#AskSuperbalist: Men’s Outerwear

Which jacket for bae: parka, utility, harrington, anorak, sweatshirt or coat?

Hey Superbalist,

It’s my boyfriend’s birthday coming up and after lots of consultation with friends, I’ve decided to buy him a jacket. Problem is, we were divided into two camps over whether we should get a trendy branded jacket or something a bit more classic. Do you have any suggestions?



Hey Ketsiwe,

The company line would be something like, “Depends on the occasion – every man needs every jacket so as to be perfectly equipped for every situation start with the winter overcoat and work your way from there through parkas all the way to bombers.” But I’m an individual, not a company, and I won’t diminish you with such patronising retail talk. (I’m better than that, a true renegade employee who refuses to toe the party line. Sometimes, I don’t even restock the water coolers after I use them!)

So, here’s what I think: Good job to you and your friends for settling on a jacket as a gift. But in doing so, you’ve also already made the decision to go for a classic design (unless you know of a specific on-trend piece your currently-coatless love is looking for). The reason why classic jackets and coats make for inherently good gifts is because, for us lazy, entitled millennials trapped in low-paying jobs, they’re luxury essentials. All guys would love a closet full of overcoats, trench coats, and chunky layers made from denim, wool, leather, but if a man already has one versatile piece of outerwear he’d be mad to get another anorak when there’s new Nikes dropping. If he wants the latest Vetements-inspired longline bomber from an acclaimed, local up-and-comer’s next streetwear capsule, he’ll get it himself – that’s him acquiring his own status objects. But to buy a vintage-style Harrington jacket? As good as it looks, most 20-somethings don’t have that type of fashion foresight just yet.

So that’s where you, partner of the year, will jump in and get your boy dressing like a man. Whether you’re buying a trench coat or a utility jacket, get one that’s premium quality and that will get better with age, so in five years time it still looks as on-trend as ever.

I’m not going to tell you what kind of jacket to get your boyfriend without seeing him first (a nice photo along with his CV and his average body temperature would have been most helpful), but here are some ground rules for whichever one you choose. If he’s into neat chinos or fitted jeans, with no rips or distressed details, then opt for a pea coat, overcoat, Harrington jacket, or other tailored, narrow designs. He can wear those with shirts and ties, narrow belts and his leather boots, brogues or chukkas. If your boyfriend tends to dress more casually and is a fan of layering, get him a parka, anorak or utility coat. These oversize options can be paired with the thick knits, light sweaters and tower of hoodies that are already in his closet.

Otherwise just get him something that you’ll want to wear – if he’s a keeper and you’re planning on sticking around, then the jacket’s as good as yours!

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