holy grail quest: the perfect summer jacket

I meant to write about nail polish today. But honestly, the little shopaholic hamster running rampant in my brain just can’t focus, because it’s hellbent on tracking down the perfect summer jacket.

You know the one I mean. You can throw it on over a tired tank and jeans, and look instantly pulled-together (yet not dressy), or tote it along to a summer barbecue, secure in the knowledge that when the sun sets, you can toss it on over your skimpy sundress and everyone will be amazed and bewildered by how effortlessly cool you look. The one that goes with everything, looks like you’ve owned forever (way before it was cool), and makes other people stop you in the streets to ask where you found such a treasure. At which point, you’ll give them a sweetly benevolent half-smile and mutter something about an adorable little boutique in Paris.

Am I aiming too high?

To be honest, I haven’t found my holy grail yet. But I can tell you this: I’ll be like a dog who’s lost its bone somewhere in the backyard (digging, digging…ah, simile.) until I find the winner. In the meantime, let’s look at some contenders, shall we?

Leather is the ultimate, of course. The French call it “le perfecto” – which tells you both how utterly perfect it is, and how unattainably hard it is to find your match. Nothing too heavy, with a cut that still gives you shape when left open (really, who’s zipping up their summer jacket?). I’ve tried on no less than 572 of these so far this summer, with no luck. But I’m quite smitten with several options from Muubaa – I love that they have some shape, and aren’t too young. I also love that they’re all on sale. Dying to track them down on a rack somewhere and give them a test drive. Muubaa picks, via shopping's my cardio

Vanessa Bruno also has a pretty wonderful suede version that just oozes that effortless cool thing I’m after. And hey, when else in life but summer can you justify a suede jacket?

Vanessa Bruno suede

If leather’s not your thing, but you still love a good moto, how extraordinarily good is this one from the Barbour/Temperley London collaboration? Granted, the quilting isn’t perfect for a summer-grade solution, but I think it could work for 75% of those summer jacket duties, and it will be indispensable come fall.


Jackets with contrasting sleeves – particularly leather – are a big deal right now. And I adore the look. My only qualm is its longevity. Really, how much longer can this trend stick around? And how impossibly dated will it look once it’s gone? But I tend to be a Debbie Downer about these things…perhaps it’s best to just embrace it while it’s here. These two from Helmut Lang and Vanessa Bruno are edgy enough to eek another season or two of life out of the trend – the fact that they’re tonal and made of more interesting fabrics than just the standard cotton/leather blend really helps. Contrast-sleeve jackets, via shopping's my cardio

And then there’s the military option. They’re so ubiquitous now, it’s hard to find something that makes my heart sing. Cut is key here – again, you want shape, and not too much bulk. You can go with something simple, but I sort of love this extreme version from Sachin & Babi. It makes me think of those utterly, unbelievably perfect thrift store finds that certain girls end up with, and of which I am eternally jealous.


If you just can’t choose, you can combine the military/moto/colorblocked trends and get this übertrend extravaganza from Zara. Talk about covering your bases.

Zara jacket

Baseball & bomber jackets are also having a moment. I’m not sure I’m ready to relive the ’80s in all their satiny glory – my hair is still recovering from all those bad perms – but I do love this version from J.Crew. The bouclé knit makes it just a teensy bit dressier and more sophisticated than most styles, but it’s as comfy as a hoodie (having tried it on, I can attest). It’s maybe lacking that international jetsetter je ne sais quoi I’m after, but it’s mighty wearable – and a bargain.

 J.Crew colorblock boucle jacket

 Phew. It feels good to get that off my chest, friends. But tell me, have you seen any summer jackets you love this season? I’m dying over here, people…I need options!

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4 comments on “holy grail quest: the perfect summer jacket

  1. Daisy

    I love the military look for summer, I feel that black leather might be too harsh, but maybe a tan leather would work.

  2. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    Daisy, I know what you mean – black is a tough one for summer. But I kind of like the edge it gives all of those pastels & florals! And I agree – military is such a classic!

  3. Jamie

    I am blaming my most recent purchase on you and this post. I had never considered this style of jacket, but found myself in Calvin Klein on Friday, saw one, tried it on and had to have it, thanks much

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