An Outerwear Icon

Steve McQueen. As a style icon and all round man’s man there is probably no better advertisement for the Harrington jacket, unless you choose to include Elvis Presley, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood, Joe Strummer and even James Bond (in the Daniel Craig guise). It would be fair to say then that many of the coolest and most stylish men of recent times have dabbled with this tartan lined beauty, but why? What makes it a viable alternative to timeless trench or pea coats, leathers or the more recent and very much on trend denim and varsity jackets? Why should you choose a Harrington over any of the aforementioned styles?

Personally I would take my Harrington over any other style, everyday of the week; I just love it that much. Unless of course it was a Burberry trench coat on offer, but I’m sure a very large number of you would be exactly the same and it’s highly unlikely I’ll be offered a Burberry trench any time soon. But before I place the Harrington on too high a pedestal, let us (or me more specifically) take a step back and consider it from a much less subjective point of view.

The original Harrington design appeared in the 1930s, but was initially called the Baracuta G9 by its creators John and Isaac Miller, the owners of the now famous Baracuta company. The moniker ‘Harrington’ didn’t appear until the 1960s, when Ryan O’Neal starred in 60s soap opera Peyton Place as Rodney Harrington, and regularly sported the G9 on set. It was designed primarily as a golfers jacket; lightweight and shower proof with deep pockets and high sleeves allowing for greater movement, but it soon became a favourite with the fashionable young gents of the time, laying the foundation for its future popularity.

With all this celebrity endorsement, it is no wonder the Harrington has been a regular feature in almost every generation’s style and culture, the most notable group of course being the mods. This is where a lot of style inspiration in utilising the Harrington comes from – being such an iconic part of the whole scene – so it is only fitting that your look, should you plump for a Harrington, will include a few mod touches. So the next question of course, is how to wear your Harrington.

Harrington Look Book

Men's Harrington Jacket Fashion Look Book

How To Wear

The advantage you have with a Harrington over say leather or denim jackets is a little more versatility. The mod look involved a lot of suiting and booting and you couldn’t wear your parka all year round, so something lighter had to be available. This means that it can work with more formal attire, certainly not a full suit, but perhaps in place of your suit jacket. This look is perfect for the more casual uniform office environment were you don’t want, or don’t need to wear a blazer.

There are however, a few things to consider when making your choice:

  • Colour – Unlike Denim or Leather jackets you have a greater choice of colour. If you are using it purely for casual looks, then the colour is entirely up to you; designers have started to release Harrington’s in bold colours, checks and stripes, so it is personal preference. Tan/Beige jackets are possibly the most iconic and work for both casual and formal outfits, but should you want to use it for work, stick to darker colours – black or navy.
  • The Cut – They tend to be a little shorter and slimmer cut than most other types of jacket. If you go for a Baracuta, the various styles they produce all have slightly different measurements, even though they are still small, medium or large. I would suggest trying a size up, depending on the look you want to create and how much room you wish to leave for layering. I only use my Harrington in warmer weather with perhaps a maximum of 3 layers underneath it, so a small suits me fine. As with colour, this is all down to personal preference. The difference in measurements will also affect the length, with most jackets sitting on the same level as the waistline. You should decide just how tight and short you want your choice to be and make your decision based on that.

Wear your Harrington with a crisp shirt, slim tie, cardigan, sharp trousers and a decent pair of leather brogues or loafers for a slightly more informal work look with clear nods to mod heritage. Or simply pair with a polo or checked shirt (keep the top button done up), slim or skinny jeans and some brown/tan brogue boots or desert boots.

My personal preference is to wear my jacket (a Baracuta G10 Mod Harrington) with either black or dark blue skinny jeans, brown brogue boots or Chelsea boots, and a decent polo or t-shirt. I mix in a cardigan should the weather prove chilly, but you could just as easily replace it with a fine knit jumper. I tend to avoid accessories, but I am quite partial to a pair of sunglasses, keeping it classic with clubmasters or wayfarers.

  • G10 'Project 137' Wax Harrington Made in England
  • G9 'Project 137' Wax Harrington Made in England Chocolate
  • Baracuta X BStore G3 Voile Harrington Jacket Black
  • G9 Cool Slim Fit Harrington Jacket Acorn
  • G9 Slim Fit Harrington Jacket Grey
  • G9 Slim Fit Harrington Jacket Purple
  • Baracuta G9 jacket
  • Baracuta G35 Dean Beige Windcheater Jacket
  • Baracuta G9 Slim Fit Green Harrington Jacket
  • Baracuta G9 Slim Fit Royal Blue Harrington Jacket
  • Ben Sherman London Harrington Jacket
  • Fred Perry Club Stripe Jacket
  • Paul Smith Jeans Harrington Jacket
  • B-Store/Baracuta G3 Exclusive Harrington Jacket
  • TMD Navy Printed Harrington
  • TMD Contrast Harrington Jacket
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs Faded Fawn Parachute Blouson
  • HERITAGE RESEARCH Drizzler Red Jacket
  • E. Tautz Zip Up Tweed Harrington Jacket

My advice when purchasing your Harrington (as with most clothes), is to spend that little bit extra to get something high quality and timeless; it will look better, fit better and last longer. I can tell you from personal experience that the Baracuta jackets are very well made, look absolutely brilliant and have that heritage that we should all be keeping our eyes peeled for.

Watch out for the ‘vintage’ Harringtons though, as unless they are made by a well known designer or brand, chances are you’ll be getting a cheap knock off. Stick to the originals; Baracuta, Fred Perry, Ben Sherman, Lyle & Scott and you’ll have yourself a timeless and iconic jacket that will last you for years and mark you out as a truly fashionable gent.

Reader Opinion

So let’s get some feedback going:

  • Do we think the Harrington is a viable alternative to the other choices?
  • Can it better that old stalwart – the leather jacket, or can it usurp the young upstart denim jacket?
  • Do we Like the Harrington?
  • How do you wear yours? Or how would you wear one?

Let me know in the comments below.