Indian fashion today sets very high standards. Men are very fashion conscious and are ready to experiment with different styles and new trends. In my case, I can never have enough suits but at most times, I challenge myself to style a particular ensemble differently. I always insist on building a wardrobe gradually, starting with essentials (a classic suit, blue travel jacket, some tailored chinos, a great pair of denims and you can never go wrong with classic shirts, a pair of sneakers and dress shoes) and there on, add variations based on current trends.
What is a travel jacket
One of the major benefits of a travel jacket is the soft feel and unstructured construction that looks effortless. You can literally just roll it up and pack it in your bag without compromising on the shape and drape of a well constructed garment.
The key characteristics of an ideal travel jacket are as follows.
First and foremost, understand your fabrics and remember that the weave is important.
A tightly woven fabric restricts airflow, whereas an open weave fabric (such as a hopsack) is light and breezy.
Hold the fabric up to the light, and you will see how open or closed it is woven. You can almost see through a very open weave fabric like a mesh, whereas a tightly woven fabric doesn’t allow much light to pass through it. Keep in mind that these fabrics are better suited for our Indian tropical weather.
The next step is to understand your jacket’s construction. Remember that you are looking for a breathable and non-heavy jacket for your travel:
- Completely Unlined: Generally, unlined jackets are worn in the hottest climates and only available bespoke because it is actually more time consuming to tailor an unlined jacket. While it maximises the air flow, the jacket fabric will often catch your inner layer (shirt or t-shirt), appearing to have more wrinkles and looking ill-fitted. A lining also serves to hide seams and hems, so an unlined coat must be neatly finished compared to its covered counterpart. A good alternative to the completely unlined jacket would be a ‘shacket’ which is currently in trend.
- Half / Quarter Lined: Most travel jackets feature a “half” lining, which means that only the shoulders and sleeves are lined. This allows comfortable movement, smooth layering over the shirt, and a decent fit without compromising the airflow in the back, where it feels particularly refreshing and light.
- Fully Lined: Most value jackets are built with a layer of fusing or a non-woven backing because it is the least expensive option and has the shortest turnaround time.
Another significant aspect to consider before buying or commissioning your travel jacket would be the interlining. In order to achieve the right drape and shape, interlinings are used to create that additional third dimensional feel.
You can have two different types of interlinings — fused and sewn/unfused interlining.
Top quality garments have a sewn interlining and no heat fusing, which is also called full canvas. These are best to keep you cool because they allow air flow, drape well and mould to the body over time. Half canvas jackets are, where a sewn-in canvas piece is used in the chest and the lapel, and fused to the bottom part of the jacket. These come at better price points in comparison to a full canvas construction.
Low-value garments feature an all-fused interlining construction because it is the least expensive option and has the quickest turnaround time.
For a travel jacket, I recommend a half-canvas construction ensuring drape and structure. You want a lightweight, airy coat, so you should add as less layers as possible to reduce insulation.
Depending on your body posture you can select to have a padded or an unpadded shoulder line. Just by removing the shoulder pads, we can make the jacket lighter and drape more naturally over the shoulders, making it look sleeker and more naturally fitted.
On the other hand if you have an extreme drop shoulder or variations on your shoulders, you should insist on pads to even out the shoulders.
Osman Abdul Razak
BTI Style Guide
How to shop for your next travel jacket
Lightweight: While travelling, it is important to keep your luggage as light as possible. A travel jacket is not heavy so it is your best bet.
Crease-free: When you travel, most of the hotels have only a standard iron in the room, which cannot be used for a jacket. A crease-free jacket is ideal as it can also be folded and kept in your bag.
Versatile: On a business trip, you usually carry multiple shirts and trousers with one or two jackets. Hence, choose a jacket which can be worn with several ensembles and to various occasions. For instance, a two-button navy blazer.
Comfort: The jacket is always the second layer of clothing and is a three-dimensional garment compared to a two-dimensional shirt. Hence, one with stretch, that moves with the body brings in a lot of comfort.
Colour: A darker colour will always be more preferrable as the lighter coloured ones tend to get stained fast.
Inputs from Sharad Walia, brand director, Park Avenue