When one talks about a safari jacket the image that comes to mind is that of a middle-aged man wearing a sand-colored shirt jacket that fits loose and long. The look is colonial and rather unflattering. There is no shaping in the waist and has loose sleeves in an effort to remain cool while on an African safari.
But in the last year or so the safari jacket has seen a come back albeit with a modern interpretation. They are either made like a shirt or a coat depending on the maker. My preferred version is the one that is made like a shirt, in other words, unstructured, cut to fit over another shirt and made with a heavy, textured cloth such as linen.
I pitched the idea to Abdul of White Planes Workshop and showed him a few samples. He said it was doable so I went to find the fabric and buttons. I picked up a dark olive drab linen-polyester fabric from one of the local fabric shops and a bunch of light brown horn buttons from a friend. With the materials ready Abdul and I got started.
My safari jacket is based on the version made by The Armoury and Ascot Chang with a few changes. I removed the covered placket that hides the buttons down the chest. I also made the jacket’s body shorter by two inches than my ideal jacket length. The sleeves are slightly shorter in keeping with the casual look. Darts were added to give shape to the waist.
When I received the final garment it had that freshly tailored look. After a few wears and stuffing the pockets with various accoutrements it looks worn in. Wrinkles and creases have formed in some areas. I just need to give it a couple of washes for the stitches to pucker, the fabric to soften and fade in color.
A safari jacket is a surprisingly easy to wear garment. You can throw it over almost any shirt and pairs easily with jeans, chinos and even dress trousers. The creases and wrinkles suggest “you’ve got bigger fish to fry”, as Bruce Boyer puts it, while the pockets are great for carrying small accessories. It’s a versatile and utilitarian garment making it perfect for the modern man.