How to Wear a Bush Jacket
A safari jacket or “bush” jacket has been worn since the late forties early fifties and is a smart alternative to a sport jacket. The materials most often used for the safari jacket are cotton drill ( a cotton based fabric that is tough and sturdy) or poplin. The reason cotton has been used so frequently is that is breathes well and is very durable which comes in handy in the African jungle which is where they were used most at the time.
For the Women
In the past, sticking to cotton was your only choice but today creative designers are using fabrics such as silk, linen, and lace to create urban safari jackets. The cuts are brought in to flatter the waist, the epaulettes shrunken or removed, and the billowing bottom changed to a ribbed elastic hem that clings to the hips. The result is a casual and feminine piece that has elements of masculinity while exuding a soft, feminine silhouette. The creativity doesn’t stop there though, Michael Kors recently incorporated a safari inspired jumper into his collection with double gusseted pockets, a heavy belt, and mid calf shorts sewn on. Michael Kors never does anything half fast though and this look was only truly perfect because of the moss colored suede he made the jumper out of.
When choosing to invest in this trend for Spring or Fall 2012, make sure the infamous pockets are present and a second set of squarish pockets directly below should be there as well. Otherwise you are simply wearing a casual jacket. If you really want the safari feel shoot for a color close to khaki and look for the epaulette details. Though solely decorative, they themselves have a history and a story to tell, so in the spirit of historical comprehension shoot for these simple shoulder straps.
Lastly be sure the jacket is not too snug otherwise you will risk looking stuffed into your bush jacket. This exploded look is acceptable for no one and ultimately just leaves you looking like you have the fashion know how of a bush woman.
For the Men
Today, the stylish man can acquire this coat in a plethora of colors and fabrics all of which will likely not be worn in Africa but that’s okay; the urban jungle awaits and air-conditioning is a wonderful thing so be creative and look for linen and other lighter, softer fabrics that make up your safari jacket. Remember, being well-dressed simply means dressing appropriately. This was not the case in the 1950’s. There was much pomp and circumstance that had to be observed otherwise you wouldn’t get into that prestigious restaurant in Palm Beach.
Passing muster at high falutin restaurants and clubs can be difficult but if you abide by the rules of the safari jacket all will be forgiven and even embraced. Throwing on a bush jacket in white raw silk and showing up at the golf course would probably be admired by many and have you Teeing off at a more preferential time. Showing up with that same jacket in distressed black pleather will probably have you kicked out. So fabric is important. But the real rules of the jacket are as follows:
- Be sure the Safari jacket has two gusseted pockets on the breast pockets
- A second set of pockets should be below the first set
- The jacket should have epaulettes
- A belt is a slimming and great final touch
- A linear line of shell or horn buttons should fasten the jacket
- It should be mid length
It is important that the shoulders line up a little lower than where your sport coats would. Just keep in mind that the safari jacket rarely (if ever) has shoulder pads so it is a more relaxed fit. The waist shouldn’t be too suppressed as the main reason for this coat is function (even though you are not on a trek through the Serengeti). The jacket’s hem should cover your posterior (BUTT) and the cuffs on the arms should end above the last knuckle of your thumb. This will allow for a quick dagger pull when fighting off the lion king… or your boss at work.
Last Piece of Advice
This is a casual jacket and should be worn as such so make sure to pair it with a nice cotton pant or short or something a bit more comfortable for the ladies like a linen skirt. Of course if the men wanted to wear a man’s skirt by all means do so!