The passage of summertime is always bittersweet, but the return of fall also provides a new opportunity to refresh your outerwear. After a few months spent in shorts and tees, we're ready to layer up again even before the first trees have begun to change their color.
While narrowing down our top fall jackets to just five selections proved to be a daunting task, we've ultimately decided to focus on the following outerwear styles:
Each of these outerwear pieces has its own appeal. With these five jackets in your closet, you’ll be prepared for all types of fall weather. From warm days to cold, rainy ones, these jackets and coats will keep you covered:
A jean jacket qualifies as a piece of outerwear—but barely. It's almost closer to a good cotton women’s sweater, albeit one you can wear unbuttoned and open. This is the obvious choice for those delicate weeks between fall and summer when the sun still shines in the afternoon, but a cool chill takes over in the evening. Jean jackets have an incredible range of versatility when it comes to temperature, but they're also remarkably easy to pair with just about anything in your wardrobe. So whether you're wearing a sundress or a pair of shorts and a favorite tee, a jean jacket can be slid over any late-summer or early-summer ensemble for a touch of warmth.
Denim jackets add on-trend style to fall outfits, too. For example, you could slip one over a cashmere turtleneck and midi skirt with boots for a date-night outfit that combines casual and dressy elements. A denim jacket over a sweater dress is another fall outfit idea that you can wear with boots, heels, or flat women’s shoes.
The fleece quarter-zip is ubiquitous for good reason. Like the jean jacket, it's an excellent choice for transitional weather. This is because the fleece quarter-zip is the missing link between sweater and jacket. While we can't precisely define it as either apparel piece, it still serves both roles when you’re in a fashion pinch. If you don’t know whether to go for a jacket or sweater, this piece offers the perfect compromise.
The fleece quarter-zip has the greatest potential to be worn as genuine outerwear during late September beach walks or early-October afternoons, when you can simply pull it over a tee or a blouse to provide a quick layer of warmth. However, when temperatures begin to dip in late October and early November, you can smartly repurpose it as a sweater layer by wearing it under a rain coat or a lightweight down jacket.
Forget April showers—October proves to be just as wet as any spring. For that reason, you don't want the season to start without a reliable rain coat in your rotation.
When it comes to choosing between women’s rain jackets, there are a variety of features to consider. Do you want it to be on the shorter side, or longer? Shorter jackets will have a sportier look and make it easier to step in and out of your car or Uber. On the other hand, a longer jacket will provide more coverage from wind and rain.
Either way, look for a raincoat with a hood to protect your head. A drawcord provides for a snug fit, while pockets let you warm your hands or carry small essentials. With so many raincoat colors and even prints, you’ll find one that complements your wardrobe.
There's a misconception that every down jacket has to be oversized and puffy, ready to be zipped up and worn to hike Mt. Everest. Nonetheless, such heavy-duty jackets are built for a real mid-winter freeze, not the milder chills that mark the autumn season.
That's where lightweight down jackets come in. Like any other down jacket, a lightweight down jacket contains down feathers that trap pockets of warm air, allowing for greater insulation. Conversely, lightweight jackets aren't so powerfully insulating as their heavier-weight cousins, which allow them to be worn from October to November without making you break a sweat.
These down jackets are just as easy to style as any other down jacket. When in doubt, know that it will always layer beautifully over a pair of women’s jeans and a cozy flannel shirt. There are even packable down coats that are lightweight and portable. They fold up into a small rectangle that tucks easily into your tote bag or business backpack.
The barn coat is stylish piece of fall outerwear that you can dress up or down. These quilted jackets fall past the hips for universally flattering coverage, and they come in insulated styles to cut the chill of the coldest fall days. The quilted detailing and button-front of barn coats impart a high-end look to any outfit, whether you’re going for a cottagecore vibe with a tunic and corduroy leggings or dressy with plain-front black dress pants over a dress shirt.
Barn coats also pair well with jeans, and they come in colors ranging from neutral to bright. They’re not just fashionable but practical as well. Wear them with straight-leg jeans and a pair of duck boots to tackle outdoor tasks on cold, wet fall days.
Although these women’s outerwear essentials are different, they all work with most any type of fall wardrobe and come in sizes to fit every body. Accessorize your fall jackets and coats with fashion scarves and hats for a well-coordinated look and extra warmth.