I travel fairly often, and now that things have started up again, I’m looking for a lightweight jacket to wear. I want something that makes me feel more put together than I do in a sweater, but not as uptight and dressy as I would in a blazer. It shouldn’t wrinkle easily and needs to have pockets. Does such a garment even exist? — Beth, Los Angeles
Not only does such a garment exist, there is even a special name for it: a shacket! Like many newly relevant sartorial inventions (the megging, the jort), it is a hybrid garment (shirt plus jacket) well-suited for meeting contemporary needs.
Specifically, it needs to get through an air-conditioned airport during the very hot months, not get crushed by being crammed into a tiny seat for many hours, and then emerge ready for public viewing on the other end. Though it works equally well for travel from home to grocery store for a morning milk run, or home to office for a daily commute.
It is a more sophisticated alternative to the sweatshirt, without sacrificing ease. And it works perfectly well over sweats, leggings and yoga pants, meaning you can have your stretchy comfort clothes and look a little cooler, too. It’s also a gender-neutral garment, equally popular in both men’s and women’s wear.
Pointedly, the shacket is not, actually, a new invention. It has its roots in late 19th-century French workwear, specifically the bleu de travail, a blue shirtjacket worn by laborers to protect their day clothes. (Another name for the garment is the chore coat.) Later, it was adopted by the United States military, which issued C.P.O. jackets to chief petty officers in the 1930s. From there, it made its way to Army-Navy surplus stores and thus into all of our wardrobes.
Its characteristics are oversize proportions, the better to be worn atop a T-shirt, turtleneck, vest or similar bottom layer; large patch pockets; and snaps or button closures. You can, of course, find military and workwear versions of the shacket, but you can also find iterations in technical fabric, linen, silk — almost any material and personal aesthetic you might desire.