Fall is my favorite season for many reasons: the picturesque changing leaves, football every weekend, comfort foods and autumnal cocktails, and the parade of holidays from Halloween through Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas season.
The increasing chill in the air also makes autumn my favorite sartorial season, as we layer coats over sweaters with our boots crunching over fallen leaves, the weather still just right to consider form over function… or find the perfect balance of both.
This year, I wanted to look at a few fall fashion essentials inspired by movies and TV to get you in the autumnal mood. I forced myself to limit my finds to ten top garments that I wear and appreciate most from October through December:
- MA-1 bomber jacket
- Fleece-lined denim trucker jacket
- Army-style field jacket
- Plaid flannel work jacket
- Pre-WWII leather flight jacket
- Light brown corduroy suit
- Blue denim Western-style snap shirts
- Colorful plaid flannel shirts
- Navy shawl-collar cardigan
- Army-inspired OG-107 utility pants
My goal for each piece was to capture a range of at least five or six options for every budget, aiming for the ideal balance of affordability and quality.
Check out these finds below!
The MA-1 Bomber Jacket
As worn by Steve McQueen in The Hunter (read more!) and Kevin Costner in Bull Durham
Developed for military pilots flying at higher altitudes than its leather-shell predecessors, the nylon MA-1 can be just as effective for civilians on land. In fact, I’d recommend this versatile bomber jacket as the one piece of outerwear every man should have: rainproof without looking like a parka and climate-adaptable simply by zipping or unzipping, there are few situations where having an MA-1 wouldn’t benefit its wearer, and there’s a reason the original manufacturer Alpha Industries has continued producing them more than 70 years after they first took to the skies.
As the bomber jacket became a favorite of civilians, fashion houses began making their own knitted-collar bomber jackets and successfully experimenting with alternative fabrics like brown suede, a look rocked on screen by protagonists as wide-ranging as Bruce Willis’ badass Butch in Pulp Fiction… and Jerry Seinfeld.
The essential details: Mil-spec olive green nylon shell, zip-up front, ribbed-knit collar and cuffs, hand pockets, and left-sleeve pocket (plus, that bright orange emergency lining for a touch of authenticity!)
- Alpha Industries MA-1 Bomber Jacket in sage-green nylon ($160, Alpha Industries, Amazon, & FarFetch) →→→
- Abercrombie & Fitch Relaxed Bomber Jacket in olive-green nylon ($120, A&F)
- ASOS Design Midweight Padded Bomber Jacket in khaki polyester ($50, ASOS)
- Calvin Klein Bomber Flight Jacket in olive nylon ($195, Macy’s)
- Jack & Jones Rush Bomber Jacket in olive polyester ($53.70, Macy’s)
- Jack & Jones Zip-through Bomber Jacket in khaki polyester ($54, ASOS)
- Levi’s MA-1 Flight Jacket in olive nylon ($79.99, Zappos)
- NOIZE Full-zip Bomber Jacket in moss polyester ($54.99, Saks Off Fifth)
- Old Navy Water-Resistant Bomber Jacket in heritage-green polyester ($59.99, Old Navy)
- Polo Ralph Lauren Twill Bomber Jacket in olive nylon ($224.99, Ralph Lauren)
- Pull&Bear Bomber Jacket in green polyester ($36, ASOS)
- Rag & Bone Manston Recycled Nylon Bomber Jacket in dark olive nylon ($595, Rag & Bone)
What to wear it with: In the spirit of the jacket itself… the sky’s the limit.
The Fleece-Lined Denim Trucker
As recently worn by Michael Gandolfini as a young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark
Often marketed as a “sherpa” trucker jacket in reference to the synthetic pile used to line less expensive jackets, these fleece-lined denim jackets evolved as an even more insulated variant of the blanket-lined Storm Rider that Lee had introduced in mid-20th century.
The essential details: Blue denim shell, white fleece lining and collar, button-flapped chest pockets, and a snap-up front for additional Western panache
- Gap Denim Sherpa Icon Jacket in medium indigo ($70, Gap)
- Levi’s Go Set Sherpa Jacket in medium cotton/polyester ($39.99, Marshall’s)
- Levi’s Sherpa Trucker Jacket in mustard sherpa light wash ($79.99, Levi’s; Macy’s; Target) →→→
- Levi’s Type 3 Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket in fable mid-wash ($138, General Pants; $190, ASOS)
- Levi’s Premium Vintage Fit Sherpa Trucker Jacket in light wash ($89.60, Nordstrom; $128, Levi’s)
- Lucky Brand Faux Shearling Lined Denim Trucker Jacket in “cypress indigo” ($99.97, Nordstrom Rack)
- Madewell Sherpa Classic Jean Jacket in Eaves wash ($175, Madewell)
- Polo Ralph Lauren Faux Shearling Lined Denim Jacket in “Keighton” ($248, Saks Fifth Avenue)
What to wear it with: This can either dress down a pair of chinos or provide the top half of a “Canadian tuxedo” when worn with your favorite broken-in jeans.
The Field Jacket
As worn by… many, including Woody Allen in Annie Hall, Robert Shaw in Jaws (read more!), Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah, Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer, Al Pacino in Serpico, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally
Like so many menswear staples, the modern field jacket originated as a military garment. Though similar hunting jackets have existed since at least the late 19th century, the field jacket in its current form dates back to World War II. The U.S. Army had outfitted its GIs in the khaki M-1941 field jacket, adapted from a civilian windbreaker as a lighter-weight alternative to the aging wool four-pocket coat that had been issued since World War I. The introduction of the cotton sateen M-1943 field jacket yielded the four-pocket olive drab coat currently associated with Army jackets, which evolved into the equally iconic M-1951 and M-1965 variations that remain popular civilian dress.
’70s cinema depicted a remarkable dichotomy as the mil-spec field jacket was favored equally by tough guys—De Niro, Pacino, and Shaw—as well as neurotic divorcees—like those played by Woody, Hoffman, and eventually Crystal.
The essential details: Mil-spec olive green water-resistant cotton construction, four flapped outside pockets, inner-drawstring waist, and dual-fastening front
- Aspesi Hooded Cargo Jacket in military green cotton/linen blend ($577, FarFetch)
- Banana Republic Water-Resistant Field Jacket in “so shady green” cotton/nylon blend ($169, Banana Republic)
- Barbour Logo-Embroidered Military Jacket ($282.10, Cettire)
- Gap Canvas Utility Jacket in “green moss” cotton ($44.99, Gap Factory)
- Gap Military Jacket with Hidden Hood in “deep brown woods” cotton canvas ($47.99, Gap Factory)
- J. Crew Garment-Dyed M65 Jacket in “hillside green” cotton canvas ($218, J. Crew)
- Mackintosh Skite Field Jacket in green cotton ($500, FarFetch)
- Madewell Field Jacket in “cargo green” cotton ($148, Madewell) →→→
- Polo Ralph Lauren The Iconic Field Jacket in “soldier olive” cotton, with patches ($298, Ralph Lauren)
- Propper M65 Field Coat Jacket in olive cotton/nylon ($75.43, Amazon)
- Roark Revival Bogor Jacket in “dark army” cotton ($59.21, Backcountry)
- WenVen Cotton Military Casual Stand Collar Windbreaker Field Jacket in “army green” cotton ($51.99, Amazon)
- Woolrich Field Patch Pocket Jacket in green cotton ($318.90, Cettire)
- Alpha Industries M-65 field jacket in olive cotton ($225, Alpha Industries)
- Cockpit USA M-43 field jacket in olive cotton poplin ($240, Cockpit USA)
- Cockpit USA M-51 field jacket in olive nylon/cotton sateen ($420, Cockpit USA)
- Cockpit USA M-65 field jacket in olive cotton/nylon sateen ($490, Cockpit USA)
- Rothco M-65 field jacket in olive cotton ($87.99, eBay)
What to wear it with: Lay over a flannel shirt and henley or use it to give an edge to an otherwise non-threatening sweater.
The Plaid Flannel Work Jacket
As worn by Dennis Haysbert in Far From Heaven
Plaid flannel outerwear had been a mainstay in American hunting gear for nearly a century by the time it went mainstream during the mid-20th century, around the time that suburban expansion lessened the cultural distance between cities and the country. Sartorial formality continued its descent with the boom of sportswear like camp-collared shirts and loafer jackets, and workwear went vogue as more men—including many returning servicemen from World War II—embraced the comfort of soft flannels and corduroys, often well-paired with their broken-in service khakis.
The essential details: Earthy brown plaid all-over pattern, napped finish, shirt-style but zip-up front, and external pockets either for cargo or hands
- Aspesi Plaid Pattern Knitted Jacket in wool blend ($1,055, FarFetch)
- Dark Seas Riviera Plaid Jacket in gold cotton ($110, Urban Outfitters)
- Dockers Wool Blend Jacket in brown plaid wool blend ($127.99, Dockers) →→→
- Frame Museum of Peace and Quiet Plaid Jacket in off-white multi acrylic blend ($478, Frame)
- Frank & Oak The Wool Overshirt in mahogany poly/wool blend ($149, Frank & Oak)
- H&M Wool-Blend Shirt Jacket in beige/dark blue poly/wool blend ($55.99, H&M)
- L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder Hi-Pile Sherpa Zip-front Jacket in olive spruce buffalo plaid polyester ($169, Todd Snyder)
- Woodland Supply Co. Men’s Heavy Warm Fleece Lined Zip Up Buffalo Plaid Jacket ($36.67-$49.06, Amazon)
What to wear it with: With an eye-catching plaid jacket, you can—and should!—tone down your underpinnings, such as a solid-colored flannel shirt and tonally coordinated trousers.
The Pre-WWII Flight Jacket
As worn by Cary Grant in Only Angels Have Wings (read more!)
Before the advent of iconic successors like the A-2, the U.S. military had issued a sleeker, more rakish flying jacket for its aviators, still a burgeoning branch of the Army and Navy in the early decades of the 20th century. The A-1 was formally authorized for Army Air Corps service in 1927, soon followed by the naval 37J1 variant as worn by Grant in Howard Hawks’ 1939 aviation adventure.
The essential details: Brown smooth or suede leather shell, button-fastened funnel neck, patch pockets, and knit cuffs and hem
- Aero Leathers Army Air Corps U.S. Army Type A-1 (£650, Aero Leathers)
- Avi Leather A-1 Flight Jacket in russet capeskin (€259, Avi Leathers)
- Bronson USAAF Type A-1 Leather Flight Jacket ($299.99, Bronson Mfg. Co.) →→→
- Chapal A1 Short Version (€3900, Chapal)
- Headwind Mfg. Co. USN 371J1 Flying Jacket in chestnut capeskin leather ($650, Headwind Mfg. Co.)
- Officine Générale French Suede Jacket in mustard olive ($1,560, Bloomingdale’s)
- Ralph Lauren RRL Leather Jacket in black-over-brown ($2,200, Ralph Lauren)
- The Real McCoy’s Type A-1 Flight Jacket in seal brown horsehide ($2,589, END.)
- Reiss Angel Suede Button-Through Jacket in mocha goat suede ($795, Reiss)
- Valstar Valstarino Slim-Fit Suede Bomber Jacket in brown goat suede ($1,200, MR PORTER)
What to wear it with: Suggest high-flying adventure with a quasi-military shirt made from blue chambray or khaki poplin.
The Corduroy Suit
As worn by Robert Redford in All the President’s Men (read more!) and Daniel Craig’s James Bond in No Time to Die
Many pushed their traditional business suits to the back of the closet over the last year and a half as working from home became the prevailing trend. Comfort became key, a philosophy continued even by many as they pull on two-piece suits while returning to the office, resisting the structured fit of conservative worsted in favor of the crumpled comfort offered by corduroy, validated by precedents in the form of Redford’s crusading reporter or Craig’s action-oriented super-spy.
The essential details: Tan medium-wale corduroy suiting with a single-breasted jacket and comfortably cut trousers
- Alex Mill Rugged Corduroy Blazer and Standard Pleated Pant in matching khaki corduroy ($175 jacket and $135 trousers, both Alex Mill) →→→
- Brunello Cucinelli Classic Corduroy Suit in taupe corduroy ($2,647.50, Saks Fifth Avenue)
- Massimo Alba Sloop Suit in beige cotton-corduroy ($1,425, MR PORTER; Neiman Marcus)
- Currently sold out, but worth watching as this was the exact model worn by Craig on screen
- Todd Snyder Italian Corduroy Mason Suit in brass corduroy ($676, Todd Snyder)
What to wear it with: In the spirit of the non-traditional fabric, nix the white shirt and repp tie in favor of a knitted tie and a broken-in blue shirt that coordinates with the dressed-down formality.
The Denim Western Shirt
As worn by Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor
The ultimate shirt of the working class hero, where the rugged reliability of the blue chambray work shirt meets the free-riding sensibilities of the snap-front Western shirt. Movies and TV frequently dress their heroes in blue denim snap shirts to indicate we’re meeting a true man of the earth, with Redford’s hero in Condor going the step further to dress his up for a day at the office with a tweed jacket, knitted tie, and—of course—jeans.
The essential details: Blue all-natural denim or chambray construction, Western-style yoking, and snap-style buttons on the front placket, pocket flaps, and cuffs
- 7 for All Mankind Sawtooth Pocket Shirt in medium indigo cotton ($188, 7 for All Mankind)
- American Eagle Super Soft Denim Shirt in blue cotton ($49.95, American Eagle)
- Diesel Western Denim Shirt in light blue cotton ($150, FarFetch)
- Express Slim Light Wash Stretch Denim Shirt ($56, Express)
- J. Crew Western Denim Shirt in “Western wash denim” cotton ($89.50, J. Crew)
- Lee Modern Rider Western Flannel Snap-Up Shirt in “dipped blue” cotton flannel ($60, Nordstrom) →→→
- Levi’s Barstow Western Standard Fit Denim Shirt in light blue cotton ($98, FarFetch & $110, ASOS)
- M&S Collection Western Denim Shirt in medium blue cotton ($50, Marks & Spencer)
- Polo Ralph Lauren Classic Fit Denim Western Shirt ($148, Ralph Lauren)
- Tom Ford Light Wash Denim Shirt in blue cotton ($495, FarFetch)
- Velvet by Graham & Spencer Wayne Denim Button-Up Shirt ($128, Velvet by Graham & Spencer)
- Wrangler Denim Western Snap Front Shirt in mid-tint denim cotton ($39, Wrangler)
What to wear it with: Our movie heroes dare to wear it with jeans, but I’d reserve that for only those willing to prove their Western mettle on horseback, while the rest of us could pair the denim top with the coarseness of a tweed sports coat or (not and) corduroy trousers. (If you do insist on jeans, may I suggest following Condor’s example and diversifying the denim effect by donning the additional layer of a sweater?)
The Brown-and-Blue Plaid Flannel Shirt
As worn by Jon Hamm in the finale episode of Mad Men, “Person to Person” (read more!)
The plaid flannel shirt needs little introduction, though it’s significant to see our once-quintessential “man in the gray flannel suit” shed his Madison Avenue tailoring as he spends the fall of 1970 at an Esalen-like institute on the California coast. Mad Men‘s acclaimed costume designer Janie Bryant told me earlier this year, “the flannel shirt and denim were really important for him to go back to his roots” as the erstwhile Dick Whitman continues his introspective journey.
The essential details: Brown, blue, and white tartan-style plaid, rugged flannel construction, long sleeves, button-up placket, and chest pockets (preferably two non-matching patch ones!)
- American Eagle Cozy Cabin Flannel in blue cotton flannel ($49.95, American Eagle)
- Brixton Bowery Plaid Flannel Button-Up Shirt in blue/brown cotton blend ($44.95-$64.20, Amazon & $65, Nordstrom) →→→
- Frank & Oak Archive Plaid Kapok Flannel Button-Up Shirt in brown cotton blend ($89.50, Nordstrom)
- Marmot Men’s Fairfax Midweight Flannel Long-Sleeve Shirt in brown cotton blend ($60, Marmot)
- Officine Générale Lipp in brown, navy, and ecru plaid cotton ($310, Saks Fifth Avenue)
- Old Navy Regular-Fit Patterned Flannel Shirt in olive plaid flannel ($36.99, Old Navy)
- Vans Men’s Box Buffalo Check Flannel Button-Up Shirt in demitasse/blue coral cotton ($49.50, Nordstrom)
- Volcom Caden Plaid Long Sleeve in wren cotton ($61.95, Zappos)
- Wrangler Authentics Men’s Long Sleeve Flannel Shirt in rosin cotton ($21.50-$60, Amazon)
What to wear it with: You’re as far from Madison Avenue as it gets, so all you should need are hard-wearing jeans, a sturdy belt, and work boots you aren’t afraid to get dirty.
The Burgundy Shadow Plaid Flannel Shirt
As worn by Rock Hudson in All That Heaven Allows
Unlike Draper, the affable and ambitious landscaper Ron Kirby (Hudson) looks more out of place in flannel suits than he does in flannel shirts, spending most of his days in rugged, two-pocket plaid flannel shirts. In addition to the film’s Christmas-set climax, the holiday red that Kirby wears for his introduction to Cary (Jane Wyman) appropriately conveys the undeniable passion between the two despite the differences in their age and social strata.
The essential details: Burgundy-on-black shadow plaid pattern, flannel construction, long sleeves, and retro-inspired detailing like camp collars or dual pocket flaps
- All Saints Bernstadt Shirt in sienna red wool blend ($185, All Saints) →→→
- Apt. 9 Seriously Soft Untucked Stretch Flannel Shirt in “wine tasting” stretch cotton ($29.99, Kohl’s)
- Express Slim Plaid Stretch Flannel Shirt in red print stretch cotton ($47.60, Express)
- Isabel Marant Checked Long Sleeve Shirt in red/black wool blend ($445, FarFetch)
- Ksubi Consciousness Plaid Shirt in red/black polyester blend ($225, FarFetch)
- L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder Heavyweight Plaid Shirt in colonial red cotton twill ($149, Todd Snyder)
- Tintoria Mattei Buttoned-Up Check Shirt in black/red cotton/viscose ($212, FarFetch)
- Wrangler Men’s Long Sleeve Epic Soft Flannel Shirt ($45, Macy’s)
What to wear it with: Dress it up for days stirring red-hot passions in suburban gardens with a pair of dirt-ready khakis and russet leather belt and boots.
The Navy Shawl-Collar Cardigan
As worn by Steve McQueen in real life
In addition to his reputation as King of Cool, McQueen could also be deemed the King of Cardigans for his role in immortalizing the shawl-collar cardigan as an unlikely contender for one of the coolest pieces a man can own. Despite the cardigan’s squarer connotations (with all due apologies to Mister Rogers), it emerged as a must-have item leading the modern menswear renaissance, having been revived in Quantum of Solace by Daniel Craig, whose complexion, stature, and sense of style have invited sartorial comparison to McQueen throughout the actor’s tenure as 007.
The essential details: Rich navy color, durable—but not chunky—ribbed knitting, shawl collar, and hand pockets
- Autograph Cashmere Shawl Collar Cardigan in dark navy cashmere ($208, Marks & Spencer)
- Express Solid Mixed Stitch Cardigan in navy cotton/polyester ($61.60, Express)
- Liverpool Knit Cardigan in navy cotton/acrylic ($98, Liverpool Jeans)
- M&S Collection Super Soft Shawl Collar Cardigan in navy mix polyester blend ($60, Marks & Spencer)
- Peregrine Waffle Shawl Cardigan in navy British wool ($220, Wolf & Badger)
- Polo Ralph Lauren Ribbed Button Cardigan in navy 90% wool/10% cashmere ($250, MR PORTER; $298, Ralph Lauren; $307.32, Cettire)
What to wear it with: Cardigan icons Steve McQueen and Daniel Craig wore both collared button-up shirts and plain crew-neck T-shirts in white or gray cotton, frequently paired with beige jeans-style trousers like Bedford cords.
The OG-107 Utility Pants
As worn by the cast of M*A*S*H, including Alan Alda as the maverick Army surgeon Captain “Hawkeye” Pierce (read more!)
The U.S. Army introduced its new cotton sateen work utility uniform in 1952 during the Korean War, replacing the herringbone twill (HBT) M1943 pattern that had been in place since the middle of World War II. Made from an 8.5-ounce cotton sateen known as OG-107 for its drab shade of “olive green 107”, these fatigues consisted of a long-sleeved button-up shirt and trousers that would become one of the longest-authorized uniforms in Army history.
OG-107 fatigues were particularly popularized on M*A*S*H, set during the Korean War but produced from 1972 to 1983. With little concern for accurately portraying period uniforms, most of the Army personnel featured on the show were dressed in varying patterns of the OG-107 uniform, with only a select few outfitted in the chronologically correct HBT.
Aside from sizing specifications and the removal of waist adjuster tabs, the trousers changed little during the uniform’s nearly 40 years in service. Like many preceding military uniform pieces, the OG-107 pants became popular among civilians, with commercial manufacturers often marketing them as “utility pants” with the characteristic side-entry patch pockets on the front and flapped patch pockets on the back. These front pockets differ from cargo pockets, which had been introduced in British battle dress and American paratrooper uniforms during World War II and seem to be undergoing their own revival at the moment. (It’s too soon for me; cargo pants remind me too much of my awkward 8th grade years.)
The essential details: Mil-spec olive drab cotton construction, belt loops (possibly also with side-adjuster tabs!), and patch-style side-entry front pockets and flapped back patch pockets
- Abercrombie & Fitch ’90s Loose Pant in olive green twill ($69, A&F)
- Alex Mill Field Chino in deep olive cotton blend ($125, Alex Mill) →→→
- Club Monaco Utility Pants in green poly/cotton ($69, Club Monaco)
- J. Crew Camp Pant in “Catskill green” cotton ($98, J. Crew)
- Joe’s Elastic Waist Slim Fit Utility Trousers in “thyme” cotton blend ($198, Nordstrom)
- Mountain Hardwear Cederberg Utility Pants in stone-green cotton blend ($89.95, Zappos)
- Rails Gobi Slim Tapered Leg Linen Blend Pants in olive linen/cotton blend ($128, Nordstrom; Saks Fifth Avenue)
- Urban Outfitters Vintage OG107 Pant in olive cotton ($89, Urban Outfitters)
What to wear them with: Go full M*A*S*H in a Hawaiian shirt, or treat them as a unique alternative to denim.
If you have any other fall favorites, please share in the comments!