When most men hear the word "jacket," the mental image that usually comes to mind is the Harrington. The Harrington jacket is a traditional, lighter-weight men's jacket, typically styled to waist length. It is most often made of cotton, but can also be made of wool, polyester, and leather, amongst other fabrics. The look is further typified by a single-colour exterior, originally in the more subdued blacks, greys, and off-whites. Today, it is common for brighter reds and blues to be worn in more casual settings, as well as an occasional patterned exterior. The lining is traditionally checked or a tartan plaid. The Harrington is a definitively British style and is still manufactured by one of the original Harrington makers.
This guide will present the history of the jacket, along with some of the colourful film characters that have popularised the look throughout the decades. It will discuss the variations available today and some of the advantages of these styles over the originals. This guide will also detail the various fabrics most commonly used for Harringtons. Finally, it will provide information on the best places to locate these jackets and how to navigate the online sources.
History of the Harrington Jacket
A British clothing company named Baracuta first produced the Harrington in 1937. The company continues to make Harringtons, as well as other lines of clothing. One of the defining characteristics of the jacket is the bright plaid/tartan lining. The first lining was based upon the Fraser tartan design, the use for which was granted by 24th Lord Lovat at Beaufort Castle.
Originally known as the "G9," the name Harrington became forever attached to the jacket after the Ryan O'Neal character Rodney Harrington routinely wore it in the U.S. soap opera, Peyton Place, during the 1960s. Prior to this time, the jacket was somewhat obscure, with much of its use relegated to the golf course. The waist cut and informal, yet smart, styling was perfect for the "gentleman's game."
Elvis Presley also famously modelled the Harrington in the 1958 film, King Creole. Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra were other well-known fans that displayed the Harrington in several of their films. Daniel Craig has more recently been wearing the jacket in his James Bond movies, proving that the garment continues to demonstrate a timeless and sensible presence within the notoriously fickle fashion world.
Harrington Jacket Point of Origin
Like most other clothing garments produced today, Harrington jackets with British labels may very well be produced elsewhere. Just keep in mind that the quality of the jacket is in no way diminished as a result of foreign manufacture. The characteristics of the jacket will typically be based upon the standards of the company whose label is affixed to it. In fact, as often as not, the materials, stitching, and general production qualities of garments originating in Asia are equal to those of Europe or the Americas.
Defining Characteristics of a Harrington Jacket
More than any other light jacket over the latter half of the 20th century, the Harrington at once exemplifies classic styling for less formal occasions. It is available in a wide range of prices, depending upon materials used, weather-resistance factors, and general quality. All Harringtons will exhibit several fundamental features.
With rare exceptions, a Harrington will be waist length. The jacket is cut to fit snugly around the waist, with expandable elastic sections either on the sides only or continuously running the entirety of the coat. Typically, the wrists are finished in elastic, as well, to assist in maintaining warmth in windy conditions. The collar is generally worn open, but the jacket will either zip up to the end or provide a button or two for cooler, windy days when wearers want to turn the collar up for protection.
The jacket will usually be of a single colour, with no limit to the possible variations. The colours are typical of those en vogue during the period of manufacture, with blacks and beige as staple hues. There will always be pockets on either side in front, usually with a single button flap to protect any contents.
The remarkable aspect of the Harrington is the enduring nature of such a simple and practical design. Possibly the single most defining characteristic of the jacket is the interior lining. While the interior of the Harrington began as a bright, red plaid, and, even though that remains dominant, it is not unusual to see tighter black-and-white checks, yellow-and-green plaids, and even plain linings, to go with the less common-patterned exteriors. The finished fabric will usually be fleece or flannel, with variations, such as mesh, for warmer weather. Most Harrington fans have more than one to accommodate the temperature variations in most climates.
Harrington Jacket Materials
There are a number of fabric varieties available today that different manufacturers use for different climates and changes in local weather. The advances in waterproof, yet breathable, materials have made their way to the Harrington, along with most other outerwear garments.
Cotton Harrington Jackets
The first fabric used for Harringtons in the 1930s was cotton, and it remains a staple for many producers. The advantages of cotton are well documented. It is warm, breathable, and the most comfortable of all natural fabrics. Cotton is durable and has proven itself time and again in the face of many synthetic developments. For those who demand the original Harrington, cotton is the fabric of choice.
Wool Harrington Jackets
The other natural fabric that figures prominently into Harrington production is wool. While most people typically think of wool as originating from sheep, other animals, such as alpacas and goats, also contribute. The primary advantage of wool Harringtons have is that the fabric is exceptional at retaining body temperature while remaining breathable. Since wool is also a very dense fabric, many are surprised to learn that it also is a superior way to keep heat out. This is quite a benefit when wearing the jacket during periods of blazing sun combined with cooler temperatures.
Leather Harrington Jackets
One of the most attractive variations of the Harrington jacket style is leather. While the great majority of the leather jackets produced are from cowhide, there are also more exotic versions made from alligator, deerskin, and swine, amongst others. Leather is truly the ultimate fashion statement, but is more expensive to maintain and less accommodating to inclement weather. Many of today's leathers are treated to reduce water damage.
Synthetic Harrington Jackets
Today, Harringtons are manufactured of synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, bowing to the demands for less expensive options that are readily available online and in local shops. Besides cost, other advantages to the man-made versions include durability and the long-term retention of colours. The quality of today's synthetics far surpasses that of the past. They are the primary fabrics used for waterproof coatings to create a more flexible outdoor jacket.
Harrington Jacket Care
The care and maintenance of any garment will be greatly determined by the fabric, any waterproof coating, dyes, etc. Always consider these factors prior to purchase. Wools generally require dry cleaning. Cottons that have not been preshrunk have a propensity to shrink the first couple of times they are laundered, and the colours will fade over time. Many people consider that fading to be a plus more than a minus. Most of the waterproof coatings on Harringtons require very specialised care and handling.
Find the Best Harrington Jackets on eBay
When shopping online for any type of Harrington jacket, most people begin their search on the eBay homepage. Just enter the information details for the jacket you are looking for into the field on any eBay page, and click "Search." For example, if you enter "Men's Harrington Jacket" into that search bar, it will take you to a page with those listings. From that point, you may want to tailor your search based upon the style, size, or brand preference. A useful tool that eBay provides is eBay's Search Tips. There, you will find a number of additional searching ideas.
Seller Feedback on eBay
Most regular eBay buyers will take a few minutes to read up on the seller prior to purchasing. All eBay merchants provide feedback from previous buyers, which will give you an indication of how other transactions were completed. Many sellers will display the "Top-rated Seller" ribbon, which indicates they have amassed a favourable selling history over an extended time period. You can also directly contact the seller if you would like additional information from them by simply clicking on that seller's name within the listing.
The Harrington jacket is an enduring piece of traditional clothing that has not only weathered the decades, but also improved significantly along the way. There simply is not a comparable fashion jacket for men that is as cleanly understated nor as practical as a Harrington. With the optional fabrics and styling variations available today, it remains a top seller amongst all age groups in every financial sector.
While many local shops and larger department stores may offer several variations of the Harrington, the only way to truly experience the myriad of choices is to head for the Internet and do some online browsing. There is no single physical shop or even shopping district that can offer the range of choices available to online shoppers. Best of all, the online prices of Harringtons just simply blows away those of local shops offering the exact same merchandise. Those who take a few minutes to look through the online options soon learn that the first and last place to look for these fabulous jackets is the Internet.