Nine items of clothing that define Britishness

5. Uncle Harry’s Jacket by Barbour

The first ever Barbour coat, named Uncle Harry’s Jacket, is about as quintessentially British as it gets. The venerable brand, founded in 1894, was created to make weatherproof workwear for fishermen, and has since become a staple of the British upper-middle-class and upper-class countryside wardrobe. It is a particular favourite with the Royal Family – the late Princess Diana, the late Queen Elizabeth, the Prince and Princess of Wales and His Majesty the King have all worn a Barbour over the years.

“There is a long history with the family [at Blenheim], and some of the staff also wear them,” says Ballenger. “The history, the practicality, the craftsmanship is really amazing. When Steve McQueen wore one in the 1960s, the Barbour went mainstream – and then various ‘It girls’, I suppose you’d call them, started wearing them at Glastonbury, and there was a resurgence.” The Barbour has a special connection with Blenheim, she says. “The family have worn Barbours for years, they’re part of their heritage. So the Barbour display ties in with both the Palace’s history and with fashion, from Uncle Harry’s Jacket up to the recent collaborations with Gucci and others.”

The Barbour has always been an essentially sustainable garment, adds Ballenger, as a Barbour jacket lasts a lifetime, and is typically repaired many times over – “the Uncle Harry’s Jacket on display is still in good condition”. And of course there is the great British weather, also a factor in the Barbour’s essential Britishness. As De la Haye points out: “Landscape and climate are central to British fashion identity. As a nation famed for rain, protective clothing is a wardrobe mainstay, with Barbour leading the way in terms of performance and style.” Most recently, the Barbour can be seen on screen worn by Eddie Horniman aka “The Duke” (Theo James) in the Guy Ritchie Netflix series The Gentlemen.

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