The overshirt has gained prominence recently.
It’s a common sight in most collections, whether it take the form of a casual overshirt or a more styled (yet completely unconstructed) safari jacket.
In a workwear sense, they’ve been popular for a long time as outerwear in the form of chore jackets.
Like the ubiquitous French blue chore coats, or the oft-seen duck cloth four pocket (e.g. Carhartt).
A more tailored approach to a winter overshirt is more likely to be seen in more sartorially appropriate fabrics, like woollens or corduroy cottons.
Regardless of the level of dress, there’s a great breadth of stylistic potential for the overshirt style.
A relaxed alternative to something more tailored, and a functional piece, there’s plenty of reason for today’s man to don an overshirt.
As I see this style take hold more and more within the menswear community, it’s led me to think about whether the overshirt could kill the casual sportcoat.
In the summer, having bought a couple of linen overshirts, I’ve noticed myself erring more towards a linen overshirt in favour of a linen sportcoat when the mercury is high.
The total lack of construction, coupled with lack of lining and what is usually a more relaxed cut make for a lighter, more breathable garment.
A sportcoat, on the other hand, tends to wear warmer.
Even with a light construction.
As such, an overshirt is often a considerably more practical choice.
Styled right, like my Drake’s ones, they can dress to what is more or less the same level.
They work nicely with a less formal tie, like a knit.
A more casual cut, like the Prologue one, is less likely to compete with a summer sportcoat for a wardrobe spot.
However, despite the efforts of many menswear brands to sell winter overshirts and shirt jackets, I’m absolutely certain I’ll be returning to tailored jackets for the winter.
I still immensely enjoy the styling of a tailored jacket, and the construction which makes it constricting in the summer, brings warmth in the winter.
I own one flannel safari jacket already, and I do enjoy it as a slightly more casual alternative to a sportcoat.
I don’t see myself looking to add more to my winter wardrobe.
Having answered the question rolling around in my own head, it’s important to consider the original question in a broader sense.
First, to consider whether the casual sportcoat was even alive in a general sense.
It may be well alive within our little menswear world bubble, but very rarely do I come across a normal person who would consider the term ‘casual sportcoat’ to be anything other than an oxymoron.
Instead, most will usually throw on a short jacket, like a trucker, or – you guessed it – an overshirt.
Is the sportcoat dead to them?
It has been elevated in the social sense of formality, though.
The everyday purchaser might wear it to spiff up for a meeting, or an event with a dress code.
And while the overshirt might have become a go to option for casual jacketing in place of a sportcoat, it’ll likely never kill it off completely.
Nor will the casual revolution in general.
Only the extremes of the formality spectrum stand to be truly relegated to anachronism.