Wardrobe Essentials: The Harrington Jacket

The SS13 menswear shows at London Fashion Week saw a revival of classic men’s outerwear, heavily influenced by sixties style and Mod culture. The Harrington jacket popularised by American icons such as James Dean and Steve McQueen were absorbed into the Mod uniform in the 1960s. This style has appeared on the catwalks of Margaret Howell, Nicole Farhi and Pringles of Scotland.

Historically Harrington

British clothing companies Grenfell and Baracuta made the first Harrington style jackets in the 1930s. In fact Baracuta still make the same model, the G9 which was popularised by Elvis Presley when he wore it in his 1958 movie ‘King Creole’. This particular style of jacket earned the nickname Harrington because the character Rodney Harrington played by Ryan O’Neal in the 1960s soap opera ‘Peyton Place’ wore it.

Harrington 1

This jacket became fashionable in the UK in the 1960s among sub cultures such as mods and skinheads. Popularity returned in the late 1970s and early 1980s with skinheads again and mod revivalists as well as scooter boys. In addition to Baracuta, other companies that have made Harrington Jackets include: Yves Saint Lauren, Ralph Lauren, Ben Sherman and many more. Thus proving that the popularity and cultural significance of the Harrington Jacket, remains as reinforced as when they first made an appearance into fashion culture.


The Harrington is the most perfectly lightweight jacket when it comes to suiting it to any occasion. As a bonus, if you perfect how you layer your outfit, this jacket will transition from spring all the way through to autumn. The versatility means that where possible, you should allow justification of spending that little extra when you come to buy one. The revival of retro brands such as Fred Perry and Ben Sherman, and the translation of this jacket by various high street brands allows for a fantastic array of options to choose from.

Harrington 2

Things to think about

  • The fit is vital; the body is always cut short in relation to chest size and arms, which is intentional because the design is based on the original from 60s. Always aim for a slim but not too tight fit to give a leaner silhouette.
  • The waistband must sit on your belt; above and it’s too small, if it hangs below your belt then you need to select a size smaller. The cuffs should finish on the wrist, as with the waistband not above or below.
  • There are lightweight and padded versions of these jackets, so you are pretty much covered when the weather decides to spontaneously change season. It’s basically down to personal preference, but it is recommended to go with the lightweight option. This means you are more likely to get more wear out of it, therefore making it an investment piece.
  • Try to avoid garish patterns, this style is never a good look and makes it difficult to co-ordinate an entire look. The best colours to go for are black, navy or beige. These versions suit everyone and will never go out of date, and are the easiest when putting together a cohesive outfit. There is the option of going for a bold colour like James Dean wore in Rebel without a Cause. This is down to what you feel reflects your own personal style.
  • Where possible, select a Harrington made from 100% cotton, as cheaper synthetic versions have the increased likelihood of causing excessive perspiration. And no one likes a sweaty date. If you must go for a cheaper alternative, make sure you lay it on thick with antiperspirant before you even think of stepping out your front door.

Get the Look

There are a number of ways the Harrington jacket can be incorporated into an outfit; that’s why it wins hands down in terms of versatility. Here are a few ideas on how to work this jacket into your own style.

Harrington 3

Cool and Casual

If we look back to James Dean and Steve McQueen, we see how cool and easy the look can be put together. Styling is minimal and slick with the use of simple t-shirts, Jeans and boots to recreate this look.

stratford windbreakerapc harrington jacket

garment dyed harringtonlight brown twill jacket

talwin crew tshirtblue burnout tshirt

mid wash slim jeansslim fit denim jeans

hazard bootsmyth black leather

Varsity & Preppy

If you’re looking to maintain the look of a chic geek, then there is a way to make the Harrington jacket work for you. Polo shirts and bow ties are a good way to bring out your inner nerd yet still looking fashionable at the same time. Pair this look with some shorts and boat shoes to complete this trend.

windcheater jacketred preppy harrington

wolpert cotton bombercotton canvas jacket

pima polo shirtpique polo shirt

lanvin chino sportspreston chino sports

check cotton bow tiesilk twill bow tie

mens nautilus shoescup sole shoes

Smart and Slick

If sophistication is your chosen method of styling, then you are still able to keep rocking your shirts and ties. It may not sound like it could work, but it actually does. A statement Harrington goes well with smart wear paired with sophisticated footwear and a scarf casually draped around your neck.

black nylon jacketblend bomber jacket

weeds harrington jacketred harrington jacket

white smart shirtsatin stripe shirts

harumi trouserblue slim fit chinos

textured woven silk tiegainsborough wool tie

burnished leather broguesmerton oxford shoes


So hopefully you now have a better idea of how one single item can translate into a number of different looks. With any iconic piece of fashion, it’s only right that we all have a chance to work the look. The Harrington jacket is something that can be seamlessly integrated into anyone’s wardrobe, and the amount of style options and choices is practically limitless. All you have to do now is select the right kind of Harrington to suit your style. There are without a doubt more ways to wear this jacket than mentioned in this article. We would love to know if you have purchased one of these fine jackets and where from. If you can think of or know of more options and style choices, let us know in the comments below.