Want to learn more about the Harrington jacket? From history to styling, everything you need to know is here.
I’ve heard the Harrington jacket referred to as England’s answer to the New York motorcycle jacket. And in the sense that it has utilitarian roots and always adds a cool factor to outfits, I get it.
As much as I love a good leather moto jacket, though, I think the Harrington is more nuanced and dimensional.
A Harrington can blend in with more personal styles. It’s been worn by men of every class, from elites to rebels, and isn’t particularly associated with one set or another.
If you’re a man remotely interested in style, you should probably know a thing or two about this important piece of outerwear.
Why (and how) have so many diverse style icons made it their own? Do you need one in your closet? And most importantly, if you’re new to it, what exactly is a Harrington jacket?
What Is a Harrington Style Jacket
A Harrington is a lightweight, waist-length jacket with a zip-up front that’s usually two-way, a two-button stand-up collar, and two slanted flap pockets. It can be made out of cotton, wool, polyester, or suede, has a tartan or checkerboard lining, and may feature ribbed trims at the cuff and the hem.
Originally called a Baracuta G9 jacket, it’s still additionally referred to as a Baracuta or a G9, though Harrington has taken over as the more common name.
Because of its pragmatic, simplistic, and mostly matte aesthetic, it’s a versatile jacket that you can wear with dress pants, jeans, and even cargo pants. It looks like a bomber jacket, though the Harrington’s straight fit and collar (in place of ribbing) offers cleaner lines and a more close-to-body architecture.
Another reason it adapts to so many personal styles is its history and cultural associations. Let’s learn why it’s one of the world’s most iconic jackets before going into some styling options and worthwhile brands.
Trust me, the history will give context to the style tips.
The Harrington: A Brief History
The Baracuta brand came to be in 1930s Manchester, founded by brothers John and Isaac Miller, who were already raincoat manufacturers for English brands like Burberry. The brothers became wildly successful, joined the town’s elite golf club, and developed the G9 as a waterproof golf jacket.
Another company, Burnley-based Grenfell, also claims to have invented an identical golfing jacket, though lore has favored Baracuta. It might be because of their famous G9 interior fabric.
The signature tartan on the inside of the jacket comes from the Fraser Clan of the Scottish Highlands. In fact, the Millers got direct permission from Lord Lovat of the clan to use it. Since Lovat was a war hero, this gave the jacket a sense of aristocracy and military might, on top of its unique combination of working class yet country club origins.
Baracuta started sending the jackets to the US. In addition to being popular with the golfing set there, varying from Bing Crosby to President Reagan, US servicemen started wearing G9s as an alternative to heavier bomber jackets.
James Dean famously wore a red Harrington in 1956’s Rebel Without a Cause. However, a US competitor to Baracuta called McGregor manufactured this iconic jacket. Elvis Presley also wore one in 1958’s King Creole, which sparked a trend that never really went away.
It would take an inordinate amount of time to name every single style icon who wore this jacket, but some include Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, and Arnold Palmer. Despite these big names, it was Rodney Harrington, a character in the ‘60s soap opera Peyton Place, that the jacket got its name. Viewers could often see this character in a G9 jacket.
Suffice it to say, every subculture got their hands on the Harrington, each styling it uniquely and making it their own. I’m talking about everyone from preppies to British Mods and 1980s counterculture to Japanese golfers who referred to it as a swing jacket.
How To Wear Harrington Jackets
The truth is that there’s no wrong way to wear a Harrington. It’s a casual jacket at its core but it is somewhat formal-learning as well with its clean lines and structured architecture. It brings a full suit-and-tie combination down to earth while elevating a simple t-shirt and jeans.
A natural context for a Harrington is in a casual yet refined outfit that incorporates equally pragmatic and straight-lined pieces. Slim, but not skinny, chinos, leather
Go for lighter, more traditional versions during the spring and cooler summer nights. In the colder seasons, you can opt for beautifully textured wool versions. Go for forest tones and browns in the fall, like this Brown Club Check Harrington from Bonobos, and darker shades or cooler tones in the winter, like this Peter Christian Harris Tweed Jacket in navy.
Remember that almost every men’s style icon has worn the Harrington.
Another great way to see how to style this famous jacket is by looking at these men. Whose style is a relatively good match to yours, or who do you want to emulate? Or even, who do you feel like today?
Do you love a rocker vibe or even just a super casual look? Liam Gallagher has worn G9s with black jeans, a t-shirt, and a scarf and sometimes goes for oversized jacket versions.
Want something more refined but still effortlessly cool? I’ve always loved the way Steve McQueen wore his blue Harrington with a textured, velvety pullover and khakis in the Thomas Crown Affair. I think swapping the pullover for a cashmere turtleneck would have a similar effect.
Or, dress it up even more by wearing it in lieu of a tailored jacket. Combine a Harrington with a pair of grey flannel trousers, a white shirt, and a tie for a cozy, yet buttoned-up look.
Just do some Googling, and you’ll find a way to style the Harrington that suits you.
Best Harrington Jacket Brands
Since Harrington jackets are classics, most heritage brands from the US and England will have a decent version of it.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with the original Baracuta G9 Jacket. It’s still around today and comes in all standard colorways, from green to khaki. Places like Huckberry or Mr. Porter often offer it in colorways beyond that, including a very James Dean-esque red-toned version.
Naturally, Ralph Lauren’s Harrington is classic and adaptable and features a polo pony on the chest.
I also like Brooks Brothers’ Harrington because it’s clean, extra durable thanks to the added nylon, and comes in a fun medium blue colorway that really pops.
Speaking of color pops, Todd Snyder is in the Harrington game, too. The lively Seersucker Knit Jacket is perfect for spring and summer.
The Pangaia jacket doesn’t have a stand-up collar, but it has the same visual impact for the most part. It’s made of organic cotton and lined with regenerated fiber from recycled cotton waste.
So, to wrap up, here are some of the best Harrington jacket brands:
- Ralph Lauren
- Brooks Brothers
- Fred Perry
- Peter Christian
- Spier & Mackay
- J. Press
- Todd Snyder
- Spirit of England
If you’re looking for quick answers to commonly asked questions about the Harrington jacket, here they are!
Why Is It Called a Harrington Jacket?
The character Rodney Harrington from the ‘60s soap opera Peyton Place wore this style of jacket consistently, earning it the nickname that eventually became its main name.
What Is the Difference Between a Harrington Jacket and a Bomber Jacket?
A bomber jacket is looser-fitting, often thicker, and has a ribbed collar instead of a stand-up button collar. A Harrington is an overall more clean-lined jacket.
Are Harrington Jackets Smart or Casual?
Harrington jackets are mostly casual but can easily be worn with a suit thanks to its well-structured build and straight-lined silhouette.
The Harrington: An Elevated Alternative to the Bomber
As someone who prefers straight lines in my tailoring, I actually like Harringtons more than I do bombers. I just don’t love puffiness in my clothing.
It’s worth reiterating that there’s basically no wrong way to style a Harrington, which makes it sort of a cheat code to good fashion. There’s just something about it that looks intentional.
Plus, its simple yet multifaceted look taps into whatever vibe the rest of the outfit is going for. I guess that’s why it appealed to such a wide range of types.
The bomber or the Harrington, which do you prefer? Leave a comment and let me know!