Yes, the passage of summertime is always bittersweet, but the return of fall also means a fresh chance 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 four selections was a daunting task, we've ultimately decided to focus on jean jackets, fleece quarter zips, rain coats and the classic lightweight down jacket. Read the full list below to discover our top four fall jackets for women.
A jean jacket qualifies as a piece of outerwear—but barely. It's almost closer to a good cotton 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. Think of a jean jacket as being the go-to choice for the shoulder season.
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. 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.
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. It can't precisely be defined as either, but is able to serve either role in a pinch.
Its potential to be worn as genuine outerwear is greatest during late September beach walks or early-October afternoons, when you can simply pull a fleece quarter zip over a tee or a blouse to provide a quick layer of warmth. But when temperatures begin to dip in late October and early November, it can be smartly repurposed as a sweater layer by wearing under a rain coat or a lightweight down jacket.
Forget April showers—October can prove 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 selecting a raincoat, there are a variety of features to take into account. Do you want it to be on the shorter side, or longer? Shorter jackets will have a more "sporty" look, and will 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 rainfall. Whether you think you are more likely to be driving through rain or walking through it will likely play a role in this decision.
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. But 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 will use down feathers to trap pockets of warm air, allowing for greater insulation. But 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.
But a lightweight down jacket is just as easy to style as any other down jacket. When in doubt, know that it will always layer over a pair of jeans and a cozy flannel shirt.