Archive - December, 2012

The Sport Jacket

What is the well-dressed man wearing today?

On the streets of New York today, increasingly you see men wearing something different from a worsted wool, tailored two-button coat with well-turned lapel. Instead you find weather-resistant jackets deriving inspiration from diverse sources – military, mountaineering, and cycling.

First, the urbane man lost the necktie. Next, he shed the sport coat. The well-dressed man’s windproof zippered jacket speaks not of adherence to royal and ancient country club rules, but of working-class insouciance, big-city nonchalance, and no-nonsense practicality, men’s simple fashion Instead of a suit coat, the modern man chooses technical outerwear.

To those interested in the history of fashion, mention must be made that, like so may other fashions originating as actual sportswear, the modern suit jacket originated as a hunting coat for riding to the hounds. The seat vent allows the jacket to drape elegantly astride the saddle.

Most sport jackets today appear to have devolved from military uniforms, specifically the flight jacket and the motorcycle jacket.

Even on beautiful autumn days when air is crisp and leaves are turning, Mr. Henry does not ride motorcycles. Consequently he finds the motorcycle jacket to be an unnecessary accoutrement.

With extra zippers, extra belts, and metal studs, the motorcycle jacket strikes an aggressive, predatory pose. Its ethos of violence is sartorial overkill.

Though the wearer may think he is saying, “I am Marlon Brando as Johnny in The Wild One.”

In fact he says, “I flunked the entrance exam for the Highway Patrol.”