The Classic Barbour Jacket: How to Choose Which Is for You

Barbour Classic Beaufort jacket at Nordstrom


Each year when the weather begins to turn chilly and rainy, city types, suburban residents, and country dwellers alike all turn to a classic piece: the waxed cotton Barbour jacket. A British mainstay that came into style several years ago thanks to America’s renewed love of heritage brands, Barbour offers a range of classic jackets, with a cut and style for everyone.

If you’re considering adding a Barbour jacket to your autumn arsenal, you likely already know that you’ll need to choose from a long list of different styles — the Bedale, the Beaufort, and the Border, to start with — plus you’ll also have to get the hang of how the different models are sized, and consider what colors they’re offered in as you compare your options.

Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it sounds to figure out exactly which Barbour jacket is for you. And when you make the right selection, you’ll end up with a versatile jacket that, as Derek points out at Put This On, you’ll be able to wear just as easily with a casual outfit like a sweater and jeans as over a tweed sportcoat or grey flannel suit. Read on for all of the details you need to know to choose the perfect Barbour jacket for your style and needs.

Choosing the right model

Barbour Bedale waxed jacket at Macy's


Barbour offers a wide variety of different models. Each one is cut differently, and each has different pockets, cuffs, and vents. The Bedale is a short, equestrian-style jacket with knitted storm cuffs and dual vents. Because of its short length, the Bedale likely isn’t the jacket to choose if you want one to wear over a sportcoat, but it’s an excellent choice if you want a casual jacket to wear with cold-weather staples like sweaters and dark denim.

The Beaufort is a mid-length shooting jacket, which generally runs about 2.5 inches longer than the Bedale. Because it’s a shooting jacket, it also features a large game pocket at the back. It pairs well with a sportcoat, though it has velcro cuffs instead of the Bedale’s sweater cuffs, and its back is ventless.

The Border is a longer jacket, about 2 inches longer than the Beaufort, and its hem will usually fall just above the knee. The extra length makes it a superior choice if you live in a particularly rainy area, or for very tall guys for whom the Beaufort isn’t long enough.

In addition to the three most popular jackets, Barbour also offers a dizzying array of other cuts. For a slimmer, more contemporary version of the Bedale, try the Ashby. For a military-inspired field jacket, try the Sapper. And if you want a quilted jacket, not a waxed cotton model, go with the Liddesdale, Tinford, or Chelsea.

Selecting the correct details

Barbour Classic Bedale jacket at Saks Fifth Avenue


One of the first details you’ll have to consider once you’ve chosen a Barbour model is which fabric you want. Many are available in Barbour’s traditional waxed cotton as well as Sylkoil, which has a drier feel than traditional waxed cotton. A guide by Best in the Country also explains that Sylkoil generally has richer variation in color and finish than the waxed cotton. Jackets made of Sylkoil are often denoted by the term “classic” in the name, so while the Bedale and Beaufort are constructed of traditional waxed cotton, the Classic Bedale and Classic Beaufort are made from Sylkoil.

As explained at Put This On, the most iconic color for Barbour jackets is green. But even choosing a green Barbour jacket isn’t as simple as it sounds. Barbour offers two different shades of green: sage and olive. Sage could best be described as a forest green, while olive is a shade with more brown. Barbour’s sage jackets usually start with a shinier finish, which wears off quickly. And Put This On notes that many Barbour fans say that the olive jackets develop a more interesting patina over time, since the cotton isn’t as heavily processed before waxing takes place. If green isn’t your style, then Barbour also offers jackets in colors including navy blue, black, dark brown, and even tan.

You’ll also need to consider sizing when you’re shopping for a Barbour jacket. Classic models like the Bedale are cut full, so you’ll likely want to go with your regular size if you plan on wearing a sportcoat or other heavy layers underneath it, or size down if you’ll only wear lighter layers underneath it. Heritage models, seasonal fits, and the SL line are all cut trimmer, so you can go with your usual size. The best option is to try on the model you’re interested in in-store, but if that’s not an option, order from a retailer with an easy exchange policy. To choose the right size when shopping online, you’ll need to know your chest measurement.

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