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.
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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Here it is: The original and perhaps the best. Still known as the G9 Jacket after all these years, there’s no more authentic Harrington jacket on the market. The crisp navy color and red tartan lining are mainstays in this iconic design, but the cotton-poly exterior and a cotton-poly blend lining offer lightweight comfort and spring-ready performance. As you make your selection, note the two-way zipper (to dial in your fit) and keep in mind that the jacket comes in chest sizes for a more snug feel, reminiscent of the 1950s design.
It makes sense that other British brands would offer up their own take on the Harrington jacket – it’s the perfect jacket when brisk winds and rain start to pick up, after all. Ben Sherman goes the performance route with a 100 percent nylon exterior, lined with cotton in a slightly different red-and-blue tartan check design. They’ve also placed a small chest logo on the left side, all the better to show off your preferred jacket maker. And while the Harrington jacket is probably most commonly found in navy, you can get a bit bolder with colors like a heightened blue or even dark green.
In keeping with its road-ready heritage of making tough jackets for riders and drivers of all sorts, Barbour has spruced up the Harrington jacket in a few key ways. The quilted stitching adds durability throughout the jacket (not to mention a seriously cool look). The fit is snug and hits at your hip, making this jacket one you can rock on its own or even as a mid-layer beneath a waxed field jacket. The oversized circle zipper is easily accessible – no matter where you go.
The Harrington jacket of days gone by gets a fittingly 21st-century revamp in the name of sustainability. It’s what Tentree is all about (they plant 10 trees with every purchase) so with this number, they’ve used a blend of 97 percent organic cotton and 3 percent elastane. The combo feels soft on your skin, like wearing a stretch hoodie as opposed to a spring jacket. The fold-over collar is a change of pace from other Harrington jackets, as are the snap-closure cuffs. Think of this as the most casual version of the jacket you can find.
The versatile sensibility of the Harrington Jacket (dress it up or down!) is pretty similar to a pair of hard-working chinos. So it makes sense that Bonobos, a brand that made its name on chinos, has a version. They put their own spin on the silhouette, with color options like Cool Blue and Baked Apple. But its specs, be it the warm quilted lining or the water-resistant 60 percent cotton-40 percent nylon blend, really shine through. Button hip pockets keep your EDC valuables in place on the go, too.
Just like the term “made in the U.S.A.” denotes greater care, attention to detail and quality, “Made in England” signifies a similar commitment to heritage and old-school design. In the case of this Fred Perry Harrington jacket, it also means a heftier price — but it’s worth the extra cash. You’re getting all the best Harrington jacket specs, from the red tartan lining to the wear-with-anything navy cotton-poly exterior, plus a ribbed waist and cuffs. More importantly, you’re getting a little something extra with this jacket: The knowledge that it’s the same groundbreaking style worn by Mods in the ‘60s and made true to form in the year 2022. Wear it with pride.
If ever there were a Harrington jacket you could wear like a blazer, this is the one. The slim fit makes it as eye-catching as a tailored suit, but the use of Italian wool in a unique shade of dark brown really takes things to the next level. Button wrist cuffs add an air of tailored quality, while the elastic waist ensures a snug, streamlined fit.
If you want a sleek jacket you can throw on with black or grey jeans without thinking, consider this subtly stylish, 100 percent Turkish cotton number. It should prove ultra-soft, almost more like a traditional track jacket than a cotton or nylon wind jacket. Wear it with a graphic tee and stylish sweatpants for laid back weekend lounging.
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