Though most Americans likely think of camouflage and face paint as standard hunting attire, historically, that was not always the case. For centuries, hunting was a pastime of the nobility, and as such it called for elegant attire. In the 1800s and early 1900s, the British turned hunting dress into an art form — and that art form has survived. The traditional shooting jacket is one of the foremost examples of classic British style, and for modern hunting aficionados, nothing says “gentleman” more.
The Traditional Shooting Jacket
British sport coats evolved out of necessity. When British noblemen wanted to hunt, ride on horseback or hike through the countryside, they needed formal attire that could withstand the rigors of country adventure. Tailors developed special jackets for each type of outdoor pursuit, and for hunting expeditions (as well as clay shooting and other similar activities), they created a garment whose every detail adds to the jacket’s overall functionality.
Action pleats, gun patches, tab collars, elbow patches and bellows pockets are among the modifications particular to a traditional shooting jacket. Each of these adds either to the jacket’s durability, flexibility, or the wearer’s comfort. The action pleats enable a freer range of motion, while the gun patch, a strip of fabric on the shooter’s gun-arm shoulder, protects both huntsman and jacket from the butt end of the rifle. The elbow patches enable the wearer to crawl if need be, and the large pockets are ideal for storing ammunition and other useful items. Traditionally made of tweed because of its warmth, breathability and capacity for withstanding the elements, a traditional shooting jacket comes in a range of fabrics — and styles.
EVOLUTION OF STYLE
Over time, the look of shooting jackets has changed, especially in the United States. Originally, British tailors on Savile Row perfected the classic look described above. Their true bespoke shooting jackets set the standard for gentlemanly attire while hunting.
Eventually, gun makers began fabricating clothing to accompany their firearms. Two of the oldest and most notable gun manufacturers to do this are Beretta, an Italian gun maker since the 1500s, and Holland & Holland, a London company founded in 1835. To this day, Holland & Holland retains more of the signature British look, but Beretta’s products illustrate how Americans’ hunting style has deviated from that of our former colonial rulers’. Though some of Beretta’s shooting jackets harken back to the traditional shooting jacket, many of their designs have a modern feel and come in new-age, hi-tech materials. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but for purists, a traditional, custom shooting jacket carries an element of class that cannot be replicated.
WEARING THE TRADITIONAL SHOOTING JACKET
No longer are shooting jackets resigned to something you find in the back of your grandfather’s closet or outfits seen in period-piece cinema. The shooting jacket is a viable and festive sport coat substitute that can be worn with flair and panache. Even though we remained true to the coat’s British heritage, we designed with the contemporary man in mind. When the weather dips below freezing and the leaves start to change colors, there is something festive and elegant about a shooting jacket made from hearty tweed with accents of luxurious suede trim.
So how do you wear one you may ask? It’s actually quite simple and gives you the ability to have some fun as you’re dressing for the seasonal occasion. Pair it with a plaid button-down dress shirt and moleskin or corduroy trousers for a update to typical business casual attire. Looking for a more informal approach? Replace the dress shirt with a chunky wool sweater or turtleneck to really give off that festive feel. You can even pair it with of a piece of rugged denim to truly inspire the country aesthetic.
No matter the pairing you envision, we are excited to offer you a completely unique, custom shooting jacket individually tailored to your preferences and needs. Functional, durable and above all handsome, our traditional shooting jacket offers a classy alternative to camo. Because a gentleman should be well dressed — always.