The Roll Call: Herringbone Utility-Wear
Herringbone is a geometric pattern with a history which stretches back a few thousand years. Taking its name from the distinct shape of a fish’s skeleton, it’s effectively a broken ‘v’ motif which zig-zags across everything from Roman roads to Ancient Egyptian jewellery.
In the clothing world it’s perhaps most famous for its use in wool suits, but has also played a big part in military design, and cotton herringbone twill was used to make the classic fatigues worn by the US Army during the majority of WW2.
This summer, garment-dyed herringbone twill has been used on a large array of styles in the Lybro workwear range. These hard-wearing herringbone items are made to the high standards you’d expect from Nigel Cabourn, and are available in four different colours, giving you the oppurtunity to mix and match however you see fit.
The British Army Jacket
The British Army Jacket is a light work jacket which combines features from both military and workwear design. The shape itself takes cues from the classic cotton chore jackets especially popular with French farmers and craftsmen, but the usual patch pocket on the chest has been swapped out with the kind of pleated pocket often found on British military clothing.
Made from that tough, washed herringbone, it’s a useful everyday jacket that works equally well in its own right or as part of a full utility suit along with the WW2 Pants or the Pleated Chinos.
The British Army Blazer
The British Army Blazer features the same pocket configuration and metal Lybro buttons as the British Army Jacket, but instead of a regular collar, it has a notched lapel, bringing to mind the classic work jackets worn by railway workers. With those unstructured shoulders, it’s more casual than most blazers, making it an ideal informal suit jacket.
And for those looking for a full three-piece workwear suit, there’s also the British Army Vest—a new design for this season inspired by vintage workwear waistcoats.
The WW2 Pants
The WW2 Pants are based around trousers worn by the British army during the Second World War, and are a pair of military pants featuring an asymmetrical patch-pocket configuration. The large flap pocket on the left leg was originally designed for maps, whilst the smaller pleated pocket on the right was for carrying ‘FFD’ or ’First Field Dressing’—a sterile dressing meant to stop bleeding.
Fit-wise, these have a classic relaxed, straight-legged shape, meaning they work well with a wide range of footwear—from canvas pumps to work-boots.
The WW2 Shorts
As well as the WW2 Pants, the same pocket configuration has also been put to use on the the WW2 Shorts. Military shorts have a long history, stretching back to the late 19th Century and a band of Nepalese soldiers known as the Ghurkas, who wore pleated khaki shorts with a double-buckled waistband. Later, during WW1, British soldiers posted in Bermuda took to wearing khaki shorts after apparently seeing the staff of the local tea shop sporting cut-off khakis—inadvertently creating what are now known as ‘Bermuda shorts’.
The Pleated Chinos are Nigel’s version of the light cotton trousers worn by US personnel stationed in the Pacific Theatre in WW2. Thanks to the low-profile side-entry pockets and those front pleats, these are a touch more formal than most military trousers, and because they’re made from that washed herringbone cotton, they work particularly well as part of a suit along with the British Army Jacket or Blazer.
The Naval Dungarees
And finally, there’s the ever-popular Naval Dungarees. Inspired by the hard-wearing loose-fitting ’deck bibs’ worn by US Naval officers working on deck in the 1940s, these are an updated version of a seldom-seen design classic. Original features like that leather cross-strap (to keep the shoulder straps stay in place) and those metal clips on the side (for easy access) have been kept firmly in place, and extra pockets have been added to make the dungarees even more useful.