Barbour Alternatives

Although they’ve become a bit trendy in the last few years, I think there are few better coats for fall than one of Barbour’s waxed cotton jackets. As I mentioned over the weekend, their two most popular models are the Beaufort and Bedale (the Bedale being the shorter of the two). Both have waxed cotton shells, corduroy collars, sewn-in throatlatches, and storm cuffs for added protection against the elements. These look at home in the countryside when you’re out for a stroll, or if you’re in the city going to a flea market. I also just like to wear mine over sweaters whenever the weather is a bit wet and cold.

The problem is that they’re a bit expensive. Full retail runs $375-400, and many people find they have to pay an additional $50-70 to lengthen the sleeves. You can find a second-hand one on eBay for between $150-250, depending on the condition, but sometimes these will come with a musty smell. They can be cleaned, but that service can run you another $75-100, all costs included.

On the upside, there are a number of more affordable alternatives. Here are a few that I found:

  • Orvis: Orvis has a few Barbour-ish looking pieces on sale, including this unwaxed Ventile field jacket, dry waxed canvas field coat, and waxed moto jacket. There are also these dry waxed “heritage” coats, Sandanona jackets, and barn coats (granted, the last one isn’t very Barbour-y, but it’s close enough). Note, Orvis’ outerwear tends to run big, so it might be good to either size down when ordering or stop by your local Orvis shop to try things on first.
  • LL Bean: Like Orvis, LL Bean is another good, classic outfitter for outdoorsmen. One of their most famous garments is their barn coat, and while it’s again not exactly Barbour-ish, it’s somewhat similar. These come in both waxed and unwaxed versions, with the unwaxed one being a bit slimmer fitting (I have one and like it, although I wish it were lined the sleeves). They also have something they call an Upland Field coat, which comes in two versions. This one with orange detailing is on sale.
  • Brooks Brothers: If you’re open to a bit more experimentation, Brooks Brothers has this waxed cotton coat with metal clips.
  • Lands End: Ever the stand-by for affordable clothing, Land’s End has a very Barbour-y looking coat for just under $100. In the past, these fit more like Barbour’s Beaufort than Bedale. 
  • Gap: Gap has a decent looking model this season for $128, though it might be a good idea to stop by one of their stores to first inspect the quality (sources say it’s not actually waxed). They do sales pretty often, so you can probably grab this at 25-50% off if you wait for a coupon code.
  • J Crew: J Crew has a waxed cotton field jacket and barn coat this season. The fabric on the barn coat isn’t as robust as the LL Beans, but on the upside, it fits slimmer than the originals from which it takes inspiration. 
  • Eddie Bauer: Eddie Bauer’s Kettle Mountain StormShed Jacket isn’t inexpensive at $300, but my guess is that you can probably get this at a deep discount if you wait long enough.
  • Filson: This cover cloth weekender coat is unlikely to be discounted much, but it looks nice and Filson’s quality is very good.
  • Debenhams: Savile Row’s Patrick Grant recently did a collaboration line with Debenhams. I haven’t handled any of these pieces, but the Dalston hunting jacket and Renbold quilted jacket (available in olive and navy) look pretty good for the price. Like the ones by Gap, J Crew, and Brooks Brothers, you can expect these to be slim-fitting interpretations of the more utilitarian designs by Barbour, LL Bean, and Orvis.
  • Campbell Cooper: Some of these designs admittedly look a bit iffy, but after some “antiquing,” one StyleForum member made his look pretty good.
  • John Partridge: An old British maker of hunting jackets, only theirs are always made in England (Barbours are sometimes made abroad). The quality is good, but the fit is full. On the upside, you can find these for pretty cheap on eBay. Here are some in navy and brown. You’ll want to get garment measurements before actually ordering. 
  • Hoggs of Fife: Another old British country outfitter. I’m unsure of the sizing, but you can browse some of their jackets at Ardmoor, Scot Web, and Fife Country
Green Corduroys for Fall
I’m personally not one for unusual trousers. Some men can pull off loud colors and vivid patterns with aplomb, but they’re few and far between, and I’m not one of them. The one exception I make, however, are green corduroys in the fall.
If you’re just getting your first pair of corduroys, I recommend ones in a dark shade of russet brown. These can be successfully worn with almost any kind of autumnal clothing you can imagine – grey shawl collar cardigans, green waxed cotton Barbour jackets, navy flannel shirts, and brown suede shoes. They’ll be soft, comfortable, and a touch warm.
If you’re getting your second pair, I recommend wheat. Anything that resembles something like the muted color on your standard pair of chinos to ones that are just a touch more golden. If you hit the right shade, and be sure not to veer into something too yellow, these should be about as easy to wear as your dark brown pair.
Once you’re on your third, however, I suggest considering green - something like British racing green or olive. These are slightly more daring colors, but still feel reasonably conservative. Like dark brown and wheat, green is an earthy color that feels very seasonally appropriate in the fall. I wear mine with navy or grey sweaters, the kind with a very heavy texture such as Shetland or lambswool, or with a gun club sport coat, pale blue oxford cloth shirt, and brown slip on shoes, like you see above.
If you’ve never bought corduroys before, take care in paying attention to the size of the wales. These are the ribs that make up the fabric’s signature texture. Something with thicker, more widely spaced, plush wales will look a bit more old-fashioned; something very fine will look close to velvet. A mid-sized wale is a safe bet, though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wide wales either. Those will look quite comfortable and traditional, and if you don’t wear them in an overly baggy cut, they won’t look too frumpy. My green corduroys are somewhat wide waled, actually, and cut on the fuller side of slim. Corduroys are of course a country garment, but in green I think they’re especially rustic. Country clothes, in my opinion, always look better when they’re cut slightly fuller than city clothes. 
You can pick up decent corduroys at any number of places. Cordings, Pakeman, and Hoggs of Fife have very nice traditionally cut models, while Epaulet’s and Howard Yount’s will run slim. There’s also Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers, who will have different models for different fits. The upside to them is that you’re more likely to live near one of their stores, so you can check out their products in person. However, I’ve also found that the other suppliers are happy to give you measurements if you enquire. 
(As an aside, if you haven’t read Jesse’s address to the Corduroy Appreciation Club, you really ought to read it. It stands out in my mind as one of the funniest clothing-related things I’ve ever come across. Corduroy Now, Corduroy Forever!) 

Green Corduroys for Fall

I’m personally not one for unusual trousers. Some men can pull off loud colors and vivid patterns with aplomb, but they’re few and far between, and I’m not one of them. The one exception I make, however, are green corduroys in the fall.

If you’re just getting your first pair of corduroys, I recommend ones in a dark shade of russet brown. These can be successfully worn with almost any kind of autumnal clothing you can imagine – grey shawl collar cardigans, green waxed cotton Barbour jackets, navy flannel shirts, and brown suede shoes. They’ll be soft, comfortable, and a touch warm.

If you’re getting your second pair, I recommend wheat. Anything that resembles something like the muted color on your standard pair of chinos to ones that are just a touch more golden. If you hit the right shade, and be sure not to veer into something too yellow, these should be about as easy to wear as your dark brown pair.

Once you’re on your third, however, I suggest considering green - something like British racing green or olive. These are slightly more daring colors, but still feel reasonably conservative. Like dark brown and wheat, green is an earthy color that feels very seasonally appropriate in the fall. I wear mine with navy or grey sweaters, the kind with a very heavy texture such as Shetland or lambswool, or with a gun club sport coat, pale blue oxford cloth shirt, and brown slip on shoes, like you see above.

If you’ve never bought corduroys before, take care in paying attention to the size of the wales. These are the ribs that make up the fabric’s signature texture. Something with thicker, more widely spaced, plush wales will look a bit more old-fashioned; something very fine will look close to velvet. A mid-sized wale is a safe bet, though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wide wales either. Those will look quite comfortable and traditional, and if you don’t wear them in an overly baggy cut, they won’t look too frumpy. My green corduroys are somewhat wide waled, actually, and cut on the fuller side of slim. Corduroys are of course a country garment, but in green I think they’re especially rustic. Country clothes, in my opinion, always look better when they’re cut slightly fuller than city clothes. 

You can pick up decent corduroys at any number of places. Cordings, Pakeman, and Hoggs of Fife have very nice traditionally cut models, while Epaulet’s and Howard Yount’s will run slim. There’s also Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers, who will have different models for different fits. The upside to them is that you’re more likely to live near one of their stores, so you can check out their products in person. However, I’ve also found that the other suppliers are happy to give you measurements if you enquire. 

(As an aside, if you haven’t read Jesse’s address to the Corduroy Appreciation Club, you really ought to read it. It stands out in my mind as one of the funniest clothing-related things I’ve ever come across. Corduroy Now, Corduroy Forever!)