Is this the best of waxed jacketing?
UK company John Barbour & Sons, founded in 1894 and now known simply as Barbour, has a long and rich heritage of producing outerwear that is both highly functional and aesthetically appealing.
They’re best known for their rainproof waxed cotton jackets, in addition to the Barbour International sub-label which was launched as traditional motorcyclist’s clothing.
The appeal spans all classes; in England you can find them on everybody from working class country folk right up to the Royal Family, since the brand possesses a Royal Warrant.
In Australia they’re a sight less common, partly because it’s so troublesome to acquire one, but I tracked one down regardless.
There’s something about these jackets which is really special.
For starters, I’ve never seen any other type of waxed cotton jacket that looks as equally at home over a smart suit as it is over a tweed sport coat and denim.
I’ve never seen another waxed jacket that looks at home over a suit at all.
Yet, Barbour’s longer jacket models possess this special quality.
The Beaufort is the shorter of the long ones, with the back length sitting somewhere around 34″. It’s not quite a three quarter jacket, but it’s ample enough to cover a proper length tailored jacket.
Its raglan shoulder construction means that it fits effortlessly over structured jacket shoulders, but gives a touch of louche casual attitude to an outfit.
The size of the collar is excellently proportioned, and the dark brown wide-wale corduroy proves both comfortable when turned up and versatile when playing with other colours.
The Classic Beaufort model is offered only in olive, pictured above, while the regular Beaufort model is also offered in additional colours.
As far as I’m aware, the only difference between the Classic and regular Beaufort is in regards to the pattern and colour of the tartan lining.
The Beaufort’s marriage of design aesthetic with utilitarianism is shown in its numerous pockets and chunky brass zips.
The main zip is a dual-blade zipper, something I love on a longer jacket, as it allows adjustment of the zip from the bottom side when sitting.
There are pockets everywhere.
Two front bellow pockets with snap fastenings, a zip-closure wallet pocket hidden behind the flap that covers the front main zip, a rear game pocket with openings on either side which extends across the entirety of the back, and two moleskin-lined hand warmers located halfway down the front of the jacket.
All zips are the same chunky brass seen on the main front zip, besides the small hidden wallet pocket.
Additionally, the Beaufort’s collar is closable when turned up, via the piece of fabric that hangs down from the left side of the collar. This means everything from the face down to the bottom of the jacket is protected in heavy weather.
I’ve found myself wearing this jacket multiple times per week in the winter, because of its practicality and ease of dressing up or down.
There’s room for a removable winter lining and a removable hood, both of which can be purchased separately. The lining used in the Classic Beaufort is 100% cotton, including the sleeves.
This is a welcome usage; it means the lining is breathable and you won’t sweat, whereas on more modern Barbours like the Ashby, a common complaint from owners is that the synthetic lining used on the Ashby sleeves causes quite a bit of perspiration.
Sizing wise, the Beaufort is designed to sit comfortably over a jacket. I went with my regular size, C44.
The armholes are low and the sleeves on the modern ones are a decent length.
It’s cut boxy and hangs straight at the sides, and I found that mine just looked too boxy off the rack, even over my bulkiest sack-cut tweed jacket.
I knew I would never end up wearing it if I left it that way, and had it slimmed by my alterationist.
I could possibly have gotten away with sizing down to a C42. However, I doubt a size down would fit well over another jacket; on the other hand, if I was planning to wear it as an outerwear piece on its own a downsize would have been in good order.
It’s a real shame these are so difficult to come by in Australia, because it’s an absolute gem of a jacket.
The only thing that makes me hesitate about recommending one is its scarcity, and even the difficulty of sourcing the Barbour wax dressing for rewaxing the jackets, which is recommended to be done once per year.
If you can get one second hand, go for it.
Yes, some Australian retailers do stock some Barbour products, but not the Beaufort.
At least, not that I’m aware of.