In menswear, there are a select few garments that work harder, do more and charge less than the rest. Things like a pair of leather sneakers, some form-fitting selvedge denim, and a well-made Oxford button placket. These are items you can rely on in all seasons, wear with any outfit and rely on year after year. One of the key players in this supergroup of uber-versatile all-stars is undoubtedly the overshirt.
This all-in-one wonder garment, which falls somewhere between a light jacket and a heavy shirt, deserves more wardrobe essential status than most. Usually it has a classic collar, a few patch pockets, a slightly thicker fabric than normal shirt styles and a slightly looser cut.
But before you run out and buy, there are a few things to consider. So allow us to walk you through the finer points of this menswear must-have, from purchasing considerations to where to get the best bang for your buck.
Why do you need an overshirt?
Our love for overshirts runs deep, and while there are countless reasons to value this staple, one overshadows them all: versatility.
It’s hard—no, impossible—to think of another piece of clothing that can be dressed, dressed, reused for different seasons, and worn so many times. Wear it in the winter, throw it over your knitwear as a light jacket in the spring and fall, roll up the sleeves and pull it over a T-shirt on summer evenings on the town. An overshirt really has all bases covered, making it one of those rare and precious pieces of clothing that can be pulled off the hanger every morning without a second thought.
If there’s one tier worth investing in this, it’s this one. Simple, easy to wear and one of the best all-rounders any man could wish for.
How do you choose the right overshirt?
First things first, before you put on a new overshirt, there are a few things to keep in mind. From finding the right fit to selecting the right fabric, here’s what you need to know.
How an overshirt should fit depends on what you want to use it for. If you just want to wear it over a T-shirt, a slim fit will work just fine. However, if you want the option to wear it with more layers, a roomier cut is recommended. When it comes to getting the most wear and tear all year round, the latter is probably the best option.
There are plenty of options when it comes to overshirt fabric, with some being better suited for certain seasons than others. For example, a heavy wool or denim overshirt is perfect for use during the colder months, but not so much in the summer. For something you can wear all year round, go for a simple cotton twill or nylon version.
This part is largely due to personal preference. Options such as zip or button closure, pockets and embellishments can drastically change the look of an overshirt. Consider what kind of look you’re after before jumping in and buying something you’ll regret. In our experience, restrained and minimal is usually best.
Overshirts come in everything from vibrant patterns and bold block colors to subtle neutrals and natural earth tones. Choose which ones to go for centers largely around the season. Gray, black or navy blue are safe options all year round, while it’s probably best to keep the colorful prints for summer and rich fall hues for fall/winter.
The best overshirt brands
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of doing things locally, which is one of the reasons we love Wax London so much. The brand is on a mission to bring production back to the UK which is why all of its overshirts are made here in England. The Whiting overshirt is the label’s hero piece and is available in a range of colours, patterns and fabrics. But whatever you go for, you get the same high quality, relaxed fit and versatility.
Premium basics brand ASKET makes some of the best wardrobe essentials out there, but it was the overshirts that caught our attention. The Swedish label only makes one overshirt, but it really is the only overshirt you’ll ever need. It has a classic straight cut, three pockets and is available in a range of understated, versatile colours. Excellent quality, as always, and the direct-to-consumer business model means you pay less than for the same elsewhere.
The British brand L’Estrange only produces timeless wardrobe basics; the kind of pieces that you can effortlessly mix and match for any occasion and wear every day. The overshirt is the epitome of this ethos: bringing the classic silhouette up to date with a refined, slim cut that allows it to be worn with everything from dress pants to jeans. It’s available in organic stretch cotton and merino wool flannel, so you can wear it all year round.
Closed, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, is a family business that started life as a denim specialist. Since its inception in 1978, sustainability has always been at the forefront of everything it does, which translates into garments that use the finest fabrics sourced from like-minded companies worldwide. The overshirts are available in a small selection of styles, centering on materials such as rich indigo denim, buttery soft suede and pure cotton twill.
One day in March
It’s hard to pick our favorite thing about A Day’s March, but if we really wanted an answer, we’d have to say the overshirts. The brand’s ethos of producing only the essential items and putting all its energy into making them the best it can be lends itself to a garment like this. Perhaps that’s why the overshirt has been one of ADM’s core pieces from the very beginning. And maybe that’s why it’s one of the best in the game.
Combining workwear and streetwear influences with a good dose of Scandi minimalism, Norse Projects is the kind of label you can fill your entire wardrobe with. Functional basics such as overshirts, heavy chinos and chunky sweaters are at the heart of Norse’s output. It is clothing that is both stylish and hardwearing, making it worth every penny.
Based in Hackney in East London, Percival combines quintessential British style with the finest internationally sourced fabrics and materials to produce a fresh take on wardrobe essentials. The overshirts have a distinct workwear aesthetic and are available in a wide range of beautifully textured, sturdy fabrics such as flannel, wool, cotton twill and corduroy – perfect for layering over a t-shirt or under an overcoat when the temperature drops .
Arket, owned by H&M, on the high street of Swedish minimalism (image shown, top), is the savvy shopper’s choice when it comes to buying a quality overshirt that won’t break the bank. Expect understated styling, a good mix of contemporary and classic cuts and an extremely attractive cost-per-wear ratio.
Getting good, stylish clothes on a tight budget has not always been an easy task. But thanks to Uniqlo, it’s not the battle it once was. The Japanese street hero’s seasonal collections are tightly curated, with an overarching focus on high-quality fabrications and constructions. The overshirt is a year-round staple, with subtle styling and reasonable prices as standard.
Known and loved for its innovative fabrics and unconventional dyeing techniques, Italian luxury brand Stone Island has long been a factor to reckon with in menswear. The overshirt is a common thread through the label’s seasonal collections, with modern tweaks and compass badge branding as trademark design motifs.
There is a lot of love for British label Universal Works: the unstructured tailoring, the old-fashioned fabrics, the design team’s ability to create garments that somehow feel both modern and timeless. But above all, the brand’s Baker Jacket stands out. It has quickly become Universal Work’s signature piece and remains one of the best overshirts on the market.