A Safari Jacket in Waiting

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It’s been the dog days of summer for much of the US, but here in San Francisco, the weather has been remarkably mild. I’m actually a bit disappointed by it since I’ve been wanting an excuse to wear this linen safari jacket I got from Ascot Chang last year. It started off as the first piece in my shirt jacket project, but after changing the design from a shirt collar (self-explanatory) to a Ghillie collar (what you see above), I realized I no longer had a shirt jacket on my hands, but rather a safari one.

Safari jackets became part of sporting wear during the late 19th-century, when Westerners went to Africa for safari tours and big game hunting. Since then, they’ve cycled in and out of fashion. The height of their glamour was probably around the mid-20th century, when they became associated with Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable, and James Bond. Then, in 1968, they became a bit more chic after they appeared in one of Yves Saint Lauren’s runway shows as part of his ”Saharienne” collection. The jacket died off for a little while after that, only to then be revived ten years later as a staple piece in the original incarnation of Banana Republic (back when they were a high-end, tropically-themed outfitter, rather than just a run-of-the-mill mall brand).

The one I have from is made from a slightly heavier weight, mid-blue linen by Solbiati. There are two symmetrically placed chest pockets (button flapped) and two larger patch pockets at the hips (bellowed). The back has a half belt, single vent, and an inverted box pleat to allow for greater movement in the arms. The sleeves have shirt cuffs, the buttons are dark brown horn, and the corners of the pocket flaps are fitted with small snaps, so that they can be secured down when necessary (I was afraid that the linen would curl over time). 

I really like how it turned out, and was impressed by Ascot Chang’s price. They only charged me what three or four of their basic shirts would have cost, which is much less than the other two tailors I approached, who quoted me the same as a bespoke sport coat. With the Ascot Chang price came one fitting. 

Still, the weather hasn’t been hot enough for me to wear this more than three or four times, so I’m not completely sure how useful it is. In my head, I imagine this as a nice, casual alternative to a sport coat. If I actually get some regular wear out of it, I’m thinking of having a few more made. Fox Brothers just re-introduced a cotton serge they originally made in 1900. Somewhat inspired by these photos of Will, I’m thinking of having a fully belted safari jacket made from that, or for something less “safari looking,” maybe a cigar linen design using something W. Bill’s vaults. A tweed or moleskin version might also be interesting for fall/ winter purposes, but first I have to wear this blue linen one.


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  5. blancnoirdesign said: Quite a beatiful piece; and the colour….well….navy says more than any other colour to me. Nice post!
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