Allow me to set the scene: It's a crisp autumn afternoon. There's a slight breeze in the air and the perpetually wafting scent of pumpkin spice. Your summer sandals and tank tops are packed in storage, and you've begun to call on cold-weather staples, starting with outerwear. Lightweight trench coats, faux fur jackets, oversized blazers—the best fall jackets protect you from the season's slight chill and offer a one-and-done style impact. And while on the topic of outerwear, consider familiarizing yourself with the best winter jackets and coats, too, because once the cold weather hits—and, oh boy, you can count on it hitting hard—you want your collection of cozy wares to be stocked and at the ready.
Moda Operandi's chief merchant, April Hennig, references the late, great street-style photographer Bill Cunningham on the importance of a good jacket. "As [Cunningham] once said, 'fashion is the armor to survive everyday life.' And outerwear truly is the ultimate coat of arms," she describes over email. Hennig adds, too, that this season's offerings are designed with the wearer's best interests in mind. "As we return to our new post-pandemic normal, designers provide an incredible array of investment outerwear intending to dress women so they can return to the world, ultimately living their day-to-day life in these jackets."
Ahead, Hennig, along with two other fashion forecasters, breaks down fall 2023 trends and offers insight on what to think about when hunting for a new fall jacket. You'll also find an edit of our favorite jackets available to shop.
What to Look For in a Fall Jacket
"A fall jacket should be an investment—a piece in your wardrobe that you can wear for the cool months and even years to come," describes Hennig. Thus, she advises you to think critically about how your outerwear can best serve you. "It's important to pick the right material for your home climate and to consider what you don't already have in your closet, be it a leather layering piece, a dressed-up topcoat, or true cold-weather outerwear."
Terrie Isaac, head of creative at BDA London's Trendhub, concurs with the Moda Operandi merchant. "A coat is an investment that needs to be able to deliver from a practical standpoint and be aesthetically relevant. Functionality with style underpins this season," the trend analyst succinctly offers. "And while a statement piece is great," says Isaac, "if your budget doesn't stretch to more than one jacket, keep it simple with a classic, timeless piece for fall."
Deals on Fall Jackets
The Best Fall Jackets
- Best Trench Coat: Everlane The Gathered Draped Trench Coat
- Best Denim Jacket: AGOLDE Martika Denim Jacket
- Best Leather Jacket: All Saints Dalby Leather Biker Jacket
- Best Duster Coat: LOULOU STUDIO Martil Wool and Cashmere-Blend Coat
- Best Bomber Jacket: Ganni Satin Bomber Jacket
Best Trench Coats
"The classic trench for fall is updated with refined details and slight nods to a utility aesthetic this year," details Isaac. "Clean and minimal, almost reworked [trench coats] in versatile tones of neutrals, navy, and black are a must." Lindsey Smecker, the principal trend and marketing director at ESP Trendlab, adds, too, that the best trench coats of the season offer practicality, meaning they go beyond just providing a timeless and sleek look. "An element of functionality is key—think reversible jackets, detachable collars or hoods, waterproof materials, etc.," she says. For instance, a chic rain jacket in a trench silhouette doubles as a weather-resistant option that's a bit more sophisticated than your standard nylon slicker.
Best Denim Jackets
A denim jacket is a wardrobe essential for a reason. Casual with a classic Americana feel—the best women's jean jackets are ideal for fall because they're a lightweight layer with nearly endless styling combinations. A Britney Spears circa 2001-esque Canadian tuxedo moment, anyone? Smecker adds that in terms of specific styles, fall 2023 sees a surplus of lightweight, cropped silhouettes and innovations with design-forward embroidery. "Jean shackets are trending this season, too, and are freshened up with unconventional stitching."
Best Leather Jackets
"We are predicting the structured leather jacket to be a staple this season in an evolution away from the leather blazer to the leather trench," details Smecker. Moda Operandi's Henning agrees: "From hardware-heavy moto jackets with a looser fit to reimagined versions of the staple in cropped cuts with a seductive feel, the leather jacket is officially back for the fall season."
Best Maxi Coats
"In single-breasted or double-breasted iterations, the longline coat is a key style for fall," details Hennig. Specifically shouting out floor-sweeping duster coats, the expert says the style's "clean lines and relaxed silhouette make it an effortless way to finish a look. And with exaggerated proportion play being a trend across categories this season," she says, "it's fitting that jacket lengths have followed."
Smecker echoes Hennigs, saying that "maxi coats are the must-have outerwear of the season. Opt for either "a structured, neutral wool maxi coat for a timeless addition to any wardrobe or a duster coat in a bold color, abstract print, or statement plaid."
Best Bomber Jackets
"The bomber jacket is back in a big way—and there are so many interpretations," Smecker shares. "I particularly love the vintage-inspired bombers in an oversized silhouette. Other options include the sporty varsity bomber and the vegan leather bomber."
Meet the Experts
April Hennig is the Chief Merchant for luxury e-commerce retailer, Moda Operandi. With over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, April’s knowledge of multi-brand retail and brand leadership experience made her uniquely well-suited to join Moda’s Executive Leadership Team. Prior to her appointment at Moda, April served as President of Jonathan Simkhai and the Vice President Divisional Merchandise Manager of Women’s Contemporary at Bergdorf Goodman.
Lindsey Smecker is Principal and CEO of ESP Trendlab, a leading design and consumer trend forecasting agency headquartered in NYC. For over four decades, ESP Trendlab has partnered with trend forecasting and futurist agencies from around the world to represent and curate their services. ESP Trendlab's expertise is trusted by the most influential leadership brands, including Apple, Disney, Nordstrom, Uniqlo, New Balance, Aritzia, Tom Ford Beauty and Pottery Barn. Leading ESP Trendlab's intelligence, Lindsey blends strategic level thinking and cultural zeitgeist with core design aesthetics to ultimately shape products, brands, and the world in which we live.
As Head of Creative at London based agency BDA London overseeing bespoke and their ready to buy commercial trend solution, Trendhub, Terrie combines creativity with strategic vision to create tangible solutions. Terrie delivers trend directions and strategic intel through a bespoke lens, providing 20+ years of forecasting experience while imparting a wealth of knowledge when communicating concepts. She has consulted across a broad range of design markets and at all levels. With a process driven by creativity and strategic thinking, she is always seeking to evolve and stay agile within the business, and the industry as a whole.