There are lots of details associated with traditional American jackets. They are typically undarted, single vented, with patch pockets and have a 3/2 roll, but none of these details are quite as important as a natural shoulder. As it would turn out this is one of the hardest details to find today. I was recently on the hunt for a new blazer with all of the details that I mentioned above and was having a difficult time. After my hunt was over (I ended up with a Brooks Brothers 3/2 1818 Blazer) someone asked me why I had not taken a look at Southwick and the only answer I had was, “I didn’t think of that.” Disappointed in myself, I reached out to Southwick telling them about my troubles and they ended up sending me a beautiful Harris Tweed Sport jacket in their Cambridge Model.
First, let me provide a little background on Southwick. They have been manufacturing American styled, natural shouldered jackets in the USA since 1929. The company has been and is still located in Massachusetts. They distribute their garments through retailers. You can find the menswear store nearest you that offers their clothing on their website (Southwick).
The Cambridge model is the essence of Ivy League Style. This jacket has all of the bells and whistles; Hook center vent with 5/16 top stitch, 2 button sleeves, patch and flap pockets with a wonderful 3/2 roll, and yes, a very soft shoulder. Needless to say the jacket is undarted and single vented as well. The Cambridge model is trimmer and shorter than their other sack model the Douglas, but is still very much a traditional sack cut. Even though the jacket is trimmer than the Douglas it is not fitted. It reminds me of the sports jackets that I see while scouring over college yearbook pictures from the early 60’s, especially in Harris Tweed.
Harris is the tweed of all tweeds. The Harris Tweed industry was kick started by Lady Dunmore in 1846 and has been around ever since (Learn more here: Harris Tweed.org ). It has also been part of traditional American style from the beginning. Tweed jackets found themselves at home on college campuses across America during the time that classic American style was being defined and for good reason. Tweed, especially Harris is a handsome fabric that can withstand rough treatment and allows itself to be dressed up or down. In fact, I wore it to a more formal event where I received countless compliments and I threw it on over my Shetland for warmth on a sunny winter’s day to head over to the coffee shop and get some work done. It worked perfectly in both settings.
Overall I was very impressed with this jacket. I was a little worried that the Cambridge model would be too fitted and not sack like at all with a Thom Browne-ish length. When in reality the jacket seemed like someone dusted off an old pattern rather than updating one. Most important of all the jacket has a very soft natural shoulder and personally I love the lapel roll which a bit more pronounced than most current 3/2 jackets. This jacket has left me longing for another which is all that you can ask, long live the natural shoulder jacket.