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For me, the best clothes are the ones that no one notices. Over the years color has disappeared from my wardrobe, and what’s left is a soothing palette of gray, black, blue, and brown. My theory is that when you wear something that blends into the background, all you can see is the person wearing it — like how a really great haircut makes you look more like yourself than you ever have before.
This is why I wanted the waxed Barbour jacket. It’s such a COAT. I bought my Barbour — the Beadnell in brown — in London, where I live, charmed by its plainness and the simplicity of its promise: to be my coat for life. If you rip your Barbour or put an elbow through a worn-out sleeve, the brand will patch it up for you in South Shields, the English town where the company was founded in 1894.
I paid £200 (which was equivalent to $270) for my Barbour when I bought it, and it’s still the most money I’ve ever spent on a single piece of clothing. But this is definitely one of those garments that can be described as an “investment,” not to mention how having a really great waterproof mid-season jacket is basically a London superpower. [Ed. note: It’s currently full-price for $399 on most sites, but keep your eyes peeled for a sale — Barbour is sold at both Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, which always have markdowns.]
Three years in, my coat’s a bit more beat-up than it was when I first bought it and definitely in need of a fresh waxing, but it keeps getting better-looking with age. The hand-warmer pockets are my favorite feature, and it also has big storage pockets called “poachers pockets” — presumably so you can pick up cockles, lost birds, or whatever else it is that poachers gather up on their countryside walks. In any case, the pockets are ideal for a wet fold-up umbrella, as they have built-in drainage holes.
My beloved Barbour is the most conservative thing I own, but even a staunch liberal can appreciate the value of tradition — and a classic tartan lining. The label at the neck has three embroidered Royal Warrants declaring that Barbour supplies goods to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales. And now, also me.