In America, we have a sense of style that’s unlike anywhere else in the world. But now that people are attempting to expand past what they can find in their local store, custom and bespoke clothiers are branching out to meet demand. We’ve seen the same revival of old-style with pleated pants and even cuffs to go with them!
A popular addition to this influx of new old-world style is the shooting jacket. This jacket, designed specifically for hunting and other shooting sports, features a leather or suede padded shoulder or shoulders, oversized hand pockets with pleats for expansion to hold shells or cartridges, and gussets across the back to allow an increased range of motion. Additionally, some are made with a waterproof liner and waterproof coating to keep you dry. Most of our shooting jackets are made with Johnstons of Elgin’s incredible tweed cloth with no treatment or waterproof liner. Some even have extra padding on the dominant shoulder to take the brunt of the kick-back from shooting.
As you’ll see in this photo of a shooting jacket we recently finished, it’s unnecessary to have suede shoulder padding if you’re just wearing it for style. Some of the custom shooting jackets we’ve made are even cut entirely from suede. Talk about longevity to go with your style!
THE ORIGIN OF A SHOOTING JACKET
We’ll quickly touch on the believed origins of the shooting jacket, otherwise known as the Norfolk jacket. According to this Wikipedia article, in the early 1800s, Thomas Coke, known as the Coke of Norfolk, invented the shooting jacket for wear during duck hunting events on his large estate. Regardless of how it received the name, all evidence points to its origins in Norfolk.
However, there is evidence that the Rifle Corps of the Volunteer Force in 1859 wore the original shooting jacket and received print coverage in fashion magazines in the same year.
In the late 1800s, the shooting jacket had become a fashion statement with or without a gun. The young and old had adopted it as a staple in their wardrobe for style, comfort, and warmth. As the clock turns over to the more mature early 2000s, we’ve noticed that the custom shooting jacket has made a comeback. So much so that it’s quite literally one of our most discussed topics here at the shop.
We’ve recently enjoyed speaking to a few distinguished gentlemen who belong to a shooting club that meets in South Dakota a few times a year. As the late 1800s gentleman, these are fashion-forward men that love to look good wherever they go. When speaking about our custom shooting jackets, the reply was immediate; “I’ve got to have one!” As you can see, the excitement for something new in a world of “same ole, same ole.” is palpable.
OLD STYLE MADE NEW
So how exactly are you supposed to wear a traditional 1800s jacket in 2020 and beyond? To answer that, we need to analyze the cloth you’d choose to make your new custom sporting jacket. As we said before, our most popular custom shooting jacket cloth is Johnstons of Elgin. Particularly their 100% Pure New Wool collection in 480gms.
So let’s quickly get a little history out of the way.
As their website timeline states, Elgin Mill was first established in 1797 by Alexander Johnston on the river Lossie, where they quickly became known for their Estate Tweeds. This cloth was made famous by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert since everyone loves looking like royalty. In the 1850s, the Elgin Mill began introducing cashmere into their cloth line, giving a soft hand to an otherwise stiffer fabric.
Later on, in 2013, they were granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment to the Duke of Rothesay as manufacturers of Estate Tweed. For those of us in the USA, this means they are recognized as the supplier of Estate Tweeds to the Duke. What does that mean for you? It means that over two centuries of high-quality cloth-making is resting in your hands whenever you feel a swatch in our showroom. When you put on your custom shooting jacket, it means you’re draped in the same luxury that Queens, Princes, and Dukes have worn. How cool is that?
Each of these fabrics we’ve made our custom shooting jackets from feature large windowpanes of varying complementary colors, glen checks in rich shades such as burgundy, brown, and tan, and houndstooth and herringbone in beautiful contrasting, whites, and grays. The builds have been incredibly satisfying to design and make, and the response has been phenomenal.
To speak on what you can wear with these beautiful shooting jackets, you can wear them with any color that exists within the cloth. For example, a small oxblood stripe in your Estate Tweed means that you can wear a gorgeous oxblood trouser or shirt.
THE RIGHT PANTS TO WEAR WITH YOUR SHOOTING JACKET
When selecting the fabric’s weight for your pants, just about anything goes as long as there is no competing pattern. There should never be a fight between your custom shooting jacket and pants. If not worn for actual shooting, your shooting jacket is there as a fashion statement that will stand out in a crowd. Remember your color wheel when matching your clothing, and if there are any questions, you can always call us for advice!
Of course, there is no stipulation that you must use tweed cloth to make your shooting jacket. Some of our clients who would never wear tweed request a slightly thicker merino wool cloth and adore the results.
Remember those oversized pockets we mentioned before? They’re perfect for holding all the modern-day person’s accouterments, such as a phone, wallet, or personal protection equipment like mace or a mask. The shoulders are western without making you a cowboy since there’s a distinct difference between a western yoke and a shooting jacket shoulder. The key takeaway is that during the colder months when everyone else is wearing an overcoat or puffy jacket looking like Donald Duck chasing his nephews, you could be walking around in the elegance, style, and comfort that royalty for centuries has loved.
The shooting jacket is back, and we’re not going to be letting it go for a very long time.