The first breeze of autumn probably gave you a tough-love reminder that rocking a shirt and shorts at all hours of the day is sadly coming to an end. So, what’s the solution? Windbreakers or a lightweight jacket.
These usually waterproof jackets made from a combination of synthetic and natural fibres, with weather resistant properties derived from nylon, polyamide, and wool. They’re normally worn as part of an athletic ensemble, but that’s not to say they’re limited to the running track.
Lightweight outwear is a big net to cast, and there’s something to accommodate every bloke inside.
This list of the finest windbreakers will throw you an important lifeline for that weird not-cold-but-not-hot interval between summer and real autumn.
We’re giving you essentials for those days where the heavy-duty outerwear is too much firepower, but risking an afternoon shower in your favourite button-down doesn’t tickle your fancy.
Adidas is the apex predator of athletic menswear. Founded in Germany in 1924 (by a dude called Adolf, but we’ll let that one go) and incorporated as ‘Adidas’ in 1949, you would have suffered a spectacularly sheltered upbringing to not run into the brand’s iconic striped, triangular logo at some point.
Adidas also offer retro-inspired lightweight jackets to complement their spectacular kicks and streetwear. The yellow NMD windbreaker is made from a lightweight polyester, for those days when the sky is threatening to open up on you.
In a vibrant yellow, this jacket suits an understated ensemble with a plain or navy tee, jeans, and your Stan Smiths (gotta commit to the branding).
Californian dudes Patagonia have been delivering premium outdoor kit since 73’, in line with a commitment to ethical, environmentally-kosher production.
Patagonia champion the variety of ‘silent sports’ in the outdoors, and they make hard-wearing kit for every occasion where you’ll find snow, surf, or dirt. Their quilted shell hooded down jacket is appropriately outdoorsy, produced with sturdy shell that won’t weigh you down like a ballistic vest. The perfect formula of windbreakers.
In a navy, it’s easy to combine with an existing wardrobe, and reasonably tailored despite its robust down and feather insulation.
With this option, Patagonia have got you covered for seedy, reluctant Sunday hikes with the missus or bush doofs, without making you look like a loopy survivalist.
Nike need no introduction, and they certainly deserve a second look outside their steadily popular kicks and runners. Nike have been in the shoe game since 1972, and have been producing outerwear for runners and early-morning fitness freaks for nearly as long. This white windbreaker, as a retro revival piece, harkens to bad old days of windbreaker fame, without resembling something dorky you’d encounter in an 80’s teen movie. Its lightweight properties make it equally useful for casual layering on colder days, or over a tee when you finally decide to get your shit together and go for runs in the morning.
When your rich mate from school mentions all the Prada stuff his parents buy for him, it’s likely that windbreakers and light jackets aren’t the first things to come to mind. If anything, luxury athletic outerwear probably sounds like a post-modern oxymoron. But Prada are giving the middle-finger to naysayers with its slim-fit shell hooded jacket. This jacket is minimalistic, with single colouring and next to no detailing. The polyamide fabric ensures stress-free winter wearing, making it indispensable for cold days on the run. As mentioned, it’s luxury on steroids, so anticipate a price tag to correspond.
To many of you, Loro Piana is synonymous with luxury suiting. Premium suiting labels owe a lot to LP, have been taking full advantage of their exemplary cloths for decades. But fortunately for you, the good stuff doesn’t stop there. Loro Piana also offer lightweight outerwear and windbreakers for the chilly, autumnal trans-seasonal days ahead. The Bayswater jacket is crafted with weather-resistant nylon and polyurethane that could comfortably ride out a hurricane from hell. In a soft khaki, it’s cut in a tailored line that wouldn’t clash with your corporate staple suit and tie. Resistant to both hazardous weather, and the possibility of looking like a chump. This option will run you the same monetary investment as a Saville Row bespoke number, so make it thoughtful investment once you’ve secured all the other staples.
Quirky Brit designer Paul Smith might be known as the dude who puts strawberry skulls on everything (and sometimes makes top-notch suits). Outside of suiting (and weird logos) he does some fair dinkum trans-seasonal outerwear.
This navy hooded jacket will keep you feeling warm and looking cool – it’s constructed from wool and feather, so you can leave the undershirt and additional layers at home. This jacket is well insulated, but without the unsightly bulk of other wet-weather coats. Smith hasn’t forgotten about making his outerwear adaptable for nights out, either.
You can combine the jacket with a shirt and smart pants with a straight face, as much you can with your crossfit gear (that you only break out once a week).
NYC-based Battenwear are champions of vintage outerwear, inspired by adventurers who surfed, climbed, and skied across the American outdoors in the 70’s and 80’s.
Battenwear aren’t committed to the rear-view mirror, though. They have their fun with new, original concepts for the contemporary outdoorsman. Designer Shinya Hasegawa believes that winter kit shouldn’t necessarily be confined to drab browns or greys – even if the weather sucks and you miss getting sunburnt at the beach, you can still have some fun with the dress code. Battenwear happily facilitate that fantasy with the ‘Scout’ floral anorak, made from bulletproof Oxford cotton.
With a bold floral pattern, it’s a combination of sturdy weather resistance and sartorial bravery – not for the understated dressers in the audience. The floral print isn’t leaving much to the imagination, so keep the rest of the ensemble on the more modest side of the fence. Let the anorak do the talking.
The Brits know a thing or two about keeping it together during the colder months (because they only get summer once every few years). Their grasp of durable, dashing outerwear is unparalleled. Musto Shooting incorporate iconic British past-times – sailing, shooting, and faffing about in cloudy, rain swept country towns – and apply their understanding to creating outerwear that will help you conquer a London winter like a proper British chap. The Highland Ultra Lite jacket will look smart over your go-to navy suit or a chino-and-tee combo, keeping yourself and your underclothes dry thanks to its weather-resistant GORE-TEX material. Although quintessentially British, fear not – Musto Shooting won’t make you look like an old aristocrat, with six middle names and a country estate, that spends his time fox hunting. You’ll simply be able to add a touch of old world charm to your contemporary winter rotation.
Theory are D’Marge house favourites due to their understated, masculine ethos that doesn’t implode across the changes of seasonal fashion trends. Theory embrace a minimalist, unassuming aesthetic with clean lines, monochromatic colour choices, and a rotation of timeless staples that fit into any wardrobe. Their slim-fit shell coach jacket is a genuine no-brainer, with all the key winter-protection criteria being met in its fabric and construction process. In a slim-cut navy, it’s an easy way to smarten up an early-winter casual ensemble, and its simplicity lends itself to combinations with a variety of colours and patterns. Expect to wear it across several winters – it won’t become uncool anytime soon.
Moncler are alpine heroes responsible for keeping generations of recklessly brave skiers warm during winter trips to the Alps. Named after a picturesque village in the French Alps, Moncler have become famous for being worn by plenty of guys that spend their afternoons wiping out in the snow, and breaking various bones in the process. Aside from that, they make some killer lightweight autumn gear for urban explorers that haven’t quite mastered the art of skiing and looking cool at the same time. The Anton jacket is light as silk, with water resistant material and drawstrings on the hood and hem for unlucky moments caught in the rain. The red-black stripes add a sportier, distinctive aesthetic, that looks sensible with a pair of jeans and white kicks. A solid option even if a winter trip to the Austrian snow isn’t on the cards (this year).