This style of jacket is referred to by many different names in retail. Some call it a safari or military jacket. Others call it a cropped parka or anorak. I know it as a utility jacket. 

We see utility jackets every year, so the style is not new. They are usually in a shade of olive, khaki, grey, navy, black or brown, and sometimes in a non-neutral colour. Utility jackets are generally made of a thick, distressed cotton twill and have quite a bit of pocket and topstitch detailing. Every so often you’ll see them in a washed silk or waxed cotton. They often have a drawstring at the waist or even a tie belt. 

Utility jackets are ideal for casual outfits, and a fab lightweight jacket option for mild Autumn and Winter climates. A little tomboy, a little tough, and quite maximal because of all the design detailing. They are a no-brainer with jeans, denim shorts or ponte pants, biker or cowboy boots, and a tee, simple pullover or plaid shirt. Add a scarf and some arm candy. This is how my clients like to wear their utility jackets in child friendly or very casual settings. 

Pairing a casual utility jacket with dressy pieces is a vibe I like even more. It’s fashion forward and makes for an interesting juxtaposition. So think outside the box by wearing it with fancy heels, sequins, silky blouses, pencil skirts, sheath dresses and bling — much like you would pair a denim jacket with a dressy outfit to dress it down.

As much as I like the look of utility jackets on others, and their cool juxtaposition with dressy pieces, I would still rather wear an iconic faded denim jacket or a moto jacket. Or a streamlined casual blazer sans all the pocket and zipper detailing. This type of safari, military and tomboy styling is not my thing. That said, I would wear the navy cotton belted jacket from Banana Republic from the items below probably because it’s more classic, less casual, and in navy. I look dreadful in khaki and most shades of olive. 

Would you wear a utility jacket? If so, how would you style it? Do you like the idea of wearing a safari jacket with dressier pieces, sequins and bling? Or will you stick to other styles of casual jackets.

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