Windbreakers are seen all the time in athletics. They’re just the right thing when you’re playing golf, or sailing, fishing or hunting. They’re perfect for wearing while biking or hiking or being around the lake or any kind of water. A windbreaker is just the right thing for a damp day or windy day. But can you wear windbreakers in the summer? Are windbreakers strictly fall weather wear or can you look stylish even during the hot season?
We studied what the experts had to say, what all the fashionable people are wearing during the summer months and what all our research into windbreaker jacket designs had to tell us. And when it comes to wearing a windbreaker in the summer, we say go for it. Style it the right way and you will look amazing on any summer day. The right windbreaker will be just what you need for the perfect outfit.
What Is a Windbreaker?
By definition, a windbreaker is really any jacket that is made of wind-resistant material. Under this definition, many different types of jackets can qualify as windbreakers. But when you think of the classic windbreaker, you probably think of something that’s very thin and lightweight. It might be colorful or have a zip-up design. They can serve as a rain jacket in quick storms and light rainfall, though they’re not really made to be heavy rain jackets like the standard trench coat. In many cases, windbreakers are made to be lightweight shells that are thin enough to be worn even during summer weather. They’re lighter in weight than a standard denim jacket or leather jacket and they aren’t thick or insulated like a quilted jacket.
In British English, windbreakers are called windcheaters. The word windbreaker is more common in U.S. English. The word was patented in the 1940s by the John Rissman Company, a clothing retailer. They sold a jacket made out of gabardine that they marketed as “the only genuine windbreaker.” Gabardine material is very lightweight but durable. It’s a twill material that is often used in outerwear. It’s still used in modern fashion all the time, though often it’s found in heavy outer wear, like utility jacket designs.
However, the word dates to at least 1918. It originally referred to a type of leather shirt that was meant to be warm and insulating in cold weather. But it wasn’t until after WWII that materials like nylon were available, replacing the heavier leathers of the past. Artificial fabrics made it easier to create lightweight windbreakers that didn’t trap heat even as they resisted moisture.
Windbreakers are meant to be water-resistant and water-repellent. They’re designed so that water rolls off the material, rather than saturating it. However, most windbreakers are not waterproof. This means that in very heavy rain and when saturated with water, they will certainly get wet. Windbreakers are not raincoats. They’re made to withstand no more than a light rain. But that’s exactly what makes them so perfect for summer wear. Windbreakers are lightweight and they won’t trap heat, so they’re exactly right for even the hot days and they offer just enough protection in damp weather.
As NBC News explained it, “water-repellent jackets are somewhat similar to raindrops in a windowpane – the rain just rolls off.” Water-repellent jackets like windbreakers are made to resist rain and they’re designed so that moisture will slide off them. However, even sturdy windbreakers can’t stay totally dry in a deluge.
Where Did Windbreakers Come From?
The modern windbreaker really hit its stride n the fashion world in the 1970s, when athletic gear of all kinds became all the rage in pop fashion. Windbreakers were brightly-colored in the 1980s and everyone was wearing them. Today’s windbreakers are more sophisticated, more streamlined and even more fashionable.
But the real history of the windbreaker dates back through the centuries. That’s right, centuries. The windbreaker is really just an evolution of the parka, an outerwear garment developed by the Inuit living in Alaska centuries ago. The early versions of the parka were made with two animal skins covered with seal fat to make them waterproof. The two layers made the design highly insulating and warm, even on the coldest days.
In the 1970s, the parka took on a new shape as a windbreaker, a lightweight jacket made with synthetic materials. It was at this time at Members Only, a famous name in windbreakers, debuted its Iconic Racer Jacket.
Members Only set the world on fire. During the 1980s, everyone owned Members Only jackets. They were the perfect casual, go-anywhere style that looked fashionable and felt comfortable. And in lots of popular designs, they were windbreakers. The windbreaker quickly became go-to outwear, as iconic as the classic leather jacket and as integral to casual fashion as the denim jacket.
The Perfect Summer Windbreaker
Windbreakers were practically made for the summertime. It’s the perfect thing to wear when you’re outdoors…and isn’t being outdoors what summer is all about? The windbreaker is an extremely practical summertime choice. In fact, Men’s Journal recommends it.
According to them, “not only will lightweight jackets pull your look together, but the comfort of having an extra layer once the temperature dips at night make them a good option. (Plus, having somewhere to store your headphones, pocket knife, pens, and sunglasses that isn’t the pocket of whatever pair of pants you’re wearing is always a welcome thing.)”
If you’re going to wear a windbreaker in summer, choose a windbreaker that’s well-suited to hot summer weather. Look for the most lightweight windbreakers out there. Stay away from all insulting designs, as this will hold in heat and keep you warm. that’s the last thing you want when the temperature is up there. Windbreakers that have breathable designs are great, too because this will release heat and encourage ventilation around the body.
You also want to stick to light and bright colors when you’re shopping for summer fashion. White, khaki, yellow and pastel colors are all perfect for summer weather because they reflect heat. Dark colors, like black, hold in heat. This can turn your windbreaker into an oven. It doesn’t take a lot of outdoor research to know that light-colored clothing will keep you much cooler in summer than darker hues.
There’s an easy rule to summer fashion: keep it light and keep it bright. If you do that, you’ll always be in style and you’ll be comfortable all season long.
How to Wear a Windbreaker in Summer
If you’re going to wear a windbreaker in the summer, do it with style. There are lots of different ways to wear a windbreaker even during the hottest days so that you look totally stylish and on-trend.
The windbreaker is the perfect “activities” jacket. If you’re doing anything outside during the summer, grab a windbreaker to take with you. Remember that you can always shed this outer layer if needed and ie it around your waist if you get too hot, Otherwise, this is the perfect thing to wear when you’re going to be fishing, hiking and participating in outdoor activities of any type during the summer.
Slip it on over your cargo shorts and hiking boots and a lightweight cotton T shirt. Now, you’re ready for whatever the summer day might throw your way. Don’t forget your essentials: sunglasses, sunblock and a hat to shade your eyes.
Summer Storm Protection
Summer is the time for sunshine and for enjoying the great outdoors. But summer is also a time for quick, wet storms to flash up and disappear. It’s common around many parts of the U.S. for the summer weather to bring quick, fierce thunderstorms that drop rain everywhere before moving on quickly. Even in a short amount of time, the temperature drops and everything gets wet. Well…everything except for you. Because you’ll be wearing a windbreaker.
Keep one handy for summer storms to be prepared for the weather when it happens. This will work great with sneakers, jeans and a T shirt or tank top. Slide into the windbreaker when the storm hits, take it off when it’s over and now you’re back to your summer fun. The windbreaker is just a light jacket but it’s enough to protect you during a summer storm that fizzles out quickly. You can’t always haul a lot of rain gear around with you, stuff that ends up being heavy and burdensome. But you can always carry a windbreaker. You don’t need a fully waterproof jacket in summer, so this is the perfect option.
Wear it at Night
Wear a bomber jacket-style windbreaker for any evening summer activities on your agenda. The windbreaker bomber jacket is very lightweight so it won’t get too hot but it will offer a little protection against those evening summer breezes. The lightweight fabric will offer just the right amount of wind protection for those summer nights.
This is a great layer to wear over a pair of slacks and a button-down shirt. It’s a perfect look for a date, an evening out with friends or for an evening out alone. Finish the look off with sandals, flats or loafers with no socks. This is a very trendy and stylish look that will fit in anywhere, even in semi-formal settings. This look is a little more sophisticated than a standard jean jacket because it’s just a little less casual, though brightly colored windbreakers should be avoided if you’re going for a more semi-formal vibe.
Windbreakers really came to fame as athletic wear and they’re still perfect for this purpose. Windbreakers made in breathable fabric are designed to be worn during all kinds of athletic activities, from running on the track to playing on the court to working out at the gym. It’s in the warmer seasons that you start thinking about getting in shape the most, so it’s only natural to have gear that’s made to help you with this task. Breathable designs release body heat so you won’t get overheated.
Wear a windbreaker with matching windbreaker pants to create a complete workout look. This is the right style for going to the gym or for playing sports with friends. Finish it off with a good pair of sneakers. You may want to add a cross body bag to hold items like a water bottle and a towel.
Make it Sexy
If you want to wear a windbreaker in the summer but you’re afraid of getting too hot under there, choose a cropped style. A cropped windbreaker will end around the midriff and leave skin exposed so that you stay cool and dry even during the worst of the summer heat. Pair this with a short crop top or a tank top and shorts to stay completely cool. Finish the look off with a simple shoe, like a strappy sandal or a flip flop. This is a great beach look. The windbreaker protects you from ocean spray and sand but it’s still cool enough to wear during a hot, sunny day. It’s a perfect summer jacket for being beachside, lakeside or poolside, or any other fun summer outdoor activity.
Over the Shoulder
Who says you have to wear a windbreaker to make it look stylish? You can make a windbreaker part of your outfit without ever putting it on. Add that little something to a short summer dress by draping a windbreaker over your shoulders. This is a classic look and t’s also practical. If the weather takes a turn, you can always slip into the windbreaker and protect the dress until the moisture passes.
Unlike an insulated jacket, a windbreaker won’t hold in your body heat. And unlike an oversized denim jacket, which is a popular additional layer to short dresses in fall and spring fashion, the windbreaker won’t get wet. Denim takes a long time to dry. Windbreaker fabric is made to resist moisture and because it’s so lightweight, it dries quickly.
How Should a Windbreaker Fit?
There are many different types of windbreakers made in all different styles. The classic windbreaker is elasticized around the cuffs and the waist. However, this is a somewhat dated or retro look these days. Now, you will find that windbreakers come in many other styles. Some are sleek and straight, some are made to be fitted, some are loose and blousy. It’s hard to know how a windbreaker is supposed to fit because it really all depends on the style of windbreaker you’re wearing and the look you’re going for. There are different windbreaker styles to suit all weather condition possibilities but summer windbreakers are styled to be light and cool in all designs.
Oversized windbreakers are actually very hot in fashion. This pairs beautifully with leggings and skinny jeans. You can add sandals or high heels for a great summery look. Top it off iwth sunglasses to make the look causally glamorous. The sunglasses really add a movie star sort of vibe. Oversized windbreakers will be loose around your body but they don’t have to be long. This style can be anywhere from waist-length to thigh-length. The fit should be somewhat baggy but not so baggy that your entire body looks swamped. You won’t want to appear as though you’re swimming in your clothes.
If you’re trying to create a more athletic look or a sexier look, choose a windbreaker in a more fitted style. This should be no longer than hip length and the sleeves should end at or above your wrists. Windbreakers that are meant to be more fitted will usually have some tapering around the waist so it shows more of your shape.
Wear a straight-style or somewhat blousy windbreaker if you’re aiming for a more casual style or you’re looking for something to wear when you’re being active outdoors. This windbreaker should be fitted in that it ends at the wrists and stops before it gets to the hips, but the design should be just a little bit loose so that you have a full range of comfortable motion.
So, can you wear windbreakers in summer? Not only can you, but there are lots of times when you should. Windbreakers look great, they’re highly practical and they’re very comfortable. Actually, they’re perfect for the summer. And since windbreakers are so trendy in fashion right now, you’ve got all the reasons you need to add several of them to your wardrobe.
FashionBeans – The 6 Must-Have Summer Jackets for Men
The Highest Fashion – What is a Windbreaker Jacket – All You Need to Know About Windbreakers
Land’s End – Best Light Jackets to Wear in the Rain This Summer
Member’s Only – History of the Windbreaker
Merriam-Webster – windbreaker
Outfit Trends – Windbreaker Outfits – 43 Ways to Wear Windbreakers for Women
WikiHow – How to Style Windbreakers