A Guide for Buying Vintage Harrington Jackets at Thrift Stores and on eBay

This guide is designed to help you buy a vintage Harrington jacket at a thrift store or on eBay. 

Vintage Harrington Jacket

If there’s one garment that sends a blogger into an image-searching tizzy and a defense or an attack or a poorly nuanced commentary on masculinity and style and cool with a capital C-you-later-tonight, it’s the Baracuta G-9.

A whole bunch of famous men wore it. Many of those famous men were certifiable assholes. Others were pretty cool. The characters portrayed by actors wearing the jacket fell somewhere in between.

Stylistically, the jacket itself falls somewhere in between, too. It looks good over a shirt and tie. It looks good over a t-shirt. It fits a little frumpily, or maybe that’s just calculated nonchalance.

The ambivalent history and look speaks to a pressing concern of the contemporary man: Can I be a lovable jerk? No. Be kind all the time. But you can invite suspicion, and we’re here  to help you do it without spending $400. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Below is a list of terms, brands, and tips to help you buy a vintage Harrington jacket that’s stylish, durable, and affordable. Check out our similar guides on Levi’s Denim Jackets, Flannels, and T-Shirts


TERMS

BARRACUDA

Sellers often use this homophonous spelling of Baracuta in the titles of similar jackets from other brands. I’ve not seen it officially used in any brand’s marketing, but it’s widespread enough to be useful in searches.

BASEBALL JACKET, BOMBER, GOLF JACKET

If you search these terms, you’ll see some Harringtons. But you’ll also see a lot of things that are not Harringtons, as you might for the terms windbreaker, wind cheater, spring jacket, and light jacket. I’m including this here to either save you trouble or offer additional options.

BUTTON COLLAR

The collar is perhaps the defining characteristic of this style of jacket. Rather than being angled downward, the collar point is perpendicular to the band and designed to be upturned and closed. Traditionally, a two button closure is used. It’s a functional detail designed to keep the wearer dry and warm.

BUTTON CUFF

While many Harringtons have an elastic cuff, some, like the the Baracuta G4, have a button cuff and tabs at the hem. Personally, I prefer the button look, as it’s a bit more streamlined. I don’t actually expect to get caught in a rainy windstorm while I’m wearing mine.

RIBBED ELASTIC CUFF

Most Harrington jackets, including the G9, have an elastic cuff and hem, in keeping with its original purpose to keep out wind and water. The cuffs and hem are a prime spot for wear and stains, so double check any jacket you find for fraying, distortion, and discoloration, and be sure you’re satisfied with their condition.

FLAP POCKET

Like the collar, the flap pocket is a standard feature. Generally, the pocket flap is slightly pointed and uses a single button closure. The button here is often missing, and you might miss it if the flap is open. Of course, sometimes there’s a zipper and no flap. To me it really doesn’t make a difference. Purists may disagree.

HARRINGTON

Source: The message board of some AP US-history class near Albany

This term delivers on what we’re looking for, and has no brand association. According to every little blog post about the history of the Harrington, the term itself comes from a character on Peyton Place who wore a similar jacket. For what it’s worth, I could find no evidence of the jacket on the series. Instead, here’s a generic title screen of no value to anyone.

LINED

The traditional Baracuta has a tartan lining throughout the body and a polyester lining in the sleeves. A plaid lining is common, though not universal. Lined jackets are, of course, warmer, and they tend to be a bit better quality overall.

MOD

Mod is a popular term sellers use to describe Harrington jackets. It refers to the British subculture of the late 1950s and 1960s in which similar jackets were popular, particularly those from Baracuta, Ben Sherman and Fred Perry. Baracuta released an ad campaign celebrating the style.

RAGLAN

A raglan sleeve extends from the cuff to the collar of the jacket, with an angled seam from underarm on up. Most Harrington jackets, including the Baracuta G9 and G4, have a raglan sleeve. It results in a certain fit at the shoulder, but it creates a kind of looseness, too. It fits the jacket’s original purpose.

REVERSIBLE

Reversible Harrington’s exist, and they can be sorta fun to have around. It also means, though, no functional interior pockets. Often, one side is solid and the other a tartan.

SCALLOPED

Often the back of a Harrington jacket, as on the Baracuta G9, will feature a second layer of fabric, similar to that of a classic wool cape coat. It’s designed to keep you warm and keep the water offer. Often, the bottom hem will be scalloped. I’m not sure why, to be honest, but it looks like it helps managed the effects of wind and rain while adding a cape layer for warmth.

TALON

A brand of zipper. The presence of a talon zipper on a jacket often, though not exclusively, dates the jacket to the 1970s or earlier. By the 1990s, most jackets used zippers made by YKK.

TARTAN

A tartan is a the woven plaid pattern representing a Scottish clan. Some are older and more prominent than others. Baracuta famously uses the Fraser tartan for the lining of their jacket. Many other brands use a Tartan as well, though of a different clan or invented from scratch.

TWO-WAY ZIPPER

A two-way zipper has two opposing zipper pulls. One closes the jacket as it goes up and opens as it goes down. The other opens as it goes up and closes as it goes down. That enables the jacket to be worn with varying levels of closure, which is lovely for days of varied weather or after a large meal. The original Baracuta uses a two-way zipper.

UNLINED

This is pretty self-explanatory. From experience I can tell you that it’s a bit more like a shirt than a jacket. But on nights when it’s warm but you’re still trying to layer something, an unlined Harrington is the way to go; it’s hard to find a lighter option. And because unlined Harringtons are not much different from a shirt, it’s easy and affordable to have them slimmed up.

WOOL

A wool Harrington is hard to come by, and I’m tempted to say they’re not worth the effort. If you’re going after a short wool jacket, then you can find something a bit more flattering than the oft poofy Harrington. The price for wool tends to be higher, and vintage ones I’ve handled often pill.


BRANDS

BARACUTA

The brand that started it all and today the standard for quality. These run about $400 new. Vintage Made-in-England versions generally go for $75 to $200. The Van Heusen off-shoot of the 70s and 80s, which are made in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Malyasia, go for less, and to me seem marked up for the brand name compared to comparable pieces. They are still perfectly fine jackets, though.

FIELD AND STREAM

I’ve handled quite a few of these, and find them altogether fine. The liner and shell are sturdy, the zipper is heavy, and they are often fairly priced on the second-hand market. Gordon & Ferguson was/is a private label for the store Field and Stream, so it’s worth searching both. They are made overseas, and most appear to date from the 90s and 80s.

LAND’S END

Another jacket without a sexy brand or history but nevertheless a darn nice jacket. I’ve handled a few of these, and rate them highly. They are lined, sturdy, and generally affordable. I have seen a few, too, that are made in the USA.

LONDON FOG

London Fog makes a nice unlined Harrington jacket. They come in a variety of colors, and many are made in the USA. For whatever reason, though, they’re often marked up at thrift stores and online. While  a mark-up might only be $12 instead of $6, just be aware that their are comparable options with less thrift-cachet.

IZOD-LACOSTE

In the days before Izod polos were on the JC Penney clearance rack and Lacoste polos were on Russell Westbrook, Izod-Lacoste made a nice jacket. It features the trademark Crocodile, and some feature a vibrant plaid lining of red, green, and yellow. There’s something fun about having the famous logo on a vintage piece. They’re worth the average price of $30-$45. I date most from the 80s.

SEARS

Sears made a lot of jackets under a lot of sub brands: Oakbrook, Kings Road, Sears Men’s Store, Sportswear, and so on. They’re all fine, and if you find one in your size then snag it. The resale prices, though, are often a bit high due to perceived age. They may be from the 60s or 70s, but that doesn’t make them worth $60+.

OTHER BRANDS

What about Fred Perry and Ben Sherman? They made a name with the mod crowd, but I’m yet to find a true vintage Fred Perry or Ben Sherman Harrington jacket in person or anywhere on the internet.

Other familiar brands made Harringtons, but they’re not common enough to warrant their own write-up. LL Bean and Woolrich have made quality versions and with domestic manufacturing. Catalina, CalCraft, Towncraft, Maine Guide, and McGregor versions exist as well. My personal favorite came from Scorecard: For Men of Action.


Tips for Shopping

Unlike, say, a nice denim jacket or a leather jacket, you’re likely to find a vintage Harrington within a few thrift store visits, assuming you’re a common size and not too picky about color and other details.

At thrift stores, vintage Harrington jackets range between $5 and $15. The higher end are those that are lined or perhaps deadstock, and those from oft-marked up brands like Lacoste and L.L. Bean.

On eBay, vintage Harrington jackets range from $20 to $60. I consider $35 to be a fair price for a lined Harrington in the style and color that you want, and $20 to be a fair high-end price for an unlined version.

Prices trend higher on Etsy, but you may find peace of mind in the quality of photos and additional details often found on listings there.

When shopping, be on the lookout for common points of wear and failure.

  • The buttons on the collar and pockets are often missing or very loose.
  • Ribbing at cuffs and hems is often frayed or stretched.
  • The seams within hand pockets may be ripped, so be sure to feel around.
  • On unlined jackets, the discoloration at the neck can be as bad as on a dress shirt.

All that said, they’re a durable and accessible garment, and minor wear will not greatly reduce the look or longevity of the piece.

Here at CommaVintage, we ship out Harrington jackets regularly. We’d love to have you join us. Subscribe today and take $10 off with code “TAKEPAUSE.”


Tips for Wearing

Harrington jackets were initially designed for ease of movement and weather resistance. Its not a pedigree for high style. So, there are some things to consider when purchasing.

  • A raglan sleeve makes for a less defined fit. Jackets with typical shoulders exist, but they’re hard to come by and not true to the garment. So, don’t kill yourself looking for a perfect fit–it might not exist.
  • Ribbed hems and cuffs create a bit of puff. For this reason, I prefer the look of the Baracuta G4 over the G9. If you’re more concerned with contemporary style over historic fidelity, I recommend button cuff over elastic.
  • Unlined jackets can be easily tailored. If you’re simply looking for a layering piece less than a functional piece of outerwear, I’d go unlined. They can be slimmed up, generally lack elastics, and won’t greatly adjust the general warmth (or heat) of your outfit.
  • A bright Harrington with a white t-shirt and jeans looks awesome 90% of the time.
  • A navy Harrington with an oxford and chinos looks awesome 90% of the time.

Further Reading

A whole ton of folks have written about the history and styling of the jacket, so I happily defer to their expertise.

The Harrington Jacket – How to Wear it, History, & Affordable Picks (PRIMER)
This article provides exactly what its headline suggests. Includes of a photo of Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Style Staples: The Harrington Jacket (THE ART OF MANLINESS)
This article provides exactly what its headline suggests. Includes of a photo of Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Style 101: The Harrington Jacket (THE RAKE)
This article adds a bit more history than the standard fare, and includes some interesting photos that don’t turn up in the typical search results.  Includes of a photo of Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Ultimate Cool: the Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket (BOND LIFESTYLE)
This article comprehensively catalogs the appearance of the Baracuta G9 in films over the last century, including several from the past two decades. Worth a read, frankly. Includes a photo of Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair.

The Baracuta Harrington: Guide to Baracuta Harringtons, Jackets & Coats (ATOM RETRO)
A top-notch North Yorkshire vintage and vintage-inspired retailer goes all in on Baracuta, with more history and detail than most. Does not include a photo of Steve McQueen in the The Thomas Crown Affair.

 

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