The suede overshirt (or shirt-jacket, or shacket)

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I have this image in my mind. Of a man meeting a good friend for brunch on a Sunday morning. A man that dresses as I want to: considered and tasteful, not showy or sloppy. 

He's looking forward to a coffee. He carries a newspaper under his arm in case his friend is late. And he wants to look good, for his friend but also because it feels like it celebrates the day. 

A jacket would be out of place, but it requires some kind of outerwear. So he wears the shirt-jacket above. It’s not smart, but you might say it was sophisticated. Certainly, whether he wears it with a denim shirt and chinos, or a cashmere crewneck and jeans, it looks easy and relaxed.

Perhaps this image recurs to me because we went for months without being able to meet inside cafes. Or perhaps because when I do meet my friends, it's rare that we don’t both have multiple children in tow. Which rather dampens the pleasure of dressing well. 

Whatever my personal frustrations, I also feel this theme is very relevant. As casual and looser clothes have become more prevalent in recent years, I hear from a lot of readers looking for something along these lines. 

I wouldn't wear this shirt-jacket into town. I'd always opt for my beloved tailoring (every chance I get). But I know readers that would. 

Indeed, I remember meeting a menswear contact a couple of years ago in a Mayfair restaurant.

He complained that, when he had met a friend at the same restaurant recently, on a Sunday afternoon, the friend had turned up in sportswear. 

The contact was, as you might expect, smartly dressed in a jacket and tie. "And the annoying thing was," he recalled, "that my friend thought there was nothing strange about this. Indeed, he thought it was funny".

Given the location, day of the week and nature of the meeting, I felt like something in between might have suited both of them better. Like a suede jacket and shirt. 

This one is from Connolly - their Driver Over Shirt in cognac suede - and there are a few reasons I particularly like it among other suede jackets, shackets and shirt/jackets. 

One is that it's cut like a shirt, rather than a chore coat. This is particularly helpful for me, as chore coats are often a little wide and a little short on my frame. This is slimmer and longer. 

I also think it means that the jacket looks smarter than something cut like a chore coat. It's closer to a nice blouson in that regard, like a Valstarino. 

Another thing I appreciate is the colour, which isn't as strong as the tobacco/snuff of similar suede outerwear (Ralph Lauren example here). 

In fact, you can see the difference if you look on the inside of the jacket (above), as the reverse of the skin is precisely that saturated snuff.

The slightly more muted outside is subtler and more versatile. For example, it actually looks good with black trousers or jeans, where few snuff or tobacco suedes do.

I also like the collar, though I didn't at first. It's small and looks like the one-piece collar you get on some summer shirts. 

I thought I'd prefer something longer, more akin to a jacket lapel. But actually, this suits the overall slim style of the overshirt, and it looks good up as well as down.

The only thing I really dislike about the model is the lack of pockets. 

If you want an unlined jacket, then internal pockets are not really possible without showing a seam on the outside. But I would have been willing to sacrifice one for the other, even if it made it less of a shirt. 

Fortunately, I know Cromford can do many clever things with alterations, including lining sleeves if these unlined ones ever begin to irritate me. So I have options. 

Other suede models get around this by making a feature of the stitching. The Drake’s ones, for example, have an internal pocket where you can see the stitching on the outside. But it’s cut and designed as a chore coat, so that works. 

Among other brands, RRL often does lovely suede shirt-jackets. I have a great one in dark-brown suede that was pictured here.

I only realise now that one reason I like that so much is because of its overshirt design, with curved bottom hem like a shirt. That one wasn’t as slim as the Connolly, but I had it altered by Cromford - one reason I know they can do this well. 

RRL have the same model on sale here, but it is now lined, and the suede doesn't feel as nice to me.

The Purple Label ones are more consistently available, and they’re lovely too, but rather thinner. I probably wouldn’t wear one tucked in, but you could if you wanted. They're more of a warm-weather option.

Both are better value than the Tom Ford version, which I have seen and tried. And some others, like Valstar, are cut like a strange halfway house between a trucker jacket and a shirt. 

This last point might seem like a fine distinction, but I think it’s what stops some suede jackets from being a good substitute for tailoring. 

A trucker-jacket style, or indeed a flight jacket, like mine from Himel Bros, is that much more casual than a blouson or a shirt-jacket. Something we covered in more detail on this post on casual paradigms

And at the smarter end of the spectrum, something cut like an actual jacket is a little harder to wear - like this Cifonelli - while a tailored jacket in nubuck is harder still - like this from Melina

I think I made mistakes in both those cases. Not in buying them at all, but in doing so when I didn't have that much else that was less unusual. If you’re trying to fill out this casual/chic part of your wardrobe, I think the best place to start is a suede blouson or shirt-jacket. 

Clothes shown:

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

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Rups

Simon are there are features that you should look out for when looking for a suede shirt? I’ve been looking at vintage examples as well as new. I noticed that on newer ones they often don’t seem to make the shirt with 2 whole pieces of suede, one panel used for the front and one the back, instead using four pieces creating panels. That leaves to my eye at least an unsightly seam running across the navel area. This seems to be the case on the Connolly one above and on RL Purple Label ones neither of which are cheap) Why do you think they do this? Are they cheaping out on using whole sheets of suede? Any other quality features that should be looked for?

P.A.

Hi Simon,

Where would you look for a denim shirt that looks good in a casual look as well as with tailoring ?
Something that looks softer, not necessarily MTM or bespoke.

Thanks

Martin McGrath

Budd offer a very nice MTM denim shirt which should fit the bill.

Ferdinand

Rose & Born sells some (https://roseborn.com/shop/categories/shirts/?collection=permanent-collection, including a “real” Western shirt). Btw., Simon, I remember you once mentioned you weren’t impressed with R&B’s quality, and I don’t think you covered them much despite their style seeming to be very much in line with your recent preference for casually elegant clothes. Was there any particular reason, or did you recently have another look?
I own a suede safari jacket from them that gets me many compliments, probably not the finest quality in the world but it also didn’t cost a fortune.

Ferdinand

Just saw they also sell essentially this overshirt, just darker, and with pockets 🙂 (and for about half the price: https://roseborn.com/shop/outerwear/brown-suede-shirt-jacket/).
I personally don’t really like overshirts, they always look a little sloppy to me. The kind of garment that can look good on a good-looking person, but that in itself won’t elevate anyone’s looks. I think it’s because it doesn’t add any shape to the upper body, but it might just be personal taste.

Martin McGrath

I thought P.A. was asking about a denim shirt which would look good as a casual as well as with tailoring, and which was soft. That’s why I suggested Budd. My denim shirt from them matches all P.A.’s criteria perfectly. Only trying to help.

Martin McGrath

Aha, OK! What threw me was P.A. using the word soft, and not saying garment washed!
Have a good weekend.

P.A.

Thanks for the recommendation Martin.

I am from Paris so Budd shirtmakers is not popular over here, and it’s not possible to try them on.
Maybe I’ll try ordering online if they ever have a sale.

Il Pennacchio

Proper Cloth is currently conducting one of the MTM garment-washed denim shirt events it does a few times a year.

Mike Rowley

I think Martin perhaps has a point; I certainly would not wear any of the Gabucci shirts you refer to with tailoring, but also have the Budd denim which I wear with flannel suits (with a navy knitted tie) and equally with chinos/fine whale cords.
Like the Driver Over Shirt a very lot by the way! Perfect for casual autumn days.

Mike Rowley

Actually it is starting to fade rather appealingly after 4 or 5 washes. I really like the way it is ageing, and think it will only get better. At some point, it may become too faded to wear with tailoring, but for now it is pretty perfect to my eye.

P.A.

Thanks, will have a look.
On an unrelated note, I find that I never get a mail notification when one answers to one of my comments, eventhough I click the bell and subscribe to replies to my comments. Any idea how I could do something about it ?

P.A.

I’m afraid it’s not in the spam either. I don’t know what that could be, I subscribe to comments replies both on the comment and at the top of the comments section, if that makes sense.

P.A.

Thanks Simon.

On an unrelated note, I struggle with the comments section. I already posted this comment earlier on and it got deleted.
I do not receive a mail notification when one answer one of my comments so I have to go back to the articles and their comments section to see if I got an answer, which is kind of annoying.
Do you know how I could fix this issue ? Thanks

P.A.

Simon, I previously had ‘awaiting moderation’ above, only today has it disapperared on this article’s comment section. I posted on an old article (‘if I only had 5 shoes’), and I could see my comment before you published it.
However, never has it worked for me to receive an email when someone responded to a comment of mine.

I’m ticking the alert box ‘Notify of new replies to this comment’ next to ‘Post comment’ (the little bell). Also, I’ve tried to subscribe at the top of the comment section to ‘New replies to my comment’.

Hope that helps

David

Kamakura, the Japanese shirt company, has a denim button down collar that is quite light in terms of fabric weight. I bought it two years ago, works v well with casual / tailoring / sports jacket crossover. I got it in a New York shop that I think has since closed.

Dean

Wow, what terrible images on the Connoly website. It baffles me how brands still manage to get these type of images so wrong. Theres no excuse for it.
Nice shirt but very pricey. I struggle to see the value for money on this one so its not something of real interest to me. ‘Casual Chic’ can be achieved on a dime, its more to do with the style and charisma of the individual rather than the price or supposed quality of the clothing. If you have it you dont need to spend £1800 – if you dont have it an £1800 shirt isnt going to change anything.

Dean

That may well be the case but that dosent mean its good value. Do you know what mark up connolly apply?

BB

Hey Simon, hope you’re well. Couldn’t help but jump in here. Hope I won’t be told off! Can you kindly do an in depth feature on why certain brands (don’t want to name names, but think I should – Thom Browne and Tom Ford, yes, the two Toms) apply such a high mark-up on their products and others just above average.
I am aware you’ve always painstakingly explained the reason(s) in the past, via comments as you’ve done again above for the umpteenth time. But I feel a piece on its own could explore the topic in a more detailed fashion. I do not know if it is a male thing, but I do balk at prices that I think (rightly or wrongly) are too expensive (Alden). Most of the time, I can’t explain why I feel that way.
Women don’t seem to have this dilemma. Why?

Stephen

BB, I agree. It rankles me sometimes as well. I think maybe an aversion to a perception we are being taken for fools. Not necessarily a male thing though. Ultimately my view is if you feel something is worth it to you and you can afford it, fine, but not if you feel someone is taking advantage of you.

Jeremy

I’m with Dean on this one. Of course, if money is virtually no object, why not? It is indeed a beautiful-looking object. But I can’t see this is all that versatile item, or one you can wear too often as the combination of material and colour are so distinct (unless you want to be known as ‘the guy with the brown suede jacket’), and also have associations with a kind of flashy Mediterranean style. For the kind of occasion you mention, I think a navy wool overshirt or a nicely aged soft black leather jacket would probably suit the bill just as well or even better. At the price this is, I’d be constantly terrified of spilling something on it, and perhaps partly as a result of that the impression in the photos here is a little too ‘neat’ for me, like an ironed t-shirt or a schoolboy with properly brushed hair. The idea of such a jacket is a laissez-fair kind of cool, and that’s a tough one to pull off with this sort of cost involved. One can admire a beautiful object without wishing to own it, or thinking that owning it would fit one’s lifestyle.

Jeremy

Thanks, Simon. I wasn’t thinking so much about it being suede – I have been interested to see your views on how it’s misunderstood in regard to wear and care – just that anything at that price, let alone a shirt, would terrify me in daily wear. Good point about the leather jacket – I was thinking fondly of a second-hand black blazer-styled one I bought for a tenner as a student and wore for 15 or so years, which was extremely simple, fitted me like a glove, and aged beautifully. I’ve been searching in vain for a replacement and I guess that was in the forefront of my mind!

Aaron

Amusingly (for me, anyway) I was just thinking last night about how the term ‘shacket’ seems to have died and been wholly replaced by overshirt.
The buttons on that one are absolutely gorgeous.

Oggi

I have a couple of unlined suede Valstarinos both with an inside pocket.One of the exterior outer pockets is aligned perfectly with interior one so one set of stitching anchors both pockets and so there is no extra stitching visible.

StuartR

D’Avino do some suede shirts and safaris now which look good. I was going to try one but lost my nerve doing it remotely!!

StuartR

I’m a sucker for his hand sewing unfortunately…..I must have missed the Melina jacket; I think it looks fantastic. Are you happy with it?

Liam

I use a corduroy overshirt from SEH Kelly in a similar way. A very similar colour to your suede option although it is slightly more casual. I also have a PWVC CPO shacket in lovat that performs a similar function. PWVC have a number of shacket and overshirt options for casual and more formal contexts.

LB

Hi Simon,

Do you have any further intentions to try Stoffa jackets again, as I know you weren’t a fan of the original suede jacket you tried from there.

Taylor

For me, this is what would be a perfect smarter-casual jacket, and one that I’ll definitely keep in the back of my mind when an opening occurs in the wardrobe! (Especially as an object I had never considered before)
I’m also glad you made comment about children dampening the pleasure of dressing well… about 4 years ago I hit my “perfect” wardrobe. That is, where I feel like I’ve got all my personal bases covered, and if I wanted a new item, it was only allowed to come in after another had left. It was ~85% suiting, and although I looked the polar opposite of my gypsy wife everywhere we went, it was perfect for me.
Now 4 years, 2 children, many vomit stained shirts and torn trousers later, I find myself scrolling through *swallows in shame* Lululemon and Ministry of Supply for machine washable, non iron chinos and shirts haha
I wouldn’t change a thing, but crikey sometimes you just miss the attire of past times (I say at the ripe old age of 27 haha).
Thank you for your continued work and entertainment.
Taylor

Ben

It’s a granular distinction indeed between the suede overshirt and jacket, especially when the former is worn as shown here—loose and unbuttoned. Personally, if I’m to wear something as unbreathable as suede, I’d also want the structure from a jacket. RL also releases a suede belted safari jacket from time to time that I have and enjoy. That Tom Ford piece is ridiculously overpriced.

Peter Hall

I find the casual outer such a conundrum, I often wish it was raining ,just so the problem is solved. As you say, it’s the smart sweet spot which is difficult to hit. I own Harrington’s, chore, trucker and denim jackets, any of which is likely to attract a disapproving glance from my wife if we are edging towards the smarter end of casual.
luckily, after showing her this, she has declared…that’s very nice.
Nice result for Friday!

Ferdinand

Interesting that you didn’t show a full body picture – I don’t think the snuff suede jacket go well with mink suede boots. Wouldn’t light trainers be a more natural choice?

David

Any particular advantage to this over just getting a suede blouson? I’ve never really gotten overshirts. I’ve always preferred a casual light jacket.

Craig

Very nice overshirt. The color is great, and I prefer it to darker, colder browns for jackets and overshirts. The lack of pockets would be a deal breaker for me but that’s a personal thing. I agree with the other poster who said Connolly really should include better photos, and measurements, on their website.

Matt

Hi Simon. It looks like Drake’s has stopped selling that chore coat you have. In general I find Drake’s turnover rate quite alarming. If they have anything good it’s not around very long!

Adam

I know this isn’t the most important point but who carries a newspaper these days? If my friend were late for a meeting I’d probably be reading permanent style on my phone.

Stephen

Hi,
Personally I’d go for a Belstaff (they do various seasonal weights including Suede) or Barbour, these also have other versatile uses.
The image of Sunday brunch made me smile. I think most of us have these images of ourselves. Though not always shared by others.
In my new Gloverall duffel coat (purchased 3 years ago) after a few months I felt like Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea or David Nivan in an old movie. My wife’s comment was I looked like a Corbynist!
I still wear it though!
An old friend of mine in the rag trade once said when a man tries on a new suit he sees James Bond in the mirror!
Thanks for bringing us something lighthearted at the end of the week.

Anonymous

A subtle point, I suppose, but the contrast of your handsome and frankly luxurious Cartier tank with alligator strap and this smart, but casual ensemble/s really takes it to another level. 

Coincidentally, I needed to purchase a new iPhone this week and thought I should perhaps wear a watch so I would know when to return after the data was transferred, which can take a while as we know. I pulled out a gold (filled, I believe) Hamilton tank probably from the mid-forties with an unusual matte pink “gold” dial and an alligator band about the color of yours. 

Like many, I have come to rely on my phone for the time, but it felt great, if not a bit odd, to wear an actual watch, and I thought it looked well with an old navy linen, unlined sport jacket from RL, a light-weight, navy linen cardigan that resembles merino, a mustard/gold pique polo, and a multi-colored, intricate paisley linen pocket square (I still wear them frequently) from Bigi. 

As my sole “luxury” purchase in 2020, I ran into the pocket square online, then it sold out online, and then I sourced it from Milan, and finally ordered it from an haberdashery in the American South (too much pandemic time on my hands clearly, but perseverance, screenshots, and email paid off!). I mention this as I actually subliminally acquired the global sleuthing skills from reading PS, so thank you.

Anyway, appreciate the added inspiration, Simon, to perhaps put some vintage watches I used to enjoy back into service. 

 

Georgios

Thats a great piece and its sure a great design with many thoughts on the making procedure. The problem is the price. For something like that that id use 10 times a year at most id spend 500 euros maximoum. At this price range would you recommend something or should i save for a pricier one ? Many thanx and keep up the good work

Stephen

Hi Georgios, re my comment above. I’d suggest a waxed belstaff which will be approximately in your price range. In my opinion at least if not more versatile. They age well. My Trialmaster is 6 years old or there is Fieldmaster if you prefer without a belt. Of course leather and suede are more expensive.
I would guess that you’d get far more than 10 wears a year from it and it stands up well to the elements!

Alex

Great article Simon, thank you. Would there be an issue with colour transfer from an unlined suede jacket in brown such as the Connolly one? Recall you showed a red one from Drakes in a previous article that perhaps mentioned that as an issue?

rob

no colour transfer with my chocolate brown Drakes chore coat

Neil

Hi Simon,
I love the look and styling of Leather and Suede, However i find they tend to be too cold for cold weather and sweaty if not.
Is this just me? If not do you have suggestions for warmer weather?
Neil

Why are you so weak to censor posts?

You might have censored me but that only adds to my joy of having bought a much better jacket for 250 EUR instead of your 1800 GBP. Why aren’t you strong enough to publish my innocuous post of this morning? Is it because you make your living as an influencer paid for product placement of ridiculous brands like Connolly, Anglo Italian or Adret? If so, how does it feel to be a bigot who claims to be righteous and insists on a clean and objective image?

Stephen

Good reply Simon. This is not the place (if there is indeed such a place) for insults. Always polite and sometimes challenging (well moderated) debates on this blog. Long may it last.

Joel

Hi Simon,
How versatile do you think Stoffa’s asymmetric jacket is in a dark brown suede? Their flight jacket seems smarter in comparison, which I feel may be too smart for jeans and chinos and is better suited with tailored trousers. While the asymmetric style is definitely more of a ‘look’, does the style broaden its range to include smarter chinos (like those from Rubato) and raw, dark jeans before the fades get produced?
Thank you,
Joel

Alan

Hey Simon. I’ve been eyeing this shacket for a while and as always curious what size you ended up going with. Thanks much.

Anthony Hodges

Hi Simon – any tips for matching suede with suede? Something always stops me wearing suede shoes with a suede jacket, and I don’t know what it is.

Phil

This is lovely, thanks. I have a few of the RL purple label suede ‘shirts’’. I wonder what you think they are best worn with. My inclination is to wear them over a linen shirt, but that’s effectively a shirt over a shirt. All the publicity shots show them worn over a polo neck, but that would confine them to particularly cold days only.

Will

On my way to Connolly today – haven’t been in quite a while and very much looking forward to it – I’m holding out for one of their winter coats – I didn’t like last year’s brown wool one so much but am hoping for a return of the herringbone or similar this year.

Simon, also, I hope you don’t mind me asking but did I see you yesterday, downward escalator, Green Park tube at about 16:15 – you were wearing a green linen suit (maybe) and a mask and moving quite quickly so not 100% sure?

If it wasn’t you, then you have a doppelgänger.

Zo

Interest discussion re the costs at Connolly. Some of their products are good – I own a few. But I’ve also come across some cheap-looking stretchy chinos and cargo pants. And cheap looking sweatshirts with big branding on them. What I don’t really get is the image of the brand – I mean, what are they? What would I go to Connolly for? Are they a high end COS? They sell some super expensive products but also some cheap(er) ones which look out of place. Also the to me the styling looks incoherent…like a hodgepodge of Italian Japanese French styles.
Aside, I saw you modelling a green jumper outside the Brioni shop yesterday. Thought I’d shout and say hello! But then I thought it’s best if I leave your poses undisturbed 😉

Craig

Simon,
What colors do you find most useful for these types of garments? I’m torn between navy and taupe.
Navy, admittedly, goes with everything.

Romain

A quick point regarding how Connolly describes this gorgeous piece of clothing. They say it’s inspired by Alain Delon in the movie Plein Soleil. But in fact the suede overshirt in the movie is worn (bare chested, as Connolly correctly says) by the other guy, Maurice Ronet (at the very beginning of the movie)!

Max

Hi Simon,

Very nice casual outfit. I own a Valstarino in dark brown suede (caffe colour). Please, I would like to know your thoughts on wearing it with snuff/tobacco suede shoes? (Opposite combo of what you wear on this post). Other valid option I guess is brown calf.

Thank you in advance

Jan

What a stunning piece, Simon. It’s almost impossible not to look distinguished in this one! I don’t know if you ever watch movies for inspiration, but in the French film “Le Diner De Cons”, a character named Juste Leblanc is wearing a similar suede shirt. The cut is probably more vintage, but the softness and luxury feel is comparable. I’ve always coveted that piece, and about a month ago I stumbled upon a Brunello Cucinelli suede blazer in the same (or very close) color, so I got it. Luckily for me, it’s not one of those modern short blazers from BC, but a nice, long, old-style cut. At any rate, being from continental Europe, I haven’t touched anything Connolly to date. If you have the experience, could you compare their suede quality to that of Cucinelli? Thank you.

Chris K

Simon,
This is the most relevant post I could think of to ask this question (although really it would fit anywhere on the site). I’ve noticed you mention on numerous occasions now, that if you’re headed into town, you will always reach for tailoring first.

It prompts a question I have. I’m assuming that doesn’t always necessarily mean a jacket and trousers (or suit)? I understand it will all be very occasion/situation specific, but I’m assuming when you refer to tailoring, that might sometimes mean one core element of tailoring in an outfit? For instance, denim, a softer jacket and smarter shoes? tailored trousers, a roll neck and a more casual piece of outwear? etc. etc. the list goes on.

Ck