The new version of our reversible suede bomber jacket – reversible so you can turn it inside out at the first hint of rain – is finally here.
Much as I liked the previous version, the process of designing the Linen Harrington – essentially from scratch – was more personal and I think led to something that was unique, as well as highly functional and modern.
So I wanted to go through that process with the suede jacket, and these changes to both proportion and design were not something we could do under the Valstarino banner. So Valstar and PS parted friends, and I began the process of creating something different.
Functionally, this suede jacket is basically the same as the previous iteration. It’s just as luxurious, just as versatile, and swaps from suede outer to water-resistant inner in the same way. You pull the arms through, then push through as many buttons as you need.
But design wise, it is significantly different. It has a raglan shoulder with prominent seams. There is no elastic at the neck, only the waist. There are plunge pockets on the outer layer, with patches on the inside. And the suede is heavier, giving it a satisfying feel.
Taking those points one at a time, the raglan shoulders create an easier body shape for a lot of people to wear over a variety of weights of clothing; but actually, the reason I like them in the suede is primarily a design one. In a dark, matte material like this, they provide a nice focus, something that is distinctive but subtle.
We’ve retained the scalloped yoke on the back of the jacket from the Linen Harrington, and I like that for the same reason. The horizontal line across the back is very flattering, as well as creating another point of interest.
Using suede at the neck instead of ribbing also picks up a point from the Harrington (just without the extended closure). I find it more comfortable to wear without the elastication, and it creates a cleaner, more elegant look.
The use of plunge pockets on the outside (rather than rectangular patches) is also more streamlined. You’d think sporty raglan sleeves and a cleaner look elsewhere could be contradictory, but they sit very nicely together. (Indeed, the original A1 design design has the opposite combination.)
Having patch pockets on the inside of the jacket is also more functional than our previous iteration of this jacket, which had plunge pockets on the inside. With this version, those patches inside are effectively normal inbreast pockets, just lower, and still look good when the jacket is reversed.
The fit of the new jacket is more similar to the Linen Harrington too, in that it is blousier in the body, creating a nice flattering shape in the chest and back, sitting above a neat waist.
However, the sizing is not exactly the same. I would expect readers to wear much thicker layers under the suede jacket, so a Medium in that comes up rather bigger than a Medium in the linen.
To help everyone understand this, and illustrate the difference, I’ve taken shots here in both a Small (size 3) and a Medium (4). I would take a Medium, as I do in the Harrington, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will – I like to layer thick knitwear under mine, such as heavy roll neck, but others may not.
The shots of the jacket above are all in a Small. Lower down this article are shots in a Medium (in the sweatshirt). Directly below this paragraph are photos of both sizes, with the Small on the left and the Medium on the right. It’s important to bear in mind, however, that a neater fit will very often look better when static, less so when moving.
Click on the images to enlarge and zoom.
Personally, I think a larger fit is more relaxed and elegant, but I know people are difference – it is a question of style as well as layering. And both can look great, as hopefully the more styled images everywhere else attest.
For anyone that doesn’t know, I’m six foot (183cm) with a 39 inch (99cm) chest, a 34 inch (86cm) waist and weigh 12.5 stone (79kg). As ever, the most effective way to tell your size, though, is to compare the measurements of an actual jacket in the table below, to something similar you already own.
Turning to materials, I’d say the suede of the new jacket is roughly 15% heavier than previous versions. This is not enough to make it functionally different – I still wear it the same times of the year, in the same weather – but it gives it a little more substance, which I find satisfying.
The colour of the suede is dark brown, a touch darker than our previous iteration and a touch colder (deliberately), but still that most versatile of menswear colours. The shade shown varies a little with light and shadow, direct and reflected sun, but the shot below is accurate if readers want a specific reference.
The lining of the jacket is still a highly water-resistant polyamide. Over many different versions of this jacket I’ve found this is a nice combination of weight, breathability and rain-resistance.
It feels like a regular jacket lining (not stiff or less comfortable to wear) and is easy to slip on and off. But when reversed, there is still enough protection for a good walk in the rain.
As described previously, the point of the Reversible Suede Jacket is not that you use it as a waterproof, deliberately going out into a downpour. Rather it makes a suede jacket more functional, enabling you to wear it without any fear that it could start raining. It removes that fear.
On the topic of weather, I’m pleased we’ve finally managed to get the jacket out (so many delays, everywhere) at the perfect time of year to wear it.
Right now is when I start transitioning from long winter coats to shorter ones such as this suede. Maybe with a heavier knit underneath to start with; maybe with a hat and scarf. But the weather now (in the UK) is perfect.
Like the look below: a heavy sweatshirt (Real McCoy’s Ball Park) with jeans, boots, and a cashmere PS watch cap. Casual but still well dressed.
The other look shown here, at the top of the article, is intended to demonstrate how smart the bomber can go.
The combination of tailored wool trousers, neat cashmere crewneck and leather loafers is a nice example of something smart that doesn’t involve tailoring – casual chic, as I’ve accurately or inaccurately called it in the past.
Just because you’re not wearing a suit and tie doesn’t mean you can’t look elegant.
Of course, the fact both top and bottom are shades of grey makes it a tiny bit more unusual; navy or cream on top would be more conventional. And separating those shades of grey with a belt makes a big difference.
All things we’ve talked about in recent months. All things that are probably now operating at the level of the subconscious.
As mentioned earlier, with this grey/grey outfit I’m wearing a Small. With the sweatshirt and jeans it’s a Medium.
At the very bottom of the article, though, I’ve included a few images of the previous iterations of the jacket. This is purely to remind readers (or show more recent joiners) other ways in which I like to wear one. The jacket in these shots is in all cases a variation on the Valstarino, not this new version.
- The Reversible Suede Jacket is available on the Permanent Style shop now, here.
- The cost is £1125 plus VAT. The increase is unfortunately a reflection of rising costs in everything from raw material to labour to energy. But nothing else. As ever, it is well priced and I think very good value for money.
- The jacket will also be sold by the makers, Private White VC, but not for a week or so.
- The suede is reverse goatskin, with a thickness of 0.5/0.6mm
- The lining is water-resistant polyamide
- The buttons are the unpolished, two-button, buffalo-horn buttons used on all PS outerwear
- In terms of care, cleaning of suede is easier than most people think – see video here for details.
- As mentioned above, the jacket comes up a little large, to reflect how I like to wear it as well as potential layering.
- Have a look at the comparison images to see how a Small and Medium fit on me, and use the table below to compare them to a jacket you already own (always the best option, if you can).
|X-Small (2)||Small (3)||Medium (4)||Large (5)||X-Large (6)||XX-Large (7)|
Body length: From bottom of neck to bottom of jacket, including rib
Sleeve length: From bottom of neck, along raglan seam on top of arm, to end of sleeve including rib
Ribbing width: When ribbing at bottom of jacket is relaxed, stretches to 10cm greater
Note: images below are of previous iterations of the jacket, and are included merely for styling. The design has now changed.