I travel quite often and now that things have started up again I am looking for a lightweight jacket to wear. I want something that makes me feel more composed than a sweater, but not as tight and dressy as a blazer. It should not wrinkle easily and should have pockets. Does such clothing exist? — Beth, Los Angeles
Not only does such a piece of clothing exist, there is even a special name for it: a shirt! Like many new fashion inventions (megging, jort), this is a hybrid garment (shirt plus jacket) well suited to meet today’s needs.
In particular, it must pass through an air-conditioned airport during the very hot months, not be squashed by being crammed into a tiny chair for many hours, and then emerge ready for public viewing at the other end. Although it works equally well for trips from home to the grocery store for a morning milk run, or from home to the office for a daily commute.
It’s a more sophisticated alternative to a sweatshirt without sacrificing comfort. And it pairs beautifully with sweatpants, leggings, and yoga pants, meaning you can wear stretchy comfort clothing and look a little cooler. It is also a gender-neutral garment, equally popular in both menswear and womenswear.
We emphasize that the bag is actually not a new invention. It has its roots in French workwear of the late 19th century, specifically the bleu de travail, the blue shirt worn by workers to protect their day-to-day clothing. (Another name for this garment is the casual jacket.) It was later adopted by the United States military, which issued CPO jackets to petty officers in the 1930s. From there it found its way into the surplus stores of the army and navy, and thus into all our wardrobes.
Its characteristics are oversized proportions, best worn over a T-shirt, turtleneck, vest, or similar underlayer; large patch pockets; and fastening with snaps or buttons. You can, of course, find military and work wear versions of the jacket, but you can also find options in technical fabric, linen, silk—just about any material and personal aesthetic you can desire.
Zara, for example, offers cropped linen models, as well as models with a wrinkled satin effect and a drawstring at the waist. Everlane has a loose fit cotton jacket with the added benefit of side pockets at the hips as well as patch pockets, just like Madewell.
And if you’re looking for something a little more serious, check out the Kit prints, made to order by Daniel Vosovich, a Runway project participant and CFDA Fashion Incubator alumnus. Put them on and take off.
Your questions about style, answers
Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer questions from readers related to fashion, which you can send to her at any time via Email mail gold Twitter. Questions are edited and shortened.