A jacket is the last thing most of us want to think about in the warmer months. But how often do we find ourselves shivering in air conditioning or soaked by a sudden storm?

The transition into fall rewards the pursuit of a versatile jacket, not just for personal climate control.

“Coats over the last few seasons are trending,” said Red Godfrey, Nordstrom fashion office vice president. “The reason for buying has shifted from not only being a functional decision but a true outfit completer.”

Uniqlo’s chief creative officer, LeAnn Nealz, says outerwear has always been her favorite category in any season.

“It finishes an outfit,” she said. “I always have outerwear for different times of the year” — even lightweight down for the beach in summer.

Summer suggests simpler lines and less coverage — a collarless jacket with cropped sleeves or ones that can be cuffed or rolled up, said Ann Taylor fashion expert Emily Evans.

“Luxury-sport” is a major trend influencing jackets, points out Jim Wetzel, an independent retailer who co-owns Madison Hall and space519 in Chicago. “But it can be a slippery slope into ending up inappropriately casual,” he said. “It’s all about contrasting: If the shape is sporty, the fabric should be dressier and vice versa.”

Loft fashion director Amanda Kraemer recommends checking the proportions of other pieces in your closet before shopping for jackets. “A cropped jacket is perfect for pairing with midi- and maxi-length skirts and dresses; an elongated option is good for wearing with something more slim or cropped; oversized is great for layering over a sweater.”

Add a jacket or two over time, Godfrey advised. Mixing high and low and shopping end-of-season and preseason deals maximize your dollars.

Here are five styles, available at many price points, that will see you through the transition to fall.

Soft trench: “The soft layered look is one of the looks of the season and is set to continue,” Godfrey said. “It can be layered over soft separates such as an easy pant and tunic or thrown over your shoulders with a T-shirt and jeans or a simple dress.”

Kimono: In sheer fabrics, kimono toppers reign on the music-festival circuit. Now they’ve expanded their borders with more structure and rustic textures. “They comfortably fit over whatever you’re wearing underneath,” Godfrey said.

Cropped moto jacket: It’s become a wardrobe staple but reboots each season with new colors and materials. “With the ’70s trend on the rise, the newest versions are in suede,” Godfrey said. For summer into early fall, Ann Taylor fashion expert Emily Evans says the brand’s twill moto jacket has been a hit, pairing utilitarian details with a feminine shape.

Rain jacket: We, too, wanted to believe an umbrella would suffice. Solace for being wet-wrong? A wide selection of reinforcements, from geek-chic anoraks to lightweight shells from performance brands. Wetzel likes hooded raincoats from Stutterheim out of Sweden, which combine tech details such as heat-sealed seams and dry-wick interiors with sophisticated silhouettes. For affordable versatility, a packable jacket from Uniqlo stuffs into a pouch for travel.

Black blazer: White and other lighter neutrals typically take over in summer. But a black blazer can pair with summer’s nautical stripes now and with just about anything later. Wetzel likes a shorter, boyish silhouette by Nili Lotan or Veronica Beard, who has styles with a hooded French terry dickey for a sporty update. A stretch-jersey fabrication also can relax the look and feel — Uniqlo has these — and extend wearability into all seasons and settings.


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