Now the British summertime is beginning to ease off on it’s few weeks of burn, it’s a great opportunity to start getting out the lighter weight jackets. Today, I’d like to talk about a long time personal favourite – the denim Chore Jacket!
A staple for any mans wardrobe.
This is one of the items that I have always had in my wardrobe in some form or another over the years. I personally view them as important and versatile as the humble blue jeans, from the oversized Carhartt jackets I rocked in the 90’s to the rare Lee one I’ve had since 2004, they are always somewhere nearby.
Today, I’d like to focus on a few that I’ve got hold of over the last couple of years by a favourite brand of mine – RRL.
I’ve managed to acquire several in most of the different, classic denims – hickory, wabash, herringbone chevron and traditional plain blue with corduroy collar.
Sounds expensive? Well, yes it does but as with most of my wardrobe, with only a few exceptions, it’s all either vintage, pre-worn or nearly new from online auction sites.
With a bit of savvy, cunning and lemon on your Germans (lemon & lime = time, German bands = hands for those of us outside London town) bargains can be found and with the budget restraints I have in place, I have to adhere to them by the book.
Just a note about sizing – as a style, these kind of jackets generally run on the big side so where I am usually large or XL, I’ve stuck to large so they have all been a terrific fit.
CLASSIC CORDUROY COLLAR CHOREThe first jacket I’d like to talk about is the classic blue denim with corduroy collar. This is one of the first Double RL ones I picked up. It has a great shadow plaid lining and the hip pockets are in the perfect placement. This was quite well faded from a sinful amount of washing but condition wise, the jacket’s in great nick. It has the pocket watch hole (if that is what it’s for – feedback welcome here) that I always try to look for when buying a chore jacket, and great quality buttons on the front and cuffs.
RRL EMPIRE WABASH JACKET
Next up is the black Wabash discharge print RRL Empire jacket. Truly, a thing of beauty. I scored this for a great price by taking a risk and it coming off. It had a tiny pinhole that was fraying on the back that I since had seamlessly repaired, again a great fit, fantastic pocket placement with wonderful buttons and a nice sized collar.
On the subject of Wabash, its easy to mistake denim like the Blue Blanket IJJ as wabash when in fact it is more of a pinstripe denim. True Wabash denim is made in one of two ways – either the dots are applied with a starch based resist so that when the blue dye is applied it doesn’t soak in these areas. The other technique is when the denim is coloured and then the pattern is bleached onto the fabric with rollers.
There is some really interesting reading out there on the origins of Wabash with Stifel in West Virginia back in the early 1800s and I urge anyone interested in learning more about Wabash to look at these links:
The mighty Vintage Workwear – a real bible for vintage enthusiasts woth tons of info
The Denimbro site – really useful resources containing a lot of modern heritage brands
Kaufmann Mercantile – an inside out on Stifel by Sonia Abrego
RRL RAILROAD JACKET FARMERS COAT
Anyway, I digress. The third one is the RRL Railroad Jacket. It’s a plain, deep blue with some wear marks and oily effects added to look authentic and vintage. I personally don’t mind these effects if they are done well and most of the time Double RL do it right. There’s also nice detail on the back of the buttons with the ring retainers so they can be changed with ease. Considering these effects and splatters on the jacket, it makes for quite a nice formal piece. The buttons are fantastic. They are all slightly different, heavily marked and a little corroded with old steam trains etched into them, great details.
The only thing with this jacket is the pockets are placed slightly further round to the side making them feel a little awkward to rest hands in naturally, but it’s a great style none the less.
CLASSIC HICKORY STRIPE JACKET
The classic Hickory stripe one I have here again, is greatly constructed with an unusually heavier weight of denim and still in great condition, again all the pocket placements are perfect for my height and size – the stripes are not as trippy on the vision in the flesh but it’s not far off!
HERRINGBONE CHEVRON DENIM CHORE
My personal favourite of the bunch is actually the cheapest one I picked up for $18. It’s the herringbone chevron denim. This is an identical style to the first jacket but uses the different fabric and doesn’t have the corduroy collar. Buttons, pocket placement and everything else remains the same.
Again, it’s been heavily washed so it’s faded to a very pale blue but the chevrons are still visible and they add a truly unique look and texture to the denim that I find really hard to beat and because of it’s colour, it’s very versatile.
If another comes up I’ll snap it right up!!!
If you’ve been thinking of buying a chore jacket hopefully, this article will have helped with a few small pointers. They are so practical in the warmer climates as they are mostly a single layer but roomy enough to stack underneath in the chilly months and always look great with jeans so the ‘Canadian Tuxedo’ will be working for you there.
If you would like more info on any of the fabrics mentioned, sizing or fits then don’t hesitate to get in touch, oh, and have a read up on the wabash denim techniques through the links, it makes for some really interesting reading!
Cheers, stay true and blue!