I’m thinking about a staple jacket and how it becomes itself. The piece de resistance of many a wardrobe, the fronting piece, your outermost layer; I wonder, how do you realize a jacket for it’s potential to define you? I’ve laboured myself over this question for years (seriously).
An assortment of thoughts on the philosophy of staple Jacket, as narrowed down into 8 categories: Leather, Printed, Corduroy, Fur, Suede, Winter Puffer, Blazer, and Denim.
It started in high school, when It became ever so relevant that clothing had the ability to define my personality. I’m melodramatic as it is, and at the time, (15) was wreaked by irregular and fluctuating hormones, so I was particularly stressed out by the notion of deciding on one look. Why just one, you ask? I might preface, as I’ve written about before in my exploration of personal style—when this journey began for me I was certain that style required consistency first and foremost. To me, that implied a uniform wardrobe.
Maybe because I was jealous of my best friend at the time— an olive toned, long haired brunette with a pretty smile and bubbly personality, who read Lauren Conrad and always showed up to school wearing a similar clean cut, feminine, but ultimately stylish outfit. Consistency seemed effortless to her, whereas I was confronted anew each day with the predicament of putting together a flattering ensemble. None of my clothes ever seemed to compliment each other.
The solution I developed was to begin sourcing all of my clothes from the same store, so as to ensure consistency. Earlier in high school it was Aritzia, as adorned by all the pretty girls, and later it became Free People, which I felt better represented my aesthetic interests but was too expensive and sometimes too flamboyant for my level of confidence (flare jeans, oversized sweaters, maximalist bohemian decals).
One of the reason’s the staple jacket seems so crucial to my creation of personal style is because layering is the most efficient way to turn individual pieces of clothing into a full outfit. Sometimes it’s the star of your look, other times it’s the cherry on top, or else an extra flavour. For those effects to be determined, some considerations arise—
What colour is the jacket; what material? How does it fit you; where does it cut/ peak/flare? How does it make you feel? Is it warm/ functional; versatile? How often do you reach for it on a day to day basis? How many different ways can you style it? Does this jacket say, “YOU”?
My first go to jacket did end up being Free People, a vegan leather moto jacket with detachable hood which I purchased from a sale rack at the Bay, $200 of my limited high school funds. I was in love with it, and continued to wear it well into university despite the faux black leather fading dramatically at the elbows. What made this jacket a staple for me was a combination of the material (though imitation), the style (which said ‘laid back’, but ‘edgy’) and the fact that it paired well with everything. To this day, I favour these attributes in clothing.
I didn’t have another true staple jacket until the 2018 era. I was newly living on Queen west after moving off campus, and was exploring my personal style more comfortably. When I saw the long velvet leopard print jacket (pictured below) at Public Butter on Queen. West, I was struck by the iconic nature of it as a single piece; it needed no assistance.
And I was no less warmed by the gleeful nostalgia of putting it on, since I remembered distinctly asking for a fur leopard print jacket for my 8th birthday and receiving a black one instead. I liked first, the classic print, and second, that the velvet material weighed the jacket downward so that it slunk sensually around my body rather than appearing to fit too large.
I later had this jacket tailored to waist length with the extra material converted into a matching bucket hat, because I felt that was more valuable to my wardrobe at the time. Note the consideration of length. While the original jacket was a great stand alone piece, it is more versatile as a shorter jacket (worn as a cardigan or layered under an outer jacket).
I adopted this beige corduroy jacket (pictured below) while living on Queen West as well, and it continues to be one of the most reached for pieces in my collection. This was a lucky value village find, spawned from many thrift hunts. It’s lightweight, and fits with a comfortable amount of room. The beige tone ensures that it matches everything, and the corduroy creates a subtle texture contrast that says ‘cool’ and ‘thoughtful’.
I had a best friend in my first year of university who had a boogie, bad bitch clothing aesthetic, and had about five different faux fur jackets— one in white, one spotted, one black and a couple of teddys. Needless to say, she was my original fur inspiration. What I learned from her is that fur is a jacket genre that can do you no wrong. Fur is lavish, immediately fashionable, can elevate an understated outfit immensely, and will keep you warm in colder seasons.
Choosing fur that suits you can be complicated only because there’s so many different styles. Textures vary (soft, fuzzy, long), and styles originate from all decades! (luxury furs of the 1920’s-60’s, bohemian furs of the 70s, Hollywood glam, 80s rock, 90s punk…) and oh, all the colour options!
As you can see, I opted for a bold and glamorous green.
I was gifted the green fur jacket pictured above from Final Touch Vintage on Bloor. St for my 21st birthday, and it suited me perfectly. The colour is loud, but balanced IMO by the waist length cut. I wish that I’d held onto it but I lost the courage and found myself intimidated by the colour eventually. However, I’m comforted by the knowledge that it’s in good hands. I ended up selling it on Facebook Marketplace to a Toronto writer I follow, @elizabethpolanco, who often models for the vintage shop Mama Loves You Vintage on Queen. St. She is another fur inspo queen, shown below sporting a classic vintage style.
Meet one of the loves of my life, a jacket that when I first saw it I thought “this is it, this is my dream jacket”. I bought it in the fall of 2019, again from Final Touch Vintage on Bloor st. I had seen it once prior while browsing and decided to hold off because of the price. When I returned it had been reduced to %50 off (a true sign that it was meant to be) but I was struck by panic when I realized that the girl my recent ex had been cheating on me with for a year was in the store. Fortunately, the ownership of this jacket was so important to me that I mustered the strength to buy it anyway, rather than making a run for it. This anecdote only makes the jacket more special.
Sentiment aside, I favour this jacket for it’s colour and texture. It’s vintage, chocolate brown suede, with large brown buttons and a sheepskin lining. Bohemian is one of the words I use to describe my personal style so earthy tones and cozy materials are particularly important to me.
This jacket highlights a helpful lesson in my self education of personal style because it pulls on descriptors. I find that identifying words to describe aspects of my style enables me to find pieces that specifically embrace the overall themes I want to display in my wardrobe. The words represented by this jacket are “earthy”, “comfortable”, and “bohemian.”
6. Winter Puffer
As Canadians, we have no choice but to adorn a ridiculously thick winter jacket (or else layer up) in order to endure the snowy season, and as we all know that often means sacrificing fashion for warmth. Such is the truth; I have been on the look out for a perfect winter jacket for years. The jacket pictured below is the closest I came personally: a 1970s/80s reversible dusty pink and mauve puffer with scalloped hem and tie up front from, you guessed it, Mama Loves You Vintage.
I shy away from louder colours, and pink especially, so I unfortunately resorted to selling this one as well. I now regret that, but the recycling of pieces in this manner is part of what helps me figure out how I want to dress/ what really speaks to me. In retrospect, the idea of a bold colour is perfect for the winter. At a time when the cold makes it hard to think about styling your exterior, a bold colour stands confidently alone (and performs even better when accentuated by matching winter accessories).
Here’s one more staple jacket that I think every style geared person should own, in case of occasion or else to where every day. My general considerations for blazers are fit, collar, material, buttons, and colour. Solid colours are a safe bet— black is forever classic, and I love the femininity of beige, or white with the right colour palette. Vintage blazers are often heavier (tweed/ wool/ velvet) but they offer uniqueness to your look. I favour a tight fit for a blazer because it feels more powerful to me, but I would lean towards an intentionally oversized jacket otherwise.
The blazer pictured above, from Mama Loves You Vintage, is my dream blazer. For me, it combines the classy/ professional manner that I hope to elicit wearing a blazer (to an interview or other career related environment), and its form fitting and flattering. The material is corduroy but the print reminds me of tweed, making it feel intelligent and fun in the same instance.
Last but not least, the staple denim jacket. Denim is such a timeless material. As such, denim jackets make perfect hand me downs, and for this reason often come with an air of history. In theme: my first denim staple jacket was vintage Levi’s, mid-wash blue, time shared between my mom (it’s original owner), my younger sister, and myself. At an older age I thrifted my own, an oversized fit to suit my bohemian aesthetic, while my sister favoured a dark blue, fitted piece that was both feminine and preppy. There’s still a lot of variety in the denim genre, but it’s not hard to find a style that comfortably suits you.
And there you have it, my thoughts on the philosophy of the staple jacket as divided into 8 categories (for your reading ease).