This story is part of Image Issue 10, “Clarity,” a lively document of how LA radiates its way. Read the full case here.
Of the great myths associated with Los Angeles (everyone is in show business, we all have Botox, we surf every day), none is as isolated from reality as the long story that you should have outerwear in your closet. do not require. LA may be 72 and sunny more often than not, but we’re not some kind of climate monolith. When it’s cold in West Adams, it’s chilly at Marina Del Rey (and even cooler at the Harmony Gold Screening Room at sunset). My apartment is its own microclimate – all morning absolutely no matter what the weather, which makes walking outside feel like born directly into the sun. We are not made for this. And yet, sometimes we have to endure. We need some kind of outer covering. Speaking of wearing our other clothes. We need a jacket.
If temperatures are changeable and unpredictable, how does one find the right jacket in LA? I’m talking about that jacket you can take from work to the gym to a restaurant; From Burbank to Inglewood to Culver City to CityWalk. Does such a grave exist? There’s a lot to consider: materials, opportunities, fits and of course, the mythical vibe we can’t describe but chase breathlessly for the rest of our natural lives. Speaking of mortality, let’s set the level. Maybe you have some jackets or yours will soon be out of age. Can’t believe I’d wear a fake letterman jacket in my 50s. But when you get it right, the jacket becomes L.A. cheat code. There is no perfect jacket available and ideal for all occasions. Choosing one is probably the biggest challenge.
I began my jacket research journey where so many sartorial escapades ended—with Kanye West. Gap and Yeezy recently did another drop of their now-infamous Round Jacket, an absurdly big puffer jacket variation that comes in sky blue, black, and cherry red. I hit the buy button on this piece shortly after the latest fall announcement. My regrets were almost immediate. Should I have reduced the size? Was the Black One Better for My Dark Winter Wardrobe? Will people blow their car horn at me when I walk down the street?
LA is not a place where strangers compliment or annoy passersby. too much effort. The only experience I experienced while trekking to pick up coffee and shredded cheese at Silver Lake’s new Cafe Bodega Park is a mild sweat. I felt like Method Man with my greasy meat sandwiches and bombastic puffer coat. Another strike against this jacket is that you can’t drive in it; I could barely reach the center console of my car even though my airbag seemed to have deployed by accident. It’s an idiosyncrasy of designing for very special circumstances. Some people don’t think of practicality with fashion. It’s about the silhouette and not the regular, everyday function of a garment. maybe that’s the downside Very rich designing clothes. Someone who’s never had to drive themselves won’t think about the practical concerns of being able to start your car while wearing a jacket.
The right jacket undoubtedly requires less material—you need something lightweight, flexible. Track jackets offer versatility and mobility due to their origins as athleticwear. One of the better options in that sub-genre comes from UK-based superstar artist-designer Grace Wells Bonner. The Wells Bonner Burgundy Fleece Track Jacket—zip-up, snug fit, lots of stripes and emblems—made me want to go run laps at Fairfax High School, like Albert Brooks in the movie “Modern Romance.” It’s a great feeling, but I’m a traditionalist at heart, and it’s too casual to survive a proper dinner. Many of the city’s above-average restaurants naturally demand something a little more sophisticated, such as Blazer, of which I have enough to build a small advertising firm. One of my favorites is from Japanese brand Still by Hand—single-button front, unstructured, in a light gray that Mohawk General Store describes as “umber.” Not amber, which 311 reminded us is “the color of your energy.”
If you’re not nearly as full as me, a blazer is going to feel like a pair of handcuffs. Los Angeles is a casual place. Some of the best outerwear is made by Supreme, the brand that still defines culture on the stretch of Fairfax between Melrose and Beverly. A navy blue Gore-Tex windbreaker from Supreme is waterproof in a way a blazer will never be, so when it’s less likely to rain, you have a way of protection. Problem is, a jacket like this one will run you $348 at Dover Street Market.
A cheaper, more versatile option is the Coach jacket. The nylon exterior is breathable, easy to clean and makes a lot of noise when you move your arms, which helps if you want people to hear you from a block away. A navy blue Palace Coach’s jacket costs a more manageable $168. Comme des Garcons is my perfect variation on Coach’s jacket theme. I recently bought one in black, my favorite color choice for everything up to and including underwear. Black is the perfect base color for someone short of time to make a decision about an outfit. I can grab it from the closet and pair it with anything. It is the ultimate utility player.
Such practicality may not seem like a major concern in Los Angeles, but LA is a city of doers; People who have things to do. However, form is not always related to function. The coach’s jacket, like the track jacket, was designed for a specific athletic purpose. If that purpose is not being met, there may be a cognitive dissonance between the usefulness of the object and the context in which it is being used. Overshirts and core coats, a phenomenon you see all over town, are laborer’s territory. In L.A., the look of a blue-collar worker is an odd fixation for people who don’t make things with their hands. And yet, many choose to invoke the stolen heroism of the working class. If you can spare $1,015 for a heavy, dark brown cashmere piece from Evan Kinori, you can’t stand out for the right reasons.
CDG 100% Polyethylene Trench will make you notice in a different way. If I tell you the price, you might choke, but the striking head-to-toe flower-print shape makes this a truly unique piece that feels amazing and will turn heads everywhere you go. If that’s what you want. Polyethylene isn’t going to keep you warm unless your soul-warming compliment is enough to keep you going.
The perfect jacket should be an everyday piece. The foundation of a wardrobe that works in every environment. The Highland Park IPA is the Illuminati’s favorite jean jacket, free of the core coat’s problematic associations. It’s ubiquitous and has been around for decades precisely because it’s not as fussy as a blazer and isn’t directly associated with an activity like a track jacket or a coach’s jacket. I prefer a good denim when the situation calls for a relaxed, approachable look. But it’s also a little too casual to make it into the evening.
Genuine outerwear Nirvana can only be found in one place — jackets in casual embrace of leather (or faux leather, for vegans). The leather can take you all day long and isn’t too hot for our more temperate winters. Some might say leather is too sexy, too sleek or just very much, These are all true things, but this is Los Angeles. We are a city where sex, sledge and very much in our DNA. To deny those childish tendencies would be to forget why we live here in the first place. Gucci has a leather jacket with its trademark print all over that will make your bank account melt, but this is my personal favorite because it’s also a blazer. The biker jacket from Sweden’s Acne Studios is better suited for moments of the sublime Swedish minority.
But in reality, leather is almost never understood. It draws attention to itself as it draws the eye not with ornamentation or branding but with attitude. The leather jacket is designed practicably, to prevent the motorcycle rider from tearing his body in the event of an accident. But it has managed to surpass function because we love the form. It has the same deceptive contrasts as our city: sensual but rugged; Simple but extraordinary; Soft and hard at once. Whatever you choose to do to get through these 60-degree lows for the next few months, remember not to be embarrassed that you’re shivering with cold when the sun comes out. This is Los Angeles. We are just made different.
And just because not everyone in our city can enjoy these colder months, please take a moment to donate to a nonprofit like the Downtown Women’s Center, which helps our no-nonsense neighbors get outerwear Is. If you’re going to buy one of these jackets, donate an old jacket.