Don't Go Overboard, Go Overshirt

Don't Go Overboard, Go Overshirt

When is a shirt not a shirt? When it’s an overshirt, of course. The overshirt is one of those garments that has achieved ubiquity while remaining hard to define. It occupies the vertiginous upper echelon of the shirt-layering hierarchy, peering downwards at its just-a-shirt sibling, and far below that - the overshirt’s lowly, antithetical opposite number - the humble undershirt. But what grants it this elevated status? As with all of life’s tough questions, there are no easy answers, but thankfully here at Drake’s we happen to specialise in the design, manufacture and sale of these mysterious garments, so we can offer some small insight. If you will indulge me, I shall shed a little light on the subject.

I’ve heard of a shirt, but what’s an overshirt?!

One defining characteristic of an overshirt is its weight. A good overshirt cloth should sit in a very specific zone: a touch denser and heavier than what you might consider tucking into your strides, but less substantial than something you would use to make a true jacket. In Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, Kurt Russell’s narrator informs us that Cliff Booth’s relationship to Rick Dalton is “more than a brother, less than a wife.” If you will indulge a tenuous and laboured comparison, the overshirt is a little like Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth: more than a shirt, less than a jacket.

There is a mild temptation to continue this comparison, drawing lines between the overshirt’s utility as a garment and Cliff’s dependability as a friend, driver, handyman and stunt double. However, for the benefit of you, the reader, I will refrain.

What use do I have for an overshirt?

Speaking of utility, this is another key quality. Your ordinary shirt - in the grand scheme of things - is relatively pocket-deficient, with anything between zero and two pockets, whereas an overshirt comfortably exceeds this meagre quota (ours usually feature four pockets). This moderate expansion of personal storage may sound trivial, but take a moment to imagine all of the additional things you could carry with you. There will always be an immense joy in wearing a garment that negates the need to carry a bag. When you’re wearing an overshirt, you arethe bag.

 

Donning a hard-wearing, knockabout garment can always fill one with confidence. An item that’s meant to be worn in - not ring-fenced, mollycoddled, pampered or protected - leaves you feeling similarly without need of additional security: it isyour security, your garment-dyed cotton armour. You needn’t fuss or fret when wearing your favourite overshirt. To return ever-so-briefly to my laboured analogy from earlier on, in this respect the overshirt is again like our friend Cliff Booth. Treat it in a rough and tumble manner, put it through its paces, and it will always remain intact and indefatigably by your side - to paraphrase Rick Dalton, ‘You can do anything you want to it.’ However, please do use your discretion. We can’t guarantee that our overshirts will withstand some of the ordeals poor old Cliff weathers with aplomb.

How should I wear an overshirt?

Now, let us transition smoothly from utility, to versatility. How to wear an overshirt is a question we are often asked, but there is no one, single answer we can give. Rather, there are a multitude of answers, each pointing to one of the many rich and distinct possibilities of the overshirt. Firstly, there are the casual applications. Pair one with chinos, denim, wool flannels, fatigues, drawstring trousers, shorts: an overshirt makes a most agreeable upper-body counterpart to any of these diverse forms of legwear. An overshirt can sit on top of a shirt - the ‘overshirt-over-a-shirt’ - or a polo, or a t-shirt. Some particularly bold proponents have been known to wear one over nothing at all, right against the skin. While this is an advanced move, and we can’t safely recommend it for everyone, it would be a falsehood to say that we don’t condone it (in the right context, of course).

Then, there is the potential to dress up an overshirt. Who’s to say it can’t be worn over a shirt and tie? It’s a combination that harks back to the craftsmen and factory workers of the early 20th century, who would wear chore jackets and overalls on top of their suits. An overshirt can make for a stylish and easy alternative to a tailored jacket, lending an outfit some softness, and a rugged appeal, while sacrificing none of the sophistication.

The making of an overshirt.

Each Drake’s overshirt is produced in our dedicated factory in Chard, Somerset, using the same meticulous techniques that beget our now famous shirt-shirts. This includes single-needle stitching, floating interlining in the collars and cuffs, the finest horn and mother of pearl buttons, and fabrics sourced from some of the world’s most renowned shirting mills. We place emphasis on important details, such as elegantly shaped revere collars, bellows pockets, and knife pleats, to name but a few. It is these considerations that elevate our overshirts above the quotidian, the mundane. When safely ensconced in one of our overshirts, you are not merely your usual, workaday self. Rather you are a man of practicality, self-possession and sang-froid. A man with pockets, pockets containing everything the day could require.

Don’t go overboard. Go overshirt.

So the next time you slip on a Drake’s overshirt, bear these things in mind. Think about the quality of the garment you’re wearing, and its myriad sartorial possibilities. Don’t think too much about how to wear it, it is, after all, an item of clothing that should require little forward planning - such is the beauty of it. Just throw it over what you’re already wearing, if the weather looks like it may be changeable, and let it flow free. Don’t tuck it in, don’t even button it up. Just wear it with a sense of ease and sartorial reassurance, safe in its rugged embrace. Don’t go overboard. Go overshirt.