The Overshirt

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by Andrew Jacobs, photos by Context Clothing

Fortunately for us, the weather in Madison has been kind this winter. As we all know, February’s brutal cold usually coincides with what is quite possibly the most unstylish, unflattering time of the year sartorially. However, the very mild (by Madison standards!) weather has afforded us all the ability to show off our favorite winter garments.

When temperatures rise in the winter, I jump at the opportunity to leave my heavier coats at home and opt for a solid fall jacket. However, because a warm winter day in Madison is still in the high thirties or low forties, layering is essential for keeping warm.

One of my favorite and warmest layering garments this season is an overshirt. To add to the ambiguity, an overshirt is technically not a regular shirt or a light jacket but can be worn as both. Confused? The overshirts I own are all constructed like shirts but are made from heavy wool and are slightly less fitted than my regular shirts. Wearing a properly-sized overshirt is perfect for layering because it accentuates your regular shirt without giving off the hefty appearance of a sweater or cardigan.

Therefore, although tricky, you can still afford two more layers over your base. With four layers, handling forty-degree weather will feel like a breeze (pun intended). Now, you may be concerned about looking like one of those idiots who wears two collar-popped polo shirts at the same time. Don’t be. When you think about it, most light jackets are constructed similarly to shirts; they have button fronts, breast pockets and collars. In other words, overshirts and jackets are designed to be worn over your regular shirt; polos are not.

If you’re not willing to spend the money on a new overshirt, local second-hand stores like June 3rd and Good Style Shop are a great place to find an array of vintage overshirts. I believe most people who shop there don’t know what to do with such a thick shirt, which is why no one seems to buy them. Oh well, more for you and me.

photo by Context Clothing
photo by Context Clothing
photo by Context Clothing

One Reply to “The Overshirt”

  1. Interesting points, I’ve just bought an Engineered Garments overshirt on ebay. Not the thickest of wool but still plaid all the same. I bought it in large where I’m medium build in most shirts as it was a really good price. It’s a little boxy but is this the right why/size to wear it say over a medium shirt and sweatshirt? Thanks.

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