The Roll Call: Work Jackets
As far as titles or categories go, the term ‘work jacket’ is fairly self explanatory. Put simply, they’re jackets to work in, and whether they were designed for military mechanics or French farmers, they often follow a similar blueprint. No bells, no whistles, just plenty of hard-wearing cotton fabric, some buttons down the front and a few handy pockets for storing the tools of the trade.
It’s a simple recipe, but it’s one that’s proven particularly effective for over a hundred years, and although these utilitarian garments were often designed with a specific job in mind, their versatile nature makes them ideal for modern life.
This season Nigel Cabourn and his team have worked on a wide range of work jackets, each pulling influence from vintage pieces. Here’s a quick look at them...
The USMC Jacket
The USMC Jacket is a hip-length overshirt which combines elements from not one, but two time-honoured classics of the work-wear world. That short, boxy shape (a common feature of vintage workwear) was taken from the ‘bleu de travail’ jackets worn by French labourers, railroad workers and farmers, whilst those sizable bellows pockets are a nod to the utility jackets worn by the United States Marine Corps during WW2.
It’s made from thick cotton canvas and, in line with it’s vintage inspiration, features distressed edge detailing on the cuffs, hem and pocket flaps for a tastefully worn-in feel.
The Deck Smock
With its large hood and over-the-head design, the Deck Smock is perhaps not exactly the kind of thing that instantly springs to mind when you think of work jackets. That said, it’s still heavily indebted to vintage work-wear design—in this case, the hard-wearing smocks worn by US Navy mechanics during WW2.
Originally made from loosely woven denim, these light utility jackets (sometimes known as ‘dungaree parkas’) were designed to be worn on deck, and featured big hoods which could be worn over a helmet.
A new design for AW20, the Cabourn version swaps out the denim in favour of some comfortable garment-dyed cotton gabardine, and adds in some snap-closure bellows pockets, borrowed from an RAF cold weather flight suit.
The Naval Hip Jacket
Another maritime design, the Naval Hip Jacket is a utility-jacket based on a rare US Navy design. A bit of a twist on the theme, it’s made from heavyweight smooth-back jersey cotton rather than canvas or cotton twill, giving it a slightly softer feel.
With it’s short and sharp shape, this is a unique alternative to a trucker jacket, and works just as well over a t-shirt as it does as a layering piece. And for those after the full ensemble, it pairs perfectly with the Arctic Jersey Pants.
The British Army Blazer
Perhaps the most formal jacket on the list, the British Army Blazer merges WW2 military design with a silhouette based on traditional notch lapel jackets. Made from worn-in pigment-dyed canvas, it’s still most definitely a work-jacket, but thanks to that lapel, it also works as a suit jacket when paired with the British Army Pants.
The British Army Jacket
And finally, there’s the British Army Jacket. Like the USMC Jacket, this one owes a lot to the classic French chore-coat design, but inspiration also comes from the military world, and that pleated chest pocket is feature re-purposed from a vintage pair of British WW2 trousers.
This one has been a Lybro regular for a while now, and for good reason… it’s a solid wardrobe work-horse built to last.