For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a proper tweed jacket. Not one of those thin looks-like-tweed jackets that you typically find in the shops, more a blazer than a jacket, and certainly not for wearing outdoors, but a rugged, thick and proper jacket. Every time I’d see something tweed-like, I’d feel it, and every time it was too thin. Until the day I found a jacket in the local Salvation Army shop. Tweed and thick. Harris Tweed. Of course, it was way too large, and even the attentions of the local tailor couldn’t hide the fact that this one would never really work for me.
The seed was sown though, and with renewed vigour the search was on for a proper tweed jacket, in a size that would fit me. And hence I found today’s featured jacket, the Mallory jacket by Nigel Cabourn. I’ve written up a history of the Mallory jacket previously (read it here), so only a brief summary of the inspiration for it: George Mallory was a British adventurer that tried to conquer Mount Everest back in 1924, wearing mostly tweed. This jacket is very much inspired by the jackets Mallory and his sherpa wore on the expedition. Design cues such as the Ventile on the shoulders and elbows, and the bellows pockets on the front can be seen on their expedition clothing.
So, Harris Tweed, I’ve done a post on this before as well, so I’ll not repeat myself, if you’re curious, read about it here. The pattern we see here is described as Army Stripes and has a strangely three dimensional look to it. From a distance the tweed looks almost like knitted wool, which gives a decidedly odd impression. Up close though it has the rich variation of colours you expect from Harris Tweed.
3 pockets on the outside, the two roomy bellows pockets and a single chest pocket. Spacious and deep, so handy for a small wallet, phone and a pair of leather gloves. Inside there is a whopping 4 pockets. Two on the left side of the chest, one regular and one ticket size. One on the right side. And one “secret” pocket on the inside of the rear vent, with a button flap. For those secret spy papers, squire.
Of special note on this jacket is that it has the Harris Tweed Centenary label, celebrating 100 years of the Orb symbol. The Orb symbol is the trade mark of Harris Tweed and “means a tweed, hand-spun, hand-woven and dyed by the crofters and cottars in the Outer Hebrides.”
The front has four buttons. The bottom one is so high up that I tend to button it, going against conventional wisdom that says it should be left undone. The top one only comes into it’s right when the jacket is fully done up, when you can also use the throat latch, which comes into it’s right when the jacket has all four buttons done up. Do up the latch and the wool will keep you warm all the way up to your chin. I’ve been meaning to adjust the buttons on my latch, as unfortunately they’re set for a much slimmer neck than I have. The lack of latch utility still doesn’t stop me from using the jacket for cycling down to around -10 or even -15C, depending on what I wear under. The lining is of a pleasant grade of cotton fabric and does help keep the wind out.
The sleeves have proper working cuffs, with 4 buttons. All the buttons are proper horn buttons. A nice touch these days were it’s easy to skimp on the details. And of course, the fact that it is made in England is proudly flagged.
All in all, a jacket I’ve been very happy with the past year or so and have worn a lot. Perfect for dry days of middling to cold temperature. Excellent for cycling or walking. Not so good on the days where it’s damp or raining, and wool tweed is neither water proof or nice smelling when damp.
Nigel Cabourn does a few variations of the Mallory jacket each season. This is one of the AW12 versions, not available in this tweed for AW13.