Friday, May 31, 2013

Norfolk Insouciance or Synched-Up Sans Souci

Other than my damn-self  I believe the Norfolk Jacket to be the trickiest thing in menswear. It's always conflicted me quite frankly. Why the conflict? Because it’s intrigued me to the point that I’ve considered making one on a couple of occasions only to have my rarely manifest better judgement stop me. Thank you, thank you, rarely manifest better judgement.
So what’s with the intrigue? I think for me, the allure comes from the same place that my affection for bellows-poacher pockets and affinity for Ghurkha shorts and khaki anything emanates. Think little ADG…1971…Mangum’s Army Navy Store. Then fast forward a couple of decades and we add to the military kit broth, a seasoning bag of 19th-early 20th century British Colonial aesthetic and bam…we're there.
And what’s with the reluctance? This one’s easy. It’s not the Shooting Party affectation. Hell, if that was the case, this English Country-ass poseur would a had to throw nine-tenths of his closet out the door two decades ago. Shut up. It’s that darned belt and buckle. If I’d a pulled the trigger on a Norfolk, the Santa Claus-ness of it would cause me to take a pass on wearing it more often than not.
While I’ve never spent the day in a Norfolk Jacket, I believe it to be similar to any double breasted jacket in that if left open, it’s just not gonna look right. And I love the sloppy Norfolk sprezzatura that our boy F. Scottie conveys but I just don’t think it’s practical for me. Hell, is the Norfolk practical for anybody?
In addition to the general obtuseness of the belt thang, the Norfolk by design is essentially a box…a square. A square with a bi-swing back that enables easy arm raising and Purdy gun shouldering when bird hunting. Functional for that particular endeavor and surely warm enough to protect you from the bone chilling elements. So buy one if you are stalking and shooting in the Highlands. Otherwise, where the hell are you gonna wear it and not look like you’ve wandered off the set of your community theatre’s production of Gunga damn something? Even slender folks like my sveltself are probably gonna look boxy in the Norfolk. Now if the bad boy was shaped like a rhombus, I might be in. I mean really, who wouldn’t want to posit the word rhombus when asked about their intriguing jacket?
Let me end my Norfolk ramble with a photo of one who seems to do the Norfolk justice…and vice-versa. I came across this photo of Prince Philip and it was the first time I saw a Norfolk that seemed to look right…to look stylish.
I gandered it for a moment to try and dial-in on what might be the trick to the Prince’s jacket’s lack of obtuseness. Here’s the deal. The front closure is the secret sauce. Two things about it. First, there’s no buckle. It’s a two button closure that when opened, doesn’t have the dangly bits with which one wouldn’t know what to do. (Story of my life) But I think just as important is the width of said closure belt/band. It’s thinner. The attenuated width of this bisecting horizontal girding makes all the difference in the world. Geez…a four inch bisecting girder belt on me would be eight point three percent of my height. Yep, that’s one of the key Norfolk dilemmas. Shut the….
And this obviously bespoken (bespeaked? bedazzled? bedamned?)  rig also has just enough resultant waist suppression while merely buttoned. Cinch-up the belt on those Santa Claus razor strop widthed versions and you’ll get waist shaping too. Gathered up looking…strangu-damn-lation…like a Santa who just finished Weight Watchers.

Ok. It’s off to the shower and then to day-two with this new client here in no man’s land. Somewhere between Chicago and Milwaukee. Think industrial office parks…not the elegance of the North Shore.

Onward. Dangling and Attenuated.



Anonymous said...

What about the banded sleeve cuff, Max - you gonna have Flusser go on and add that note to the Norfolk he'll make for you? Cool how that Vanity Fair cover for Goiter and Gun magazine is the same jacket prototype as Philip's, cep Philip added the banded cuff to his jacket. Damn Philip is good lookin.


Anonymous said...

I inherited an off-white norfolk in 70s (probably synthetic) twill from an ex bro-in-law. It looks like wool cavalry twill, but I speck it is something else. One nice thing about it and others I have seen is the lack of a canvas front. By wearing it buttoned, you don't have to worry as much about lapel infrastructure. I think corduroy might be another good fabric for them, as Ralph did a million years ago. I am surprised, with his fondness for the unconstructed look, that he ehasn't done more of them. I like the example you found on the Duke of Edinburgh, but it doesn't have the characteristic verticle bars. Instead, it has the same kind of cute pleats as some denim jackets do alongside the buttons and buttonholes. I do like the belt, though... Remember the belt backed semi-safari jackets of the early 70s? Some people call them half-Norfolk, I think. Presumably, one could do the belt the way some people do it on trench coats and bush jackets- tie it in the back and leave it alone- but it seems particularly odd to order a jacket with an aspect that you immediately disregard. It would be like getting sleeve buttons and then leaving them unbuttoned all of the time, or something. We don't Smoke, We don't Drink, NORFOLK Norfolk!

Ian from Downunder said...

Hello Dustin,

Norfolk jacjets are very stylish. You're a stylish fellow so stop dithering. Google 'bookster' and you can design your own.

By the way,our trip is all booked so this Aussie red-neck will see you in mid to late September.

ADG said...

Ian...I can't wait for you and your impertinence to roll into DC! Bring plenty of dosh. As for the Norfolk...the "Bookster" version is the worst offender of the
Santa Claus-ness of it all.

And to my other two prescient and brilliant commenters...I ain't gettin no kinda Norfolk.

Young Fogey said...


In an announcement that is sure to shock the men's fashion blogging world, well-known "fuzzy dice" aficionado ADG, proprietor of the famous and well-regarded blog Maxminimus, has announced that there is one item in the range of attention-getting men's clothing that he will not wear: a Norfolk jacket.

ADG, well-known for his love of eye-catching togs, often laden with every sartorial bell and whistle known to man, has posted countless pictures of himself wearing a huge variety of outrageous get-ups. However, when pressed on the issue of the Norfolk jacket, a English country classic, he quipped, "I ain't gettin no kinda Norfolk."

Disappointed readers can take solace in knowing that ADG will continue to wear bright colors, gaudy patterns, and outlandish combinations. Countless iGents have marveled at his ability to wear such whimsical attire and yet still look smashing. He promises that his "rarely manifest better judgement" will not stop him from putting together outfits that would cause lesser men to shake in their bespoke boots.

For further information, visit

ADG said...

Buh buh buh Fogey Young...I loved the press release. For a moment I thought it was gonna be similar to the kind of declaration that outed the WASP 101 guy! But then again, there ain't a whole lot of anonymity left in my realm. Trusting that you and all of your lovlies are thriving.

Norfolk. Out.

LPC said...

I suppose that jacket is best when it gives into its Trench Lovin' Inner Self.

Anonymous said...

I'm as much an Anglophile as the next guy, but I'd have to draw the line at a full Norfolk jacket.
Though with your svelte-ness, you could cut a dashing figure, like Mr Rarhbone:

Patsy said...

Determining the source of the allure of platform shoes led me back to 1974 and my parents refusing to buy them for me, since only fast girls wore platforms.

Fast forward almost 4 decades and my Kork-Ease platforms just arrived from Nordstrom.