Ever since the first time you slipped on some unexpected black ice or risked a serious case of frost bite this temperamental winter, you’ve been mentally counting down the days until it’s appropriate to forgo the chunky, insulating attire and opt for garments that are lighter, breezier, and built for spring. With a new season just around the corner — seriously, the first day of spring is March 20 — it’s time to turn those sartorial dreams into a reality. But while you may have your chinos, chambray shirts, and luxe sneakers all ready, finding a jacket for this transitional time can be bit of a doozy. Sure, you won’t be needing your Michelin-style puffer for another eight months; however, spring always comes with a slight chill that makes an extra layer necessary. And, with tax season quickly approaching, we wouldn’t blame you if you’re feeling the pressure to watch your spending habits. Luckily, we’ve scoured the market for the best of both worlds: stylish light jackets that are all under $300. As always, dear reader, you are so welcome.
1. A quilted bomber
Since the days of movie star-turned-eternal style icon James Dean, bomber jackets have always been in style. And for spring, they are totally necessary. Regardless of the material, this sporty style will instantly elevate a simple T-shirt and jeans. But what’s a guy to do if he’s looking for a way to spruce up this popular silhouette? Opt for a quilted iteration, like this blue one from Brooks Brothers. This cotton-polyester blend will keep you cozy in the midst of a chilly spring, and the quilted detailing offers a little something extra to your already cool ensemble.
2. A sporty rain slicker
They say that April showers bring May flowers, so you’ll definitely be needing a sporty raincoat to conquer that series of downpours. Not only will this weather-resistant pick from IZOD keep you warm and dry during a springtime sprinkle, it’ll give a boyish, Americana twist to a simple lightweight sweater and jeans. Plus, with three closure pockets and a hood that has a fun pop of color, this pick is equal parts stylish and practical.
3. A second-layer shirt jacket
When it’s too warm to wear a full-fledged jacket, but you want an extra layer in case the temperature drops, invest in a shirt jacket. Mocking the shape of your trusty dress shirt, this genre of jackets is lightweight and acts as an awesome layering piece. While there are a plethora of shirt jackets to choose from, we particularly like this canvas version from McQ Alexander McQueen because it offers a slick, modern twist to a traditional shape. And, when paired with a chambray top and khaki pants, you’ll definitely be the best dressed guy of the season.
4. A traditional trench
Think of trench as a male-equivalent to the little black dress: It’s timeless, can be dressed up or down, and be styled with virtually anything. Though the trench coat has the reputation of being only appropriate for the rain — we can thank classics like Singin’ in the Rain and Breakfast at Tiffany’s for that — this choice is fashion-forward rain or shine. While this option can be a lighter alternative to a dressy overcoat, it can also look hip with jeans and leather sneakers. When finding your own trench coat, however, we recommend that you select one in a classic tan hue, like this affordable piece from Banana Republic. Sure, that crimson red coat may be cool, but the loud color puts an expiration date on an investment piece.
5. An outdoorsy field jacket
You may have had a bout of cabin fever all winter long; however, the need to go outside doesn’t fully hit until you see flowers sprouting from the snow-free. And when a particularly nice day that’s meant to be spent outdoors rolls around, wear a field jacket. Don’t be fooled by the inherent outdoorsy character of this jacket: It will also work for city dwellers, too. And, as an added bonus, the earthy hues and lightweight nature of the field jacket will make this a year-round necessity. With ample pocket space for all your springtime essentials — think smartphone, wallet, sunglasses, and more — this water-resistant option from Target is a must for any adventure you may take. And the price ($44.99) doesn’t hurt either.
6. A punchy patterned topper
Let’s not forget that spring is all about having fun with your outfits, not concerning yourself with how many layers you should sport. So why stick with a stodgy solid when you can spice up your look with a zesty print? If you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans of camouflage. Not only is it an “of the moment” pattern, but camo creates a bold statement without being too abrasive. For camo rookies, start your collections with a more classic color scheme. This one from 6PM , for example, even comes with a detachable hoodie. But, if you already own loads of camo (guilty) and are hoping to bring something new to your closet, the above option from Topman marries a traditional silhouette with unconventional coloring.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs