Revenge of the English Shooting Jacket

Here’s something that you may be surprised to see us talking about.  Although, anyone familiar with this blog over the past two years wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us talking about this after we spent multiple pages discussing the history of golf clothes!  Today, we want to talk about that stalwart of the Anglosphere, the English shooting jacket, or coat, if you prefer.

"I'll call it what I want."

“I’ll call it what I want.”

We’ve gone over the history of suits and some of their variations in the past. What’s relevant here is that by the 1800s, the modern “suit” had reached a point where you can easily trace all of the modern variations from it.  Its basic lines were very similar to the lines of today.  But, hilariously, the most common variations of suit jackets, the sport coats, have their origins in English military and hunting culture.  The blazer goes back to the H.M.S. Blazer, and its crew’s attempt in 1837 to impress Queen Victoria, who would be making a surprise visit, on the fly, resulting in a modified uniform that eventually became the blazer.  Meanwhile, the hacking jacket and shooting jackets, slightly more formal in lines than the blazer, birthed the basic sport coat that we think of now.  But, in England especially, the hacking jacket, made of wool or tweed with a single vent for horseback riding, and the shooting jacket, typified by a leather patch on the front shoulder to prevent wear from the butt of a weapon, and also made of wool or tweed, never completely gave way to the modern sport coat, and are still worn to hunt and ride.

241px-1901_Sartorial_Arts_Journal_Fashion_Plate_Men's_Norfolk_Jacket

Norfolk stylin’.

The shooting jacket started life as the Norfolk jacket, a belted, single-breasted jacket with box pleats and a belt.  It was designed specifically so that it would not bind when the elbow was raised by the wearer to fire their weapon, and became popular during the 1860s in the Prince of Wales’ personal circle of hunting pals, eventually spreading to the general populace, as these things often do.  Its basic lines can still be found in military and police uniforms around the world, but it’s rarely seen as a shooting jacket in its own right anymore.

shooteruplandih0Over time, the shooting jacket evolved into what we see today: a jacket similar in lines to other sport coats, but made with a shoulder patch to absorb weapon recoil, and made of stronger materials to withstand rain, burrs and shotgun scorching.  The materials chosen, wool and tweed, are for just that, to withstand the elements.  The lines are what we would, in the present, consider “formal,” because that was the fashion of the Victorian Era that birthed it: formality in all occasions, even the informal.  It is, in many ways, simply a more utilitarian suit jacket.  Larger buttons on the pockets are there to keep them closed, even while running at a clip, so that items won’t fall out, the elbows are fitted for the wearer to allow for easy raising of the arms to aim and shoot, without disrupting the wear of the jacket, et cetera.

While style didn’t truly enter into the equation when they first came into being, now, shooting jackets are a style statement in their own right.  Modern hunters frequently wear clothes designed purely for function, that are sometimes beyond unattractive…

??????????????????

??????????????????

So, some people, including in the US, where the shooting jacket never truly caught on, are going back to the wool and tweed jackets of yore, to hunt in style.

To that end, we’ve jumped into the fray, making our own English shooting jacket for the express purpose of having it auctioned off at a Naples, FL wine festival.  Made of a thick wool tweed with intricate detailing throughout, with upper shoulder and chest patches for resting the gun, and to receive the recoil of a long arm.  The elbow patches are a stylish touch, and also for durability when shooting.  There’s extra tension in the elbow region when positioning oneself to shoot, an inverted pleat down the back, patch pocketing, and a half-belt along the back waist, all adding to the unique look and style of the jacket.  We’re really proud of this one, so take a look at it below!  Hopefully, our minor contribution can help these lovely jackets get a new foothold in the hearts of hunters and shooters in the US.

Ties, Ties, and More Ties

We’ve been off talking about fashion vis-a-vis films, the quirks of football, and so on, for a while.  Well, it’s time to go back to our roots, and talk about the intricacies of one of our favorite subjects: ties!  We’ve been thinking about ties more than usual lately, especially since we’re involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society right now, selling special red ties featuring the LLS’s logo embroidered on the tip at $195 each, with $50 of each sale going back to the LLS.  And they happen to be available right now in both our Long Island and Naples showrooms!  Be sure to drop by and pick one up, or give us a call to order one.

You know why we’re thinking about ties, but what, someone might ask, could one possibly be thinking about ties so much?  Ties are just ties, right?  Well, not really.  Ties are deceptively simple.  After all, it’s just a strip of fabric around your neck.  But there really is no end to the little details and slight alterations to the basic tie formula one can find out there, and believe it or not, the right tie can make a suit, while the wrong tie can completely destroy it.  Let’s go over some of those fine details…

Patterns

cotton-tiesThis is the obvious one.  The first thing you’ll notice on a tie rack, after the colors, are the patterns.  There are an insane number of them, but here are the principal ones…

  • Solids: Versatile and simultaneously daring and conservative.  Dark solids go well with solid suits, patterned jackets, and shirts.  Basically, the go-to tie pattern.
  • Reps or Stripes: Stripes usually show up diagonally, and are pretty much the “safe business tie.”  Order, dependability and trustworthiness are the name of the game here, though boldly colored stripes can be a subtle way of saying “look at me” more strongly.  You can pull one of these off with a striped shirt, but you have to carefully compare the stripe pattern of the shirt with the tie, and make sure they don’t clash.  Shorter people should avoid horizontal stripes at all costs!
  • Checks or Plaids: Usually made of wool, and traditionally seen as casualwear, they go well with tweed or herringbone patterns in flannel or summer jackets.  Plaids are never, ever worn with a pin-striped suit.
  • Foulards or Ivy League: Very popular right now, these ties repeat a small, usually subtle motif of some sort all over the tie, from top to bottom.  From the basic polka dots (the smaller the dot, the more formal the tie) to neat patterns of basic shapes, there’s an endless supply of things one can do here.  They can be formal, casual, and everything in-between, depending on the pattern.
  • Clubs: Associated with particular sports clubs or other associations, these ties feature little golfers, animals, vehicles, shields and swords, and so on.  Really only meant to be worn at a club that matches the theme, unless one is going for some sort of sarcastic irony.
  • Florals and Abstracts: Debonair and stylish, they are not nearly as rigid or formal as the other main patterns . Paisley is a perfect example of a floral that is attractive, daring, and understated and formal at the same time.
  • Neat: Usually small, tight patterns woven into the tie fabric, geometric or otherwise.  A good standard tie to wear when you’re tired of the solids.

When picking a tie for a suit or sport coat, the patterns and the colors are the most important part of the decision.  You want to make sure everything works together.  It doesn’t always have to be a perfect match, but as long as colors and patterns compliment each other, you should be good to go!

With solid suits: it’s almost a free-for-all.  You can bring in almost any tie pattern you’d like here.  You only need to consider what style of shirt to wear with it.  Plain suit?  Easy to pick a tie there, you can wear anything.  Striped?  You want to go with any patterned tie except striped, unless the width of the stripes on the tie is vastly different from the width of the stripes on the shirt.  With pinstriped suits, if you want a striped tie, the width of the stripes on the suit and the tie should never be the same.  Very narrow striped ties will work on a wide, pinstriped suit.  When in doubt, go with any other patterned tie, like neats, paisleys, polka dots, et cetera.  With plaid or window paned suits, you could always go bold with a plaid on plaid tie/suit combo, but this isn’t for everyone.  Stripes will always work with a plaid suit, as well as solids, solid textured ties, or small, neat patterns.

Don’t forget to work patterns with colors!

Widths

mens-skinny-tie1Standard width for ties is 3.5″ (roughly 9cm), and that’s always classic, and will never be out of style.  You can make a small or a big knot with it.  Standard width ties, no matter the type, should always have a dimple formed in the tie just below the knot.  We’re talking about a classic look here, worn with all types of suits, and all body builds.

The skinny tie is more of a fashion trend, and most popularly seen with very slim fitting suits, and very leanly built men.  That is not to say that these suits and men should only use skinny ties.  Rarely will you see a football player wearing a skinny tie.  With skinny knots, you will not get the big double Windsor knot, and most likely will not get a dimple in the tie.  It will just be rounded below the knot.

Colors

google_colors_tie_1-p151183049997960475env51_325The tie’s job is to tie (ha!) all parts of the outfit together.  If you want, though, you can make it more of a statement piece, as long as you don’t look like a refugee from a Tim Burton movie.

johnny-depp-mad-hatter

What happens when you don’t take our advice.

There should be similar, if not the same, coloring of the suit in some part of the tie coloring.  This could be the whole tie, or only small hints. Once you get this, then you want to bring in colors of the shirt, and then any other colors that will compliment the outfit.  For example, a navy suit with a white shirt will look great with a tie that might have navy, blue & yellow coloring, or navy & lavender coloring.  If you want more of a bold fashion look, go with a color that compliments the suit color, but doesn’t have any of the suit coloring in it.  We at Joseph’s don’t favor a tie that matches the shirt, and has none of the suit coloring in it.

Length

long-tied-necktieAfter tying the knot, the tip of the tie should come to the middle of your belt buckle.  Guys 6’2″ and over might want to look into extra long ties.

Pocket Squares

Howtofoldpocketsquare-fOur advice on pocket squares is to match the shirt, OR bring in tons of complimentary colors that will create a distinctive look with the outfit.  Most men match their pocket square with their tie pattern.  We do not do this, and don’t recommend it!

Bowties

11.5.12-Menswear-Monday-5

Bowties are a great look with a suit, a sport coat, or a tuxedo.  Mostly seen worn with tuxes, lately, fashion trends call for bowties with everything.  All different shapes, sizes and patterns.  The same rules apply with bowties that apply with ties.

To wrap all of this information up, our founder and owner, Joey Wendt, had this to say on the subject: “Never underestimate the power that a tie or bowtie can have on an outfit.  Have some fun, go bold, and make what may be a conservative look stand out.  Your standard navy pinstripe suit, white shirt, and navy diagonal striped tie don’t get noticed.”

These rules are simply what have been the standards for some time, but that’s not to say that ties can’t be used as a fun expression of one’s personality and style.  Whether you go for a bold or a conservative style, have fun with your tie selection.  Ties are an intricate part of pulling an entire outfit together, and definitely do not go unnoticed if you do it right!

A White Canvas

These are classic pieces.  Completely trend-free, definitely part of your sartorial foundation.  But why are they so frowned upon?  We are talking about whites, beiges and that entire neutral spectrum on the lighter side.

So, the next time you think of these lighter shades of neutrals as plain and boring or too complicated, think again.  You might be just experiencing a lot of creativity.  Neutrals are to a sartorial guy what a white canvas is for a painter.  Are they complicated?  No way, neutrals are the easiest way, not just to put together, but to acquire that super chic look all year-round.  If you’re still not convinced, think of those bright colors and hard-to-do accessories, which is exactly what neutrals are for.

Can you think of a style icon that is known for wearing loads of color?  If you were told to go to your closet and assemble your coolest outfit, would it be colorful?  Is “effortless” the reason why we love it?  Dress in shades of neutrals.  It may not be a dynamic look, but it is sophisticated.

Start by mixing your neutrals: for example, the darker ones with the lighter ones and then move up to different shades of one color, then, finally, add texture to that mix.  Hopefully by summer, you’ll be ready for that super stylish white suit.

Don’t be afraid, here are some good tips on wearing neutrals.

Keep your whites spotless and in good condition (skip the trip to the dry cleaners when possible, this just adds to the yellowish look and obviously shortens the life of your garment).  We prefer hand washing.

If you’re wearing more than one item that’s the same color, make sure they are either exactly the same color, or clearly different shades of the same color.  Nearly the same but not quite is not a good look, as it looks like you’ve tried to match exactly and failed.

Since neutrals are soft and easy on the eyes, all-neutral ensembles can read a bit bland.  A great way to spice ‘em up is to add a variety of textures: leather, wool, tweed, rough linen, smooth cotton.  Pieces with pick-stitching and other 3D detailing also add textural interest.

And finally, it can be messy out there.  This is magical and worth keeping in your bag at all times: a Tide pen!