Utilitarian Style - une femme d'un certain âge

Utilitarian Style

white jeans, winter white

While it’s warm here today, last week it was cold enough to be similarly bundled up.

If you live in a climate where Spring lasts more than a weekend, you may find yourself intermittently reaching for a lightweight jacket (or a raincoat) over the next several weeks as temperatures fluctuate and weather is capricious. I’ve been wearing my Sandro utility jacket purchased in last year in London frequently, and am planning to bring it along as one of my outerwear pieces on our upcoming trip to France. The great thing about this jacket is that it works equally well as a rain/wind barrier over warm sweaters or as a lightweight layer over a tee when the fog rolls in.

Whether you call them field jackets, utility jackets, military jackets or anoraks, the versatility of this style explains their popularity. Wear over a button-front shirt and trousers or a dress to “de-formalize” the look, over a sundress, or entirely casually with a jeans or shorts and tee. Many current styles offer a bit of adjustable cinching at the waist which feminizes the look somewhat. I like olive versions for the versatility of that color: it plays the neutral when worn with brighter colors or prints, or adds a subtle touch of color with other neutrals. But if you have trouble wearing olive or don’t like it, jackets in navy, stone, beige, red and even coral can be found. Utility jackets are available in styles from polished to distressed, and in all price ranges. Be aware that unless waxed, 100% cotton will not be water resistant…if that’s what you need look for waxed cotton, polyester or nylon versions.

Do you have a version of the utility jacket in your wardrobe? How do you wear it?


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  1. plutrell
    April 7, 2014 / 3:28 am

    Love how you paired it with white! It was 45 degrees this morning and in San Antonio that is unusual for April… I know it will heat up very soon, so I am not complaining one bit. I like how you styled this!

  2. Linda
    April 7, 2014 / 4:18 am

    I have a navy J. Crew utility jacket which gets a lot of use. I love how you paired your jacked with the white jeans and booties. I’m definitely going to copy your look with my navy jacket and white jeans! (It’s still too cold in Maryland to wear the jacket in the morning. Spring, come soon!)

  3. Debra
    April 7, 2014 / 5:02 am

    I love the array of jackets you provided at the end of your post; very nice choices, I want them all!

    I have the J. Crew olive green field jacket. It’s one of my favorite pieces: I find that the shiny gold buttons and zipper tend to dress up even the most casual of outfits (jeans, sweater, etc.) that I pair it up with. Between that jacket and my short khaki and navy trenches I feel that I’ve got my casual/work coat need covered. Also, thanks for the idea, we’re headed to France/Switzerland/Italy in early June and I’m doing a navy/beige wardrobe with some olive thrown in; I think I’ll bring my field jacket along as it is easy to pack and will add nice pizazz.

  4. Mary
    April 7, 2014 / 5:19 am

    I have it in navy from Burberry. It’s at least 25 years old and still going strong!

  5. April 7, 2014 / 6:40 am

    I love field jackets and have several in different weights. They really work in So. Cal. year round. I even have a waxed cotton one for slightly rainy days, although haven’t really needed that this year unfortunately. I love coats, but in reality, it’s hard to wear a longer coat in LA – so much in and out of the car, and the climate doesn’t really call for it. You’ve shown some great picks for anyone looking.

  6. pink azalea
    April 7, 2014 / 7:15 am

    I like the look and wanted one (I like your phrase) to “de-formalize” my dark gray wool slacks and to add a third piece to white jeans and a t. Since I live in a warm climate, I went with a vest instead of a jacket (Ambition military vest at Nordstrom). I looked at the Michael Kors jacket which was a nice weight, but decided against because I thought I would wear the vest more and I didn’t like the logo on all the buttons. Love your jacket because the design seems classic and not something that will soon appear dated.

  7. April 7, 2014 / 7:18 am

    I don’t own a utility jacket of any type! Big hole in my wardrobe? Must be. I’ll have a peek at your options. Yours looks terrific. Great neutral.

  8. April 7, 2014 / 7:37 am

    I do not own anything like your jacket. I have a black coat which is fun and dressy as it has a flared sleeve and flouncy bottom…hard to describe or imagine but I could use another option…perhaps I will take the plunge as you make a great pitch for owning one for Spring weather.

  9. April 7, 2014 / 7:47 am

    Love the field jacket. I have an olive green one I where as often as possible. As a woman with more bumps and curves than I had in my earlier years, I love the structure of the jacket. Camouflages a multitude of sins…

  10. April 7, 2014 / 10:20 am

    I think they are the new moto jacket:). To be worn anywhere. I’m having trouble right now because I’d like a long cotton one in blue:). Am even thinking of over-dyeing one. It does look great with your column of white.

  11. April 7, 2014 / 10:35 am

    Our weather is always capricious so I am not surprised the jacket is from the UK. We live in such garments most of the year.

  12. April 7, 2014 / 11:38 am

    Certainly on the “wet coast” of Canada a version of the utility jacket is essential. You have shown so many different options. I like your with the white pants.

  13. Jill Ann
    April 7, 2014 / 2:51 pm

    I was coveting Barbour jackets while in the UK last fall, but didn’t buy. Admit to being a bit confused about the waxed cotton fabric; do not wash, do not dry clean? Can somebody explain to me how to handle this, since it’s quite likely I’ll buy one next time I’m there.

    • une femme
      April 7, 2014 / 5:26 pm

      Jill Ann, according to the Orvis.com website (which sells a few styles of Barbour jackets) instructions are to “sponge clean.”

  14. April 7, 2014 / 3:47 pm

    I found myself purchasing not one, but two utility jackets for a trip to Europe this month: one, a hooded, waterproof, fits-in-its-own pocket jacket (Penny’s), the second, a dressier beauty (navy, from Travel Smith) with two huge interior pockets. Hope to ditch my purse as often as possible.

  15. rose ag
    April 7, 2014 / 5:50 pm

    Husband bought something similar for a trip to the UK.
    It’s his Inspector Lindley jacket.

  16. April 7, 2014 / 8:03 pm

    i have some of this style of jacket and they do look great with jeans. I love yours with the white! you are inspiring me to buy some white jeans.

    blue hue wonderland

  17. Wendy
    April 8, 2014 / 2:56 am

    With the UK climate & two dogs to walk I seem to have built up quite a collection of these jackets & it’s nice to think I am now a stylish dog walker . I do like yours though , French if I remember rightly ?

  18. Nicole
    April 8, 2014 / 5:45 am

    The closest I have to one of these is a pretty yellow version with a hidden hood in the collar and elastic for cinching the waist. I don’t know if it qualifies as a utility jacket. I must confess that it did not see much wear in the northeast; it wasn’t a go-to for chilly spring days as it is unlined. Maybe it will see more use in CA. I like the look of what you’ve shown, although one would “click” for me only if I added feminine touches like a scarf and bangles. I feel best dressed with a definite, feminine statement and these seem more gender neutral to me.

  19. Nuts4dogs
    April 8, 2014 / 8:05 am

    There was an interesting post on Fifty not Frumpy recently concerning hosiery/tights. It showed Duchess Catherine wearing hose with gel padding/non-slip things in the sole. I thought it was a terribly clever idea. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a North American company that has caught on with the idea and the 2 British brands had exorbitant shipping costs. The hose were only a 7 denier which won’t last very long but they had a lovely sheen and the gel pads. If anyone on this side of the pond sees them let us know. Even though I live in a cold winter climate, other then slipping on a pair of socks with boots I go no hose unless with a dress/skirt. I find my feet slip with any type of hosiery. Everyone is right, they need to iron out the kinks in those ped things. Even though I’m past my mid 50’s I can’t give up my stilettos!

  20. April 9, 2014 / 7:56 am

    I am a true coat/jacket collector and I have more than a few utility jackets in my closet. It’s a staple item that has great versatility. Love how you’ve styled yours and the color is right on point.

  21. April 13, 2014 / 4:56 am

    I have a Barbour jacket that is a few years old now in Navy. I’d really like something in gray or taupe. They are such versatile pieces. The trick for me always seems to be finding one that is long enough.

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