If you like clothes, you like fall. In fact, even if you don’t like clothes, you know that you look better in a jacket than a big puffy coat, right? Fall is simply the season, whether you’re a fashionista or a regular joe: you can wear boots, jeans, and a medium weight jacket and look the best you’ll look all year.
At Stridewise we tend to focus on heritage style, which is basically high-end casual wear that’s based on or inspired by designs and durable materials people used for work about a hundred years ago. (Or over a thousand years ago in the case of one of these jackets.)
Since this is the best time of year for jackets, I thought I’d walk you through the ones I relish bringing out of my closet when it’s chilly-but-not-freezing-cold. We’re walking through multiple options for leather, waxed cotton, and there’s even a denim dyed with black beans. Trust us, you’ll like it when you see it.
1. Best Value Leather Jacket: Thursday Racer
Just like their boots, Thursday’s leather jackets offer tremendous value for your money. .
Most of Thursday’s Racer jackets (including my Natural variant) are made with lambskin, but you might also find some in their collection, like the Black Matte, to be made from cowhide. This makes the Black Matte the best value of their Racer jackets, but the lambskin ones are no slouch.
A pro tip: an easy way see if a jacket is cheaply made is to look for a stitch running along the chest. It means the company is using more pieces of leather, which saves money, and it’s an immediate sign a guy was trying to save money when he bought his jacket. Thursday’s Racer is one long, lovely panel of leather on either side, making for a clean, sleek look that’s ideal for fall weather. It’s not the thickest leather on Earth, but that means it’s flexible, good for layering, and can be worn in more climes.
Something that’s worth emphasizing is that Thursday’s jackets come in three fits: slim, athletic, and relaxed. I’ve never seen another brand do this and it definitely makes them stand out in the industry. I grabbed my jacket before they started offering a variety of fits, so mine’s a more generic one. Today, I’d go with an athletic fit, but I’ve got no complaints.
$349. I’d expect a good $500 at a minimum for a jacket like this.
Who should buy the Thursday Racer?
- Anyone who loves sleek, minimal looks.
- Guys on a budget; the value is absolutely outstanding.
- Folks who like a wide range of colors and materials to choose from.
Who Shouldn’t buy the Thursday Racer?
- Guys who want the more classic motorcycle look.
- Anyone who needs a thicker, bulkier leather.
2. Best Chore Jacket: The Vise Jacket from Kato
Next we have Kato, a heritage brand founded by a Japanese guy that makes everything in Los Angeles. The Vise is their rendition of the classic chore coat, or chore jacket.
I’m a huge fan of chore coats: they’re casual but elevated, and they typically have longer fits that suit my weirdly elongated torso. It’s a classic look that a lot of brands sell, but what I like in particular about this Vise jacket is that it’s made from moleskin, which is rather rare. It’s not actually moleskin, of course, it’s a heavy cotton fabric that’s sheared to create a soft pile on one side, so it feels a little like chamois leather and might be more durable. (It’s certainly a lot easier to repair than a leather jacket!)
I used to think moleskin was dainty and stained easily like suede, but it’s actually really tough; it was first used by farmers and hunters in medieval Europe and it has a lot of history in European armies in the 40s and 50s.
It’s a really sharp looking and soft fabric that has a luster that ages wonderfully, slowly losing its initial “shine” and giving way to lovely undulations of color. Kato sells a couple of other moleskin Vise jackets along with a variety of other fabrics; I’m a big fan of the recycled cotton one.
$348. This is the price of the moleskin ones, but the regular cotton Vise jackets are $268.
Who Should Buy The Vise Jacket from Kato?
- Anyone who wants a classic French chore jacket in moleskin.
- Guys who have longer torsos.
- Folks interested in Japanese fabrics.
- People who value USA-made garments.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Vise Jacket from Kato?
- If you don’t want to pay this much, there are chore coats out there that’ll run you cheaper — they just won’t be American made with Japanese fabric.
3. Best Canvas Jacket: Tanuki Yoroi Heavy Canvas Utility Jacket
Tanuki is very low on stock for this jacket so I shouldn’t spend too much time on it, but I did have to talk about my other blue jacket. This brand is making a huge name for themselves with innovative spins on denim and streetwear, and this canvas offering deserves praise.
Yoroi is a word that means ‘armor’ and it’s appropriate because this is 25-ounce unwaxed canvas. If you read a lot about heavy cotton jackets like this, you might have heard of the Ship John Wills Jacket, which is famously heavy at 24 ounces. But that jacket is 18 ounces unwaxed, the Yoroi is 25 ounces! heaviest cotton jacket you’ve heard of, or at least that you hear about regularly is the Ship John Wills Jacket, but that’s actually 18 ounces when it’s unwaxed and 24 when it’s waxed. Wouldn’t that make it scratchy and inflexible, you ask? Nope, they treat it with enzymes so it’s softened up for you.
It’s a monstrously thick and tough canvas that I wore all over Guatemala this summer, below you can see me wearing it while riding a horse up a volcano, and nothing feels more appropriate for riding a horse up a volcano than thick canvas — and it breathes a hell of a lot better than waxed canvas.
[Related: The Best Waxed Canvas Jackets for Men]
The important thing to note is that it’s oversized for a Japanese streetwear type fit, so I sized down from my usual 42 to a 40. You might think it’s still a little baggy, but I’ve learned to love this fit and it works great with a hoodie underneath.
Usually $365. It’s very hard to find canvas this thick, stitching it requires industrial machinery, and the overdyed fabric treatment is labor intensive. For something that’ll last a good ten years, it’s not a bad buy.
Who Should Buy the Tanuki Yoroi Heavy Canvas Utility Jacket?
- Denimheads who want something a bit different from the standard jean jacket.
- Anyone who wants bragging rights to the heaviest canvas jacket around.
- Guys who want a thick jacket that breathes better than waxed canvas.
- Guys who like baggier looking jackets.
Who Shouldn’t Buy the Tonuki Yorioi Heavy Canvas Utility Jacket?
- Anyone who prefers modern, tailored fits.
- Guys who think there’s a limit to how thick you your fabrics, is 25 ounces overkill? I don’t think so, but you might.
4. Best Coverall: Oni’s Dobby Coverall
One of my newest jackets is very exciting. Made by the Japanese company Oni, best known for their jeans (of which I own 3 pairs), this is their very popular Dobby Coverall jacket. The reason this is such an exciting jacket is that it’s my first sashiko jacket.
Sashiko means “little stabs” and it’s a type of traditional Japanese embroidery or stitching that, according to textile historian Cynthia Shaver, was mentioned in reference to a monk’s robe way back in the 8th century.
To strengthen used homespun clothes, people used the sashiko method to repair or reinforce their garments and it became a popular method of making clothes for farming and hard work because it’s very durable. Firefighters also employed it because it can absorb a lot of water — they’d soak a few layers of sashiko in water before running into the blaze.
I should note that real Sashiko is done by hand and a jacket made like that would cost thousands of dollars. This is called Sashiko-like, in that it’s a similar process but done with a machine.
Who should buy the Pure Blue Oni Sashiko?
- Guys who want something extremely unique with the Sashiko stitching.
- Anyone who values durability in their garments.
- Guys who are after something lightweight.
- People who want a jacket that “covers all,” this long jacket will probably cover your butt when it’s on you.
Who Shouldn’t buy the Pure Blue Oni Sashiko?
- Stockier guys might find it a bit long in the torso.
- Folks looking for something very warm.
5. Best Higher End Leather Jacket: Schott’s Cafe Racer
Next up is my café racer leather jacket from Schott NYC, because as much as I love cotton varieties there’s just no substitute for a good leather jacket.
I made an 18-minute long video about this jacket a while back because I love it so much. This cowhide is thicker than the aforementioned Thursday jacket (and the price is higher to match), with the brand describing the leather as,
Full Aniline, drum dyed, hand cut, drummed, chrome-tanned, cowhide leather from plump & spongy hides, made with an oil and aniline finish that gives a rustic old look and a soft “hand”.
[Further reading: How to Clean and Condition a Leather Jacket]
The Cafe Racer is quite slim, and I seldom zip it up — but I’d contend that leather jackets are made to be unzipped. If you’re a stockier guy, though, you might want to consider a different jacket from Schott. As the best American leather jacket brand, I’ve no doubt you’ll find one.
$850. It’s thick cowhide and it’s made in America, and it’s pretty tough to find a jacket with those two qualities for less. (Not if you want to avoid those unseemly stitches across the chest that some companies use to save money.)
Who should buy the Schott leather jacket?
- Anyone who wants a tough and durable cowhide leather jacket.
- Guys who like slimmer fitting jackets.
- People who value American made and American owned brands.
Who Shouldn’t buy the Schott leather jacket?
- Guys who have a husky build, it may not be the most flattering.
- Anyone who wants a technical motorcycle jacket.
6. Best Trucker Jacket: Flint and Tinder Lined Trucker
The first waxed canvas jacket on this list is the Trucker Jacket from Flint and Tinder.
Made with a 7 oz sailcloth from Fairfield Textiles in New Jersey, this isn’t the thickest canvas you’ll find but that means it’s flexible and lightweight — and it’ll still wear hard. A big upside is the flannel lining; waxed canvas is tough and looks great, but it tends to feel like wearing a sticky wet shirt. The lining eliminates that risk, turning this inexpensive jacket into one I tend to wear more often than my other waxed jackets.
It’s also very casual, modeled after traditional Type 1 denim jackets. This means that while it’s fine with a casual button down, I don’t mind tossing it on with some sneakers and a beat up ball cap — I don’t feel like I can do that with a lot of other waxed jackets.
$240, an unusually low price for American waxed jackets.
Who should buy the Flint Tinder Trucker Jacket?
- Men who love the way waxed canvas ages.
- Guys who want a little water resistance with their canvas jackets.
- Men who value American made.
- People who don’t want to spend too much; this is a famously reasonable price for what you’re getting.
Who Shouldn’t buy the Flint Tinder Jacket?
- Guys who prefer natural materials; the flannel lining is made with polyester.
- Guys looking for a thick waxed cotton jacket, it’s not the thickest waxed jacket
It was very hard to whittle this list down to six, so I’m going to include some honorable mentions. One of them I don’t actually own, but it’s so darn popular that it had to get a mention.
7. Best Denim Jacket: Tanuki’s Amagumo Type 2 Jacket
The denim masters at Tanuki sent me their 15.5oz Amagumo Type II recently and I couldn’t be happier with it.
But for now, I’ll just say that denim jackets are a big deal. There are entire communities of people who collect rare and vintage ones.
Also, much like denim jeans, there’s a huge market for replicated, classic styles. So they say this is a Type II, their saying this jacket is modeled after a classic Levi’s jacket produced for less than a decade between 1953 and 1962. The originals sell for big bucks, there’s a huge collector’s market.
The 15.5oz weight is nice and substantial, very textured and coarse yet very soft. Intended to fade quickly, the indigo warp is paired with a weft that’s dyed with, wait for it, black beans. They produce a dark blue dye that’ll fade to a steely grey with time, and as someone who spent his previous career in nutrition talking non stop about the benefits of legumes — I still eat three cups of lentils a day — I loved this hook.
This fabric is Tanuki’s revered fabric master, Toshi-San’s first original denim.
8. Thickest Waxed Jacket: Ship John Willis
The Ship John Willis is my buddy Troy’s favorite jacket, and it’s become the stuff of legends around the heritage crowd.
This is the heaviest waxed jacket I’ve handled. It’s made from waxed twill — a dense, tear resistant cotton that’s different to canvas in the way it’s woven — you get diagonal patterns running along the surface.
Troy managed to find one to try on, and says of the fit, “I’d say the profile of the jacket is slightly more on the fitted side than something like Filson’s Tin Cloth Jacket, which generally wears more boxy. If you’re like me, and found that your measurements were right on the border of two sizes, consider this: sizing down will give you a bit more slender, trendier fit, whereas sizing up will give you more of a true work jacket vibe and room to layer.”
See our full written review for more details.
[Related: The 7 Best Waxed Jackets for Men]
9. Best Lightweight Jacket: Taylor Stitch Ojai
Perhaps my all time favorite lightweight jacket, this 8oz offering from Taylor Stitch may well be the most popular chore coat on the scene. Great for cool summer evenings and crisp fall afternoons, it stands out in the crowd with its modern fit, huge range of colors and materials, and the wood-colored ring back buttons.
Read the full Ojai review for more.
10. Best Waxed Jacket: Tom Beckbe Tensaw
I actually have two of these jackets and did an entire review of them. For function and aesthetic, it can’t be beat.
Forged by hunting brand Tom Beckbe, it’s first and foremost a hunting jacket, with deep pockets and the kind of arm gussets and tails that allow mobility in the field. Typically, waxed jackets are used for outdoor activities or for wearing out on the town, and this is the only option I’ve seen that does both with aplomb.
Available in an 8-ounce or 6-ounce canvas, it’s light enough to be a protective shell in spring and fall, and roomy enough that you can add another layer or two in colder weather.
I’m certain there’s a favorite fall jacket on this list for just about any guy who’s into durable materials and classic design. We only talked about jackets for fall here — no burly blizzard wear just yet — but these options have carried me throughout many a fall season and I’m always looking forward to the opportunity to wear them again.
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