The Best Outerwear

The Harrington Jacket Is Still the King of Spring Jackets

The British outerwear staple remains one of the best lightweight jackets around. Here are eight options to consider.

Originally Published: 
Men wearing Harrington Jackets during the spring.

When you wear a Harrington jacket, what you’re actually wearing is history. You can trace that heritage from Britain, where outerwear brand Baracuta started making a lightweight zip-front jacket with a stand-up collar in the 1930s, to the big screen where it was a favorite of James Dean and Steve McQueen. Today, the stylish, souped-up jacket is still one of the best pieces of lightweight outerwear around.

Originally known as the G9 when first designed by Baracuta, the cotton windbreaker was a standout from the start. But it became a distinctly British piece of clothing thanks to the red tartan lining. With that collar, side-flap hip pockets, raglan sleeves for ease of movement, and a well-fitting ribbed waist and cuffs, it’s got both heritage and useful design details in spades – especially for spring.

The Harrington jacket is actually a nickname that stuck around. Legend has it that the “Harrington” moniker caught on thanks to London’s Ivy Clothier, who displayed the G9 Baracuta in a window alongside a card famously calling it the “Rodney Harrington style.” It was a nod to actor Ryan O’Neal’s Baracuta-wearing character in 1960s TV show Peyton Place. Through the years, everyone from mods to punk rockers to McQueen, Elvis, and even James Bond – in 2008’s Quantum of Solace – has made the Harrington jacket their own.

Beyond the jacket’s interesting history, it’s just a damn good shoulder season jacket. The exterior, usually made of a durable-yet-not-stuffy cotton-poly blend, helps it feel like a more kitted-out version of a lightweight windbreaker, while the collar (plus waist and wrist cuffs) ensure a fit that fights wind and rain. It’s casual enough to wear over a t-shirt, yet you can also channel McQueen with a merino turtleneck or an Oxford shirt. The combinations are pretty much endless.

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