The enduring appeal of the tailored jacket is clear: clean lines, a strong silhouette and a wealth of fabrics from crisp tropical wool to heavy cashmere. Designs that last for centuries tend to have a lot going for them. Yet, the biggest factor in tailoring’s longevity might be its capacity for slow change: innovations and adaptations that fold new ideas into old ones. Lightening. Softening. Modernizing.
Tailoring has always had seasonal and regional variation, of course, but this spring there are new and resurgent alternatives to the classic tailored jacket. They retain the simplicity, craftsmanship, and care for fine fabrics, while taking cues from vintage workwear and borrowing techniques from knitwear and shirt-making.
While they made their name championing Italian and Japanese suits, The Armoury team has developed several casual jackets. The Arthur’s Standard is the latest evolution of their soft, jersey-knit travel jacket. It’s cut with a slim lapel, two patch pockets on the hips and a four-button front, evoking both mid-century Ivy style and vintage workwear. The springy knitted wool—sourced from a Japanese mill specializing in jersey fabrics—gives the Standard the comfort and versatility of a sweater. When traveling light, it serves double duty: with a button-down shirt and a knit tie, it’s a sport coat; over a thin piece of knitwear, it becomes light spring outerwear.
A warmer-weather, casual option, the three-pocket blouson is a short, unstructured, unlined jacket with patch pockets, a button front and shirt-style collar. The blouson has clear links to another mid-century invention, the bomber jacket, but its details speak to The Armoury’s identity as a modern haberdasher: real horn buttons, traditional Irish linen, and hand-sewn buttonholes. It’s available to buy in sage and can be made to order in brown and tobacco variants.
Increasing appreciation for alternative forms of tailoring might explain the resurgence of an unusual Anglo-Spanish design, the teba jacket. Originally a hunting garment, the teba is halfway between tailored jacket and overshirt, with a shirt sleeve and button front, not unlike a painter’s smock, combined with a notch-less lapel and roomy flap pockets. Advocates such as French boutique Beige Habilleur present the teba not as sportswear but a relaxed, artful blazer alternative. Storied tailor Justo Gimeno of Zaragoza makes models in linen, tweed and cotton twill, available from Beige, Michael Jondral and J. Girdwood. For more spring fabrics, including superb wool/cotton/silk blends, look to made-to-order specialist Lopez Aragon in Toledo.
As well as updating classic designs, tailors are softening current ones. The Anthology has just released the Lazyman jacket to complement its existing bespoke offering. It’s an unstructured piece that’s halfway to a cardigan, with chunky, square pockets, sleeves designed to be rolled up and button tabs to adjust the waist, as on dress trousers. It’s a surprising contrast to the multiple fittings and utter precision of bespoke, but Buzz Tang, the brand’s co-founder, tells me he’d been planning a casual, multifunction jacket from day one. It fills the gap, he says, between classic tailoring and casualwear. There’s a wool herringbone model for winter and seersucker for high summer, but the stand-out piece features a two-tone blue terrycloth and is capable of serving as a travel jacket, sweater and even beachwear.
What if you could keep the essence of classic tailoring—the sense of proportion, simplicity, color and line—and yet reinvent the forms, fabrics and techniques used to achieve it? That’s the promise of Stòffa. The made-to-measure brand has just introduced a limited edition 001 overshirt in suede to accompany its perennial model 006 shirt jacket, available in wool flannel, cotton and silk blends. Agyesh Madan, designer and co-founder, notes that these pieces remove the pressed lapel, and the expectation of a collared shirt under it, providing a versatile alternative to a sport coat with equal elegance. The textile models are sewn, in Italy, like fine tailoring. The suede model uses a special paper-backed underside to remove the need for lining, and is heat-bonded rather than stitched, creating a smooth, draping garment rather than a heavy jacket.
Whether you typically spend the spring in April showers or warmer climes, in a flurry of meetings or easy tranquility, these variations on classic tailoring have much to offer.