Simon Crompton on the Blanket Blouson

Simon Crompton on the Blanket Blouson

Simon Crompton braves the elements in our cosy corduroy blanket blouson.

If there’s one thing that gets me excited about classic menswear, it’s when designers take traditional materials or cuts and play with them in subtle ways.

This is not fashion. It’s not clothing that is intended to stand out, with big patterns or dramatic proportions. It is intended, rather, to be just slightly unexpected. To result in someone taking a second, closer look at the garment and saying, perhaps under their breath, ‘huh!’.

Drake’s have been playing with these things for a few seasons now - particularly around the use of traditional materials for practical, outdoor clothing. And while I’m never going to wear an orange casentino fleece, I do like the crossover.

Among this season’s outerwear, the piece that appeals to me most is this corduroy blouson. An olive brown in colour, the Japanese corduroy is very soft yet thick, giving a reassuring feeling as it wraps the blanket lining around you.

Corduroy is more robust than most guys realise. I think it can sometimes seem smart and dressy because of its slight sheen (it is technically a type of velvet, after all), but traditionally it was mostly used for working men’s clothing - particularly trousers or suits, but also jackets and coats.

With a piece like this, the cord lends the blouson a sartorial air while retaining that working strength. It might wear and fade a little at the elbows and pockets over time, but otherwise it’s as robust as common alternatives like denim or canvas (and indeed for some people, the fading is part of the appeal).

There are other sartorial touches too. Dark brown horn buttons, but in a slotted design; that checked flannel lining; and the collar with its insert and diagonal stitching, to keep it popped up against the weather.

On the opposite, more practical side, the taping support for the buttons recalls outdoor clothing. This runs down the right-hand side of the inside of the jacket, giving extra strength to the buttons.

It would be almost unnoticeable in a dark-brown fabric similar to the corduroy. But the tape’s cream colour makes a feature of it, echoing the thread of the slotted buttons and standing out alongside the white of the zip too.

Smart, elegant clothing usually aims to reduce noise in design - hence the covering of seams on evening wear like black tie. Working clothes often do the opposite in the name of practicality - letting zips, pockets or buttons stand out, so they are easy to see and use.

As with many other pieces in the Drake’s collection, the appealing thing about this corduroy blouson for me is the way it manages to balance both of these worlds.

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