The Ultimate Guide To Men’s Harrington Jackets
It’s the jacket of choice for countless cool subcultures. Find out why in our expert guide to the Harrington.
What does it take for an item of clothing to reach icon status? Well, it should have trend-proof staying power for one. It should be popular with multiple style tribes and subcultures. And it should, at once, be attainable while still feeling like something exclusive. The Harrington jacket passes each test with ease.
A casual, easy wearing style that’s been around since the 1930s, it was worn by everyone from James Dean, Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen and adopted by style tribes as diverse as skinheads and preppy dressers, mods and the workwear crowd.
The Harrington is a chameleon of a jacket, leaning tailored and classy when it’s worn with chinos and a well-pressed button-up. Then, team it with a wide pair of trousers and an oversized tee and it transforms into something much more casual.
As well as being versatile, it’s comfortable. Lightweight and easy to layer, the best Harrington jackets work as trans-seasonal outerwear pieces that never need to step back from your rotation.
What is a Harrington jacket?
First designed by British label Baracuta, the Harrington jacket is a cropped blouson-style jacket with a number of distinctive features. Raglan shoulders and a roomy body give it similar proportions to a bomber jacket. And like that style, you can get them with ribbed hems or without.
One of the Harrington jacket’s standout details is its funnel collar, which usually comes with a one- or two-button flap at the front. Some brands swap that for a simple flap collar. Whether you think that still counts as a Harrington will depend on how much of a classicist you are.
There are also slanted pockets near the waist (either slit or flap) and ribbed or knitted cuffs. And not every style has this, but the iconic Baracuta G9 is memorable and much-aped for its tartan lining, too.
What to consider when buying a Harrington jacket
The classic Harrington jacket usually comes in some sort of cotton blend, mixing in stretch fabrics or nylon for greater movement or to keep it light. But the style is so well-established that there are plenty of non-traditional materials to look at too.
For extra weather-proofing or durability, check out gabardine or waxed styles. Or, for a little warmth or textural interest, you’ll find wool, corduroy or suede Harringtons in many fall and winter collections.
Because it was originally designed for golf and later adopted for a touch of manual labour, the Harrington is usually a generous fit. The blouson-style body allows movement in a similar way to a classic bomber jacket.
You can find modern styles in straighter, slimmer cuts but for a more interesting silhouette, go classic.
Like a lot of the best coats and jackets for men, the Harrington tends to come in neutral colours more often than not. That’s black, navy, some kind of tan or stone, and maybe a khaki or sage green. It’s a historic jacket style so why not? Those colours will also easily combine with everything you have.
If you want something that makes a statement, shop with more playful labels, who produce Harringtons in pinks, whites, James Dean reds and rich chestnut tones. You’ll also find the odd patterned style, usually some kind of check or tartan.
It’s a time-tested design, so most brands don’t mess with the Harrington. But there are a few deviations and derivations to consider. First, the collar. Yes, the classic funnel neck, upturned with a button closure, is the truest style, but you’ll also find flap-style collars too.
Then you have a choice of ribbed and non-ribbed hems. This mainly affects your silhouette. Ribbed styles fit more like a bomber, non-ribbed more like a coach jacket.
Because it’s a timeless item, the main extras you pay for with the best Harrington jackets are materials, quality of construction and the kudos of historic brand names.
If those things are lower-priority for you, you can pick up a classic-looking Harrington remarkably cheaply.
The best Harrington jacket brands
The Baracuta G9 is the quintessential Harrington jacket, the one that started it all. Developed in 1937 as a jacket for golfers, many of its design touches are there to make a day on the fairway as easy as possible. The raglan shoulder allow plenty of movement, the slanted pockets are Dee enough to hold two golf balls and the yolk on the rear helps rain water run off your back.
Beyond the golf course, this is a genuine icon of menswear that spawned an entire category of jackets. Baracuta today sells Harrington’s in myriad colours and styles from pared-back hues to Madras checks, plus corduroy, suede and quilted versions. Also check out the G4, the G9’s twin, which has an open hem.
Another British label with its own long heritage in luxury outerwear, Burberry turns out some of the best high-end Harrington jackets (albeit usually without the flap on the collar). It’s also a brand strongly associated with Football Casuals – another subculture that embraced the design.
Today, the label’s Harringtons include classic stone colours, baby blues and the famous Burberry check. The luxury touch comes in the form of wool blends, weatherproof features and sublime finishing.
A label inspired and beloved by the mod movement, British scooter gangs and Northern Soul, Ikon’s approach to throwback style is: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For its Harrington jackets, that means very faithful designs, complete with flap pockets and turn-up collars. It also does a wider range of colours than most, with baby blues, bright reds and bottle greens in its line-up.
With prices as low as $XX/£30, Ikon is the place to go for some of the best budget Harrington jackets.
Purveyors of easy-wearing preppy staples, Gant does accessible Ivy League style with plenty of heritage to back it up. Into that mix, the Harrington jacket works as an alternative to something like a letterman jacket.
Gant’s Harringtons are classic, usually rendered in weather-proof cotton and warm wools, but you’ll also find lightweight nylon examples that work well as a spring-summer jacket.
It started life as a tennis label but Fred Perry grew into a counterculture brand, taken to heart by youth movements like the mods in the 60s. Its iconic polo shirt is the style most people think of, but its Harrington jacket is another historic style that also comes with the famous laurel-wreath logo.
In line with the label’s modish history, the Harrington is quite fitted and minimal in staple colours like stone and navy. Pair it with straight jeans, loafers and a white shirt or polo for an evergreen casual look.
Another veteran British label with its roots in mod culture, Ben Sherman has a Harrington for every season with lightweight, cotton and water-resistant versions of the classic design. Its collection also features more brightly coloured options than a lot of others, including rich blues, greens and tans.
It’s a multi-generational design, and won’t have changed much from the one your grandad might have worn. Signature touches include a generous boxy fit and Ben Sherman’s statement check on the lining.
What started in a small Nottingham shop is now a globally recognised luxury label with locations in more than 60 countries. Paul Smith is one of the UK’s best-loved designers and his signature playful style and commitment to quality shines through in his Harrington jackets.
As well as the classic silhouette with in simple black and navy, you’ll find check numbers and styles that subtly break the rules, like replacing the standard zip front with buttons and a hidden placket.
America’s ultimate town-and-country brand, the always-preppy, always-stylish Ralph Lauren obviously has a rich collection of Harrington jackets in its collections. Few brands do casual sophistication as well as Ralph so look out for its elevated touches like breezy linen blends for summer and tougher oilcloth jackets for fall.
You’ll also find Ralph Lauren’s own tartan on the lining and, of course, the famous embroidered pony on the chest.
Marks & Spencer
Some of the best affordable Harrington jackets can be found on the UK high street, at this historic department store. Marks & Spencer has long made its own versions of classic British menswear, and this is no different.
M&S’ version keeps the traditional silhouette, generous proportions and essential design details.
This family-run label creates authentic clothing inspired by the UK’s coolest underground subcultures, and that includes mods and skinheads. So Real Hoxton’s Harrington jackets are the real deal, worn proudly by those style tribes.
Featuring all the classic design details, this collection comes in the widest range of colours we could find. Peach and mint green styles line up next to reversible jackets with bold Madras or Prince of Wales prints. Proof that this evergreen and subtle jacket can also be a showstopper.
Workwear-cum-citywear darlings Carhartt bring a practical edge to the Harrington jacket. The brand’s hardy approach to materials and styling makes for a cropped jacket that works like a zip-up chore jacket. Think durable twill construction and a lined version for the winter.
If you’re not a traditionalist, Carhartt produces a number of silhouettes that you could describe as Harrington-adjacent, too. They let you play with the same cropped, boxy silhouette but with non-traditional touches like corduroy construction or the addition of breast pockets.
Better known for its waxed jackets, Barbour nevertheless applies its outdoor knowhow to some of the best Harrington jackets on the market. Daniel Craig wore one as 007 in Skyfall (2012), and it’s easy to see why the style – with its mix of practicality and easy elegance – works for the world’s most famous spy.
As if that wasn’t a good enough name drop, Barbour also has a Harrington inspired by and named after Steve McQueen (who also wore the brand). The design itself is pretty classic with the zip front, slanted pockets and stand-up collar, even if it’s finished with tough, treated cotton.
British brand Frahm was created with a specific mission: to make better jackets for everyone where every little detail is reconsidered. Its founders felt that tailored jackets were never technical enough and technical jackets were never cool enough. Bringing those values together, its Harrington jackets are timelessly cut but made to last in the outdoors.
Frahm does two kinds of Harrington. One is classic, with all the staple design touches from the rear vent to a tartan lining. Then there’s the Harrington Racer, a sportier version inspired by motorcycling, with lots more design notes, from concealed pockets to an abrasion-resistant waxed finish. Both styles come with a lifetime fault guarantee.
They don’t technically call it a Harrington but the Eisenhower from American workwear label Dickies shows how the classic silhouette can work as something a little rougher and tougher. It’s not exactly a worker jacket but its made from a heavier blend of recycled polyester and cotton compared with a lot of other Harringtons.
It’s also cut more boxy than most, leaning into the brand’s heritage for blue-collar-inspired streetwear. The style comes lined or unlined depending on the season.
Another cornerstone brand of preppy Americana, J.Crew relishes a good Harrington jacket. And its takes can be more playful than brands that just go classic. Check out its twill Harrington in dusky pink or sage green, or one fashioned from a rich and chocolatey Italian suede as proof.
Once regarded as a grown-up Gap, you’ll pay a little more at J.Crew, but you’ll also notice the quality of design and construction.