What’s the Perfect Transitional Jacket?
Because of the increasingly hot weather, I have worn the lightest cotton tunics, pants and sandals pretty much all summer, but I need a jacket to get me through the cooler weather. The ones I already have are rather old and worn, either too small or have huge shoulders. What’s the answer? — Leslie, Redlands, Calif.
What you are looking for is that elusive garment: the perfect transitional jacket. This quest hits close to home for those of us on the fashion show circuit since the season begins in New York with 80-degree weather and ends in Paris with rainy, 50-degree weather.
Where to find a jacket that can bridge a 30-degree drop is a conundrum we all share — and one that climate change and unpredictable weather patterns are likely to make more widespread in the years ahead.
To come up with an answer, I decided to grill some of my fellow fashion travelers for solutions. Their responses fell almost uniformly into two camps.
One group favored the short trench coat. According to Samira Nasr, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, a trench is no longer just for rain but is ideal most of the time because it is light enough to wear over a T-shirt and roomy enough to accommodate a sweater. It can even be worn indoors belted over jeans. (For a role model of this strategy, consider the designer Kate Spade, who was a major proponent of the trench-as-dress look.)
“For anyone building a wardrobe of stylish basics, a trench is key,” Ms. Nasr said. “Belted, it elevates any outfit.”
For options, check out Madewell, Ba&sh and, starting Oct. 9, the next round of Target collaborations, including a two-tone take on the classic trench from La Ligne and a scallop-edged number from Kika Vargas.
Beyond the trench, there’s the oversize blazer contingent, represented by Lauren Santo Domingo, a founder of Moda Operandi.
As a garment, she said, the big blazer “feels like outerwear but at the same time is professional and can be worn over a ribbed tank top with a chunky sweater tied around the neck like a scarf.” That chunky sweater can go underneath when it gets cooler.
As it happens, the runways this season have been rife with exactly these kinds of oversize blazers — Dries Van Noten did a particularly fetching version — which means they will most likely trickle down to labels that are not in the high-fashion price bracket. While we wait for that to happen, good options can already be found at the Frankie Shop, COS and Zara.
Just remember one rule when it comes to transitional dress, Ms. Santo Domingo said: “If you do fall on top, do summer on the bottom, or vice versa.” So wear open-toed shoes with the jacket and sweater, or boots with the tank. Consider it seasoning.
Your Style Questions, Answered
Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to her anytime via email or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.