Published on March 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

Spring Outerwear: Two New Trends to Try

share this:

This winter has been a long, cold one for much of the country, and winter warriors can certainly be forgiven at this point for staring longingly at the breezy dresses and comfy tanks hanging unworn in their closets. While we don’t have the power to control the weather (when is that startup getting off the ground?), we can offer some fashion advice to get those pieces out of the house and on your body a little bit sooner, with the help of two key outerwear trends for spring: denim jackets and military-inspired jackets.


Trend #1: The Jean Genie

First, let’s talk denim. Unlike jeans themselves, jean jackets definitely have their ebbs and flows: for every cool ’90s grunge look or early-’00s minimalist interpretation, there’s also tragically ’80s acid-washed and horrid mid-’00s patchwork versions to contend with. But denim jackets keep coming back because they’re easygoing, comfortable, and pitched right between warm-weather and cool-weather wear– making them perfect for transitional seasons like spring and fall.

What to look for: Back-to-basics is the defining aesthetic of the current denim jacket. Ideally, it should be in a light or medium wash, without a lot of bells and whistles like weird zippers or crazy pockets. The classic collared, square shape (think what James Dean would have worn) will never do you wrong. This Gap jacket or this Juicy Couture jacket are great secondhand options, or for a splurge, try this Rag & Bone jacket in an aptly named “perfect wash” (bonus: it’s on sale!)

How to wear it: Jean jackets, like leather jackets, convey a sense of too-cool-for-school toughness, which makes them a perennially good pairing with something frilly, patterned, and/or feminine like this Parker dress or this H&M dress. And believe it or not, denim-on-denim is actually quite trendy at the moment (despite all those “Canadian tuxedo” jokes that likely scared you off trying it for the past decade or so). The key to a sophisticated denim-on-denim look is mixing both shades and shapes: if you’re wearing a loose, light-wash denim jacket, try pairing it with your darkest, most fitted skinny jeans; if you want to wear light-wash boyfriend jeans that are on the baggier side, go for a closer-cropped denim jacket in a darker wash. For either look, break up the blue with a light-colored piece under the jacket (like that favorite white tank), and layer on feminine elements like big jewelry, a bright bag, or a cute bootie to keep things from getting too industrial-looking.

military jacket

Trend #2: New Recruits

Military looks tend to come in and out of fashion (remember when camo was cool?) But one piece that it’s safe to say isn’t going anywhere is the army green parka, which has been holding strong for so long that a lot of style gurus have declared army a new neutral– move over, black and white. But since you’ve probably worn your parka to death in these colder months, it might be time to transition to a jacket that retains the military inspiration, but has a lighter feel. Here are your marching orders.

What to look for: Neutral, earthy shades (brown, black, green, tan, gray) are what defines the military jacket– if a color doesn’t seem like it’d have a chance of passing in a war zone, it’s probably best to skip it. Look for pieces with round plastic buttons or small metal knob buttons, patch pockets, trim cuts, ribbon accents at the wrists, vest-like seaming, and other hallmarks of the style. And don’t be afraid of a little embellishment: some twinkly accents at the shoulder (especially on military-inspired vests, like this one from Esley) can make the look more fun. For affordable military-style pieces, try this Ann Taylor Loft option or this Forever 21 vest. Splurgers might consider this Anine Bing coat or this Current/Elliott jacket, which has a little bit of glammed-up detailing.

How to wear it: Since military-inspired coats have a lot going on with all their pockets, crazy seams, and details like ribbon and bling, it’s best to let them do the talking and keep the rest of the outfit simple. A white tee, a dark skinny jean or slim-cut black pant, and neutral flats are always reliable choices; for evening, the frilly dress pairing that works so well with jean jackets will perform well here too (provided the jacket isn’t overly embellished). Either way, keep jewelry and bags relatively minimal. A great jacket will speak for itself.

What’s your favorite outerwear piece for these winter-spring transition months?