In fashion, we love to talk about things that are transeasonal. The term suggests items that can be worn between the seasons but, really, what we are saying is that they work at any time except the peaks of heat and cold.
This season, in addition to transeasonal mainstays including the trenchcoat, there is another item that is bound to worm its way into your change room, and possibly your wardrobe. It’s unisex, it’s a great alternative to a heavy coat or denim jacket (yawn). Behold, the “shacket”.
How did we get here? Take a cup of 2020 comfort dressing, add a dose of optimism (and a vaccine) and a dash of “lumber-core” (that is, lumberjack core) and you have a piece of outerwear that’s a step above a house coat, albeit with the comfort of wearing a blanket down the street. If 2021 is all about living hybrid lives, then surely we also need hybrid clothes?
Isn’t this just another “frankenfashion” term? Yes, but bear with me. The shacket takes the looseness and unstructured shape of a shirt, but in a heavier fabric to give the wearer that Goldilocks sensation when a coat is too heavy but an outer layer is required. It’s not a duster coat, nor is it a robe; the shacket is its own species. Shackets have been on the runways of many European designers including GANNI, Loewe and Gabriela Hearst.
I’m seeing a lot of flannel. Yes, plaid is mother-tongue of the shacket. Recently, new mum and model Gigi Hadid was pictured wearing a chambray check style on a coffee run in New York City, while the cover art of Taylor Swift’s Evermore album has strong shacket vibes (although the actual garment in question was a Stella McCartney coat, which sold out almost immediately after the album’s release).
So you’re telling me it’s not all tartan? No, shackets this season come in many fabrications. Leather (including vegan leather) is a friend of the shacket, for its weight. Look for an oversized cut so it can be worn over a crisp white tank in autumn or spring, or a thin woollen turtleneck in winter. Black and camel are the go-to colours. Witchery has also designed a shacket in a powder blue wool, as well as the ubiquitous plaid styles.
I’m a guy. Can I shacket? Of course (and nice use of the verb!), though in the menswear department they are often referred to as “overshirts”. In fact, the trend may have started with guys, says Next.com.au’s Chantelle Binley. “Men have been embracing the shacket trend for the last couple of years, but this year a feminine spin has seen the women shacket category explode in popularity. In the UK, we use the shacket to layer but Aussie weather makes it the perfect add-on for that ‘in-between season’ in autumn,” she says. The key difference between a pedestrian shirt and a man shacket is in the weight, and an overall boxier cut, so that it sits slightly away from the body. And, as with women’s styles, it definitely has no shoulder pads or lining.
OK, I’m convinced. How do I master the look? Gavin Gage, head of design for Witchery, says think of a shacket as an alternative to a trench or a knitted cardigan. “Add over or tuck into denim for a relaxed, transitional look, or dress it up and wear it over leather shorts, knee high boots and a blouse,” he says. Next’s Binley agrees it’s a look that can cover everything from activewear to maxi-dresses. “And it will come in handy when the weather gets cooler as you can chuck a jumper or overshirt underneath without losing your shape under bulky layers.”
Melissa Singer is National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.