How to wear a jacket (and how not to)

By Kirstin Buick
16 September 2013

Our men’s fashion blogger Guy about Town ventured into shopping malls to took a look at the jackets shoppers were wearing. He writes about how they are getting it right or oh so wrong.

Our men’s fashion blogger Guy about Town ventured into shopping malls to take a look at the jackets shoppers were wearing. He writes about how they are getting it right or oh so wrong.

The modern man grows up with a jacket of some sort, from a school blazer to a “church” jacket to those cute ones which earn toddlers a pinch on the cheek from an elderly aunt who smells of peppermints. Of course the “church” jacket, as it’s known in local parlance, is worn to weddings, funerals, baptisms and formal dances.

Guy about Town must make it clear from the start that this blog isn’t about the formal jacket but the informal jacket. There are loads of labels for different cuts of jackets, but Guy about Town reckons this excess of names is only important for people who work out what to wear according to scientific formulae.  And I hate maths. So let’s just stick to the word “jacket”.

I have one simple rule: The formal jacket is black with one, two or even three buttons. Any other colour is informal. Grey and white jackets can also be formal, but I reckon you should think twice before wearing light-coloured suits to formal occasions, unless you want to look like a mafia boss with poor taste. Guy about Town will be writing about the formal jacket soon. Watch this space.

A few jacket facts every man should know: 

  1.  If it’s a bit too large you’ll look like a faded curtain with sleeves.
  2. If the sleeves are too long, the jacket doesn’t fit. Period.
  3. Feel free to do up one button, but never all three. Only deceased people in coffins have all their buttons done up.

Guy about Town asked a few men to put their jackets on a hanger so we could comment on them. These are all jackets that belong to someone, not still in a store waiting to be sold.


This checked jacket will work perfectly with a simple T-shirt or collared shirt. A light blue or white shirt should do the trick. Even a patterned shirt could work but be careful: the jacket is already eye-catching and you don’t want to look like one of those optical illusions that use stripes, checks and spots to create a picture. Combine this jacket with jeans and comfortable shoes for a fresh look.


Corded velvet never disappoints because its texture alone contributes to an interesting look. The colour of this jacket is serviceable and can be combined with almost any other colour. I recently saw a young man wearing a corded velvet jacket with corded velvet trousers. He looked like a ploughed field because of all the furrows in the material, and was wearing a thick jersey which made me wonder if he enjoyed being chafed by all this rough stuff.  Steer clear of too much texture. Your skin will thank you for it.


A light-coloured jacket (in beige, light grey or even white) should only be worn in daylight. Never wear one in the evening. In the dark, light-coloured jackets reflect light and will make you look like a reflector on the back of an old bakkie. What makes this jacket great is it can be combined with other light-coloured items such as shirts and T-shirts and, for a really cool look, can even be worn with shorts. But under no circumstances wear a look-at-me-red or I’m-frustrated-purple collared shirt with it. There are enough surprises in life and some old lady’s heart may not be able to take the shock when you suddenly appear round a corner.


Guy about Town is showing you this jacket to make you aware of two things. The first is the jacket is badly finished and has no real shape, which immediately gives the impression it’s mass-produced. The collar is untidy and the hem at the bottom curls up like a pie that’s been baked for too long. Although the pencil stripe is not to be sneezed at, this jacket is only going to look good on a shop dummy. The second point is this: under no circumstances buy a jacket marked down by 200 per cent. Guy about Town knows from personal experience a decent jacket may cost you a few rand, but it will make you look good for several seasons. Only dishwashing liquid, packet soup and nappies are good marked down to that degree.


Guy about Town almost had a heart attack when he saw this jacket. Not only is the colour about as practical as a five-year-old in the Bok rugby team, but its shininess is just too much for anyone who doesn’t want to look like a half-sucked boiled sweet. The lapels are stylish and this jacket (in a more agreeable colour) would complement any outfit. Stay away from brightly coloured jackets unless you want to speak at the church bazaar (or want to be spoken about). For the more adventurous among us: a jacket in a bright colour can work if it’s made of non-shiny material. Satin was put out of its misery in the early ’90s and though it recently resurfaced, it disappear again quickly – with good reason.



This is a very interesting jacket. The texture is somewhat rough and the pencil-stripe more prominent. Guy about Town loves the dull blue colour and would advise any young man eager for attention to combine it with dark jeans, comfortable shoes, a T-shirt with an interesting motif  (in reds, blues, black or even white) to create a fresh, modern look. But the interesting lining is terribly busy and doesn’t get any easier on the eye the longer you look at it. This jacket is a real attention-grabber.


This is something out of Uncle Charles’ collection of antique clothing. Guy about Town likes the finish, especially the smaller pocket on the left of the picture. The double stitching on the lapels gives it depth and the bulky, dark-coloured buttons adds character. It would work perfectly with a white T-shirt, dark jeans, a brown belt and shoes.  Just make sure it fits well.

Guy about Town also shares the following useful tips:

  1. Jacket pockets are decorative only – under no circumstances put your wallet or keys in them. People will wonder if you have some sort of growth with your pockets stuffed full of stuff.
  2. Simple rule: if you’re moving around, do up one button. If you’re sitting, undo it.
  3. Under no circumstances put your hands in your jacket pockets – rebellious matric boys do this to look tough.
  4. Only Riaan Cruywagen has a pen in his jacket breast pocket.
  5. When you remove your jacket, place it neatly over the back of a chair or on a hanger. Not crumpled up in a heap. Wear a creased jacket next time you want people to feel sorry for you.

Remember, people are going to judge the book by its cover, even though their mothers have told them they shouldn’t.

Guy about Town and his mate Metro Man blog for YOU about fashion ideas for men who want to look good and fashionable without spending the price of a mansion or look like a strutting peacock. Join in their discussions on Twitter and Facebook 

More from Guy about Town:

Men and trouser issues

Main image: Robert Sheie on Flickr

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