Wax jackets are an icon of British heritage and country life. Originally the invention of Scottish seafarers, this smart-casual outerwear is now a staple for rural pursuits as well as commonplace on both festival fields and city streets.
We caught up over a cuppa with Senior Outerwear and Jackets Designer, Wendy Consett, on fish oil, fabric innovation and the functional and stylish features that set apart a Joules wax jacket…
Crafted for purely practical purposes, it’s 15th century Scottish sailors who can be credited for the initial design for oilskin outerwear. While importing flax and linen from the Baltics, a bright boatman noticed that rain-soaked linen sails made them heavier and slowed the boat down. So hit upon the idea of coating the sails in a waterproof layer of fish oil, which proved to be smelly but effectively aerodynamic.
To protect themselves from the treacherous conditions, sailors would upcycle ripped sails into hats and capes – ta da, the first iteration of what we today know as the wax jacket was born.
Over time, the fishy canvas coating was replaced with lighter (and less pongy) linseed oil. However this yellowed and cracked in cold weather, so was eventually updated to a paraffin wax and beeswax coating and available in dry and wet finishes.
Wendy: “Wax jackets have come a long way from the mariners sailcloth coated in fish oil! Our Joules womenswear jackets are coated with a dry wax finish.
“This is coated onto blended cotton fabric, resulting in the jacket being shower resistant and practical still, but with a ‘dry touch’ handle. It is still a very versatile material for our customer, but leaves less residue on your hands than a wet wax fabric would.”
Wendy: “Heritage details, luxury fabric and trims are at the heart of everything we do. We want our jackets to be comfortable, fit for lifestyle and complete with the functional features and surprising details we know our customers love.
“A Joules jacket should be an excellent fit, stylish and hardwearing. We aim to create quintessential timepieces that bring joy to the wearer.”
Wendy: “The Montford from our SS23 womenswear collection is one to watch. It’s the ideal transition piece. Wear it with a heritage knit, jodhpurs or jeans and wellington boots. Or layer over one of our lovely dresses. With a relaxed fit and slightly longer length, it feels effortlessly cool and easy to wear.
“The fabric is lightweight and has a dry wax coated finish with a sueded soft touch, giving it a beautiful drape, but making it durable and shower resistant. We’ve added beautiful brass hare trims, equestrian back vents, luxurious corduroy details and a bespoke heritage check lining. I can’t wait to see people wearing it!”
Thank you for sharing, Wendy.
Explore Joules wax jackets here.
Like all wax jackets, the finish on ours is durable but not permanent. Working, walking and enjoying the outdoors will inevitably cause some wear. This is normal and many products are available to re-proof your jacket.