It’s difficult to know what to wear when the weather won’t pick a lane. Don your winter coat and sod’s law dictates there’ll be a tropical heatwave within 10 minutes of leaving the house. Dare to venture out in a mere T-shirt, on the other hand, and the mercury will undoubtedly plummet.
It’s this trans-seasonal weather that tends to leave even the most sartorially savvy of men scratching their neatly coiffed heads in confusion. But it needn’t be so problematic.
Striking the balance is all down to having the right tools at your disposal and an overshirt should be the first thing on your list.
There are few garments a man can keep reaching for 12 months of the year but an overshirt is one of them. You can wear it open with the sleeves cuffed on summer evenings. You can team it with a big coat and knitwear as a stylish winter layering piece. You can even use it as a light jacket for when the weather is neither here nor there.
Suffice to say it’s a wardrobe essential. If you don’t already own one, now’s the time to invest.
To help you find on the perfect one, we tested a range of overshirts from some key brands, assessing their quality, looks and fit; wearing them out and about to paint the best possible picture.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Asket the overshirt
If you haven’t yet been acquainted with Swedish label Asket, this overshirt is the perfect introduction. It’s simple and understated but look a little closer and you’ll find that every little detail has been perfectly executed. The fit is glove-like, the fabric is soft and luxurious and there’s a premium feel to every aspect, right down to the neatly finished French seams and Italian corozo buttons. It’s a fine example of what Asket is all about: the simple things done well. Thanks to the brand’s direct-to-consumer model, it’s not too harsh on the wallet either.
Buy now £100.00, Asket
Stan Ray cord cpo overshirt
Sometimes all you need to bring an outfit to life is a little bit of texture, and a corduroy overshirt can provide exactly that. Stan Ray has been producing robust, functional workwear since the Seventies, albeit with a bit more of a streetwear slant in recent years, and this overshirt is one of its staple pieces. It has a loose, oversized fit that lends itself nicely to layering and this particular version is rendered in thick corduroy fabric that’s perfect for autumn and winter. Oh, and it’s extremely purple, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Buy now £90.00, Flatspot
Stone Island t.co+old overshirt
The overshirt has long been a seasonal staple for Stone Island. This one from the Italian luxury sportswear brand’s latest collection is finished in a deep blue colour that gives a nod to the traditional French worker jacket – arguably the original overshirt – and features a double chest pocket and the signature compass badge. In typical Stone Island fashion, it has also undergone a special dyeing process which gives the garment a nice worn-in appearance. The two-way zip means you can wear it zipped right up to the top and open at the bottom, a bit like a cape, if you’re that way inclined. As with most the brand’s pieces, this overshirt runs small, so we’d recommend going one up from your usual size.
Buy now £305.00, Stone Island
Cos organic cotton utility-style overshirt
It’s not easy to find a high-quality, stylish overshirt for under £100, but this one from high street retailer COS ticks all the boxes. At its core, it’s a classic overshirt but contemporary details like the oversized chest pockets and relaxed cut mean it’ll stand out from the crowd. The deep navy colour will most likely work across most of your wardrobe, or, if you prefer something lighter, there’s a beige version that’s just as versatile.
Buy now £79.00, Cos
Universal Works bakers overshirt
This UK label has a knack for making stylish, utilitarian garb that somehow manages to look both modern and like it came from the costume department of a period drama. We’re not exactly sure what you’d call that aesthetic, but whatever it is, we’re a fan of it. The bakers overshirt is a stripped-back version of Universal Works’s classic bakers jacket and features a regular fit and an interesting arrangement of pockets to the front. The cuffs are left unbuttoned for easy rolling, and fit wise it runs true to size. All in all, it’s a classic piece from a homegrown label at a reasonable price.
Buy now £97.00, Universal Works
C.P Company garment-dyed gabardine overshirt
Italian label C.P. Company is known for putting goggles and watch viewer lenses on everything, and if you thought it’d draw the line at overshirts you’d be very much mistaken. Crafted from a tough, but lightweight cotton, this zip-through overshirt from the Stone Island sister brand features two flap pockets to the chest, a decorative pocket with lens detail to the sleeve and adjustable button cuffs. Where fit is concerned, we found a large to be more like a medium, so opt for the bigger size if you’re usually in between.
Buy now £215.00, End Clothing
Topman zebra-print overshirt
Subtlety is not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person that likes your clothing to make a statement, the usual crop of stripped-back, minimalist overshirts may not be to your liking. Enter Topman, with this jazzy zebra number that features dual chest pockets. In terms of fit and design, it’s a classic overshirt through and through, but the eye-catching print really makes it pop. If you decide to go down this route, just remember to keep the rest of your outfit nice and simple to let the shirt do the talking.
Buy now £31.99, Topman
Le Laboureur work jacket
The classic blue French worker jacket – or bleu de travail, as it’s known in France – has been around since the late 1800s and was one of the earliest examples of the overshirt as we know it today. Back then, they were mostly unlabelled, but in the early 20th century Le Laboureur became one of the first manufacturers to officially put its name to the design. This is the brand’s version of the traditional garment and it’s much the same today as it was back then. It’s still cut from thick cotton-drill cloth, features three patch pockets and one internal pocket and is finished in that rich royal blue colour that is typical of this conventional workwear style.
Buy now £80.00, Northern Fells
NN07 Pete 1387 cotton overshirt
When you make as many shirts as NN07, you get pretty good at it. For proof, just take a look at this tastefully understated cotton-twill number. The fabric is reassuringly thick and weighty but still nice and soft to the touch. Plus, the fit is on the boxy side which allows for layering some nice heavy knitwear underneath. That’s not to say it’s oversized though. It’s still fitted enough to slot seamlessly underneath an overcoat, or a more substantial jacket. The lack of excessive detail or branding makes it super versatile and an absolute breeze to style, too.
Buy now £179.00, The Hip Store
Uniqlo u fleece overshirt
Part of Uniqlo’s seasonal capsule collection designed by Christophe Lemaire, this fleece overshirt is ideal for tackling the colder weather in style. The earthy brown colour is perfect for slotting right into your autumn and winter wardrobe and the textured fleecy fabric is just right for adding a bit of additional depth to layered looks. Plus, it comes in at a fraction under £40, which is very reasonable for such a solid shirt designed by the former Hermès artistic director himself.
Buy now £39.90, Uniqlo
Vetra twill workwear jacket
Since the Twenties, French family business Vetra has been producing some of the finest workwear in Europe. Today, you’re more likely to see its garments being worn by style-savvy city dwellers than mid-century tradesmen, but the quality and authenticity haven’t changed one bit. The twill workwear jacket has been produced at the family factory since day one and features a classic three-pocket design with black buttons and a traditional collar.
Buy now £142.00, Vetra
The verdict: Men’s overshirts
The overshirt is a wardrobe basic. That means it should be simple, versatile and built to last. Asket’s option puts a massive tick in each of those boxes for us and we think you’ll struggle to find better quality at the same price. If you like the idea of owning a little bit of history, however, you should go for Le Laboureur’s traditional French worker jacket in blue.
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