I go through phases where I obsess over certain items, and find myself collecting several of these items in a variety of color or material variations, etc. Lately I’ve had a lot of time at home to simply think about things, and have obsessed over several different items including panama hats, driving loafers, colorful chinos, and chore jackets.
The chore jacket first appeared in late nineteenth century France. As a tough piece of outerwear made from durable cotton drill or moleskin, the chore jacket (or coat) was perfect for the tough physical work of laborers, railroad workers, and farmers, thanks to its loose fit that made it easy to throw over a set of overalls. It is traditionally styled with a single breast patch pocket and two hip patch pockets, plus one or more interior patch pockets. Over the past few years, they’ve enjoyed a fashionable resurgence with versions appearing from Drake’s, J.Crew and its’ sub-brand Wallace & Barnes (see above), Bonobos, Alex Mill, and Taylor Stitch, to name just a few. The overall style among the brands remains constant with variations in color, pattern, fabric, and degree of casual vs. dressiness. I would never substitute a sports jacket or suit with a chore jacket for a formal occasion, but have worn them for many a casual gathering over the past year or so.
It’s actually a perfect jacket for all seasons as it can be worn as a mid layer in winter, or as a piece of lightweight outerwear on cool summer mornings or evenings. I currently own two, and have been thinking about a third. The first one I bought is a linen blend from Wallace & Barnes in olive green that I picked up on eBay last spring. I was back in New York last summer during the Bonobos sample sale, and picked up my second in navy cotton at a fantastic price. The styling is atypical of the traditional pocket styling using double flap breast pockets, and slash hip pockets, but it’s still very functional.
Can one have too many of a certain clothing item? Of course! Normally, I would say that three or more jackets in any style is too many. But, if we wear them all on a regular basis, aren’t we getting our money’s worth? It’s quite tempting today to pull the trigger on this French Blue version from Wallace & Barnes with J.Crew having yet another high percentage sale. Normally priced at $168, it’s down to $109 today with a 35% discount. I could buy it today or wait for J.Crew to have an even deeper discount, which these days we know is just around the corner. Or I can wait for the obsession to pass. Which it may not. This one’s been lingering for a while. Decisions, decisions…