field jackets and found the best option for your needs. Check them out below.
1. Alpha Industries M-65 Field Coat
This is the real deal. Before Alpha Industries was a go-to for affordable, high-quality jackets, they were an actual supplier to the US military. Their civilian jackets are now beloved by fashionistas because they provide an authentic military look, combat-ready ruggedness and a reasonable price tag. And although this M-65 field coat looks straight off the front lines, it’s actually very versatile. Wear it with jeans and a tee on the weekends, hiking shoes in the rain, or chinos and a button-up to work.
2. Goodthreads Military Jacket
Unlike leather jackets or peacoats, field jackets can be had for well under $100. Case-in-point: this jacket from Goodthreads. It clocks in at just $50 but still showcases an authentic military look and a solid cotton build. Like the Alpha Industries coat above, it’s very versatile style-wise. This, combined with the low price tag makes it a great travel companion because you can wear it with almost anything, and you don’t need to worry too much about damaging or losing it.
3. Levi’s Field Parka Jacket
BEST FOR OUTDOORS
If you’re taking your field jacket on some outdoor adventures, we recommend this field parka from Levi’s. It upgrades the classic cotton construction with a water-repellent polyester build, adds a few inches to the hem for protection and features cozy sherpa lining for warmth. It’s a serious piece of outerwear you can trust against the elements, so the sub-$100 price tag is pretty fantastic. And although it’s ideal for hiking or commuting in really nasty weather, it’s still modern enough to rock with your best outfit.
4. Carhartt Canyon Coat
BEST WORK JACKET
The ruggedness of field jackets makes them ideal for gardening, building projects or any other outdoor work when it gets chilly. If you’re planning on using your field jacket in any work environment, this Carhartt Canyon Coat is your best bet. It has a slightly longer torso for extra protection, a thick cotton construction and triple stitching on the seams for durability. The coat comes with good reviews from users (4.6 stars and 144 reviews), but they do recommend sizing down as it runs a little large.
5. Madewell Field Jacket
Not quite sure what you’ll be getting into with your field jacket? Go for this one from Madewell. Like most clothing from the minimalist masters, it’s pared-down and sophisticated with a slim-fit, making it great for the office or a casual night out. But on the flip side, it stays true to field jacket utility with a rugged construction and plenty of pockets for stashing your stuff. It also comes with a handy zip-out hood for showers, adding to the jacket’s versatility in any situation.
6. PS Paul Smith Field Jacket
Office attire is evolving, and rugged pieces such as field jackets are now more than accepted – they’re welcomed. Of course, in order to nail the look and impress your boss, an office-ready field jacket should be slightly more pulled-together and modern. This elevated field jacket from Paul Smith fits the bill with a minimal look and a sleek, waterproof cotton-blend material. For a bulletproof casual office outfit, wear it with dark jeans, a crisp white button-up and clean sneakers.
7. Saint Laurent Field Jacket
BEST DESIGNER PICK
When designers get their hands on military staples, magical things happen and we get pieces of clothing like this Saint Laurent field jacket. Unlike some flashy designer outerwear, this field jacket is actually highly wearable with a low-key style and a few upgrades. Instead of a typical fabric, the jacket is cut from premium ramie-blend twill that makes it feel as expensive as it looks. It also continues the military theme with a Saint Laurent patch on the shoulder. Use it to subtly upgrade basic jeans and a white t-shirt, or rock it with boundary-pushing outfits like baggy chinos and grail-worthy sneakers.