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Coats & Jackets

What is a waxed jacket?

What is a waxed jacket?

In a nutshell

A waxed jacket is one made from cotton that's been treated with beeswax or paraffin, which makes it impervious to rain. Commonly worn in the country, they look just as good – and keep you just as dry – styled with jeans and trainers.


The material was originally used for sails, but in the early 20th century John Barbour – founder of the eponymous brand – realised it was also ideal for protecting outdoor sorts from the elements. He created a robust, practical coat that could withstand even the foulest weather and its popularity meant other brands soon created variations on the style, which has remained almost unchanged for a century. Many modern waxed jackets still have the extra deep pockets that farmers and gamekeepers would slot a rabbit or pheasant into. Today, they’re handy for your phone, keys, wallet and all the other clutter the modern man lugs about.

How to wear it well

Though the style hasn’t changed much in the past century, the waxed jacket has crossed from country to city in the last decade. “They still look great worn in a classic, outdoorsy way,” says Thread’s Alice Watt, “with things like corduroy, rugby shirts and heavy boots. But because they come in neutral colours and are such a classic item, they work just as well with chinos and a shirt.

“Younger guys have even started wearing them with things like hoodies, trainers and jeans or joggers. It creates an interesting contrast between the rural fabric and a more urban aesthetic. But however you style one, a waxed jacket is always guaranteed to keep you warm and dry.”