Outerwear: Nigel Cabourn Mallory jacket in Harris Tweed

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a proper tweed jacket. Not one of those thin looks-like-tweed jackets that you typically find in the shops, more a blazer than a jacket, and certainly not for wearing outdoors, but a rugged, thick and proper jacket. Every time I’d see something tweed-like, I’d feel it, and every time it was too thin. Until the day I found a jacket in the local Salvation Army shop. Tweed and thick. Harris Tweed. Of course, it was way too large, and even the attentions of the local tailor couldn’t hide the fact that this one would never really work for me.


The seed was sown though, and with renewed vigour the search was on for a proper tweed jacket, in a size that would fit me. And hence I found today’s featured jacket, the Mallory jacket by Nigel Cabourn. I’ve written up a history of the Mallory jacket previously (read it here), so only a brief summary of the inspiration for it: George Mallory was a British adventurer that tried to conquer Mount Everest back in 1924, wearing mostly tweed. This jacket is very much inspired by the jackets Mallory and his sherpa wore on the expedition. Design cues such as the Ventile on the shoulders and elbows, and the bellows pockets on the front can be seen on their expedition clothing.


So, Harris Tweed, I’ve done a post on this before as well, so I’ll not repeat myself, if you’re curious, read about it here. The pattern we see here is described as Army Stripes and has a strangely three dimensional look to it. From a distance the tweed looks almost like knitted wool, which gives a decidedly odd impression. Up close though it has the rich variation of colours you expect from Harris Tweed.


3 pockets on the outside, the two roomy bellows pockets and a single chest pocket. Spacious and deep, so handy for a small wallet, phone and a pair of leather gloves. Inside there is a whopping 4 pockets. Two on the left side of the chest, one regular and one ticket size. One on the right side. And one “secret” pocket on the inside of the rear vent, with a button flap. For those secret spy papers, squire.


Of special note on this jacket is that it has the Harris Tweed Centenary label, celebrating 100 years of the Orb symbol. The Orb symbol is the trade mark of Harris Tweed and “means a tweed, hand-spun, hand-woven and dyed by the crofters and cottars in the Outer Hebrides.”


The front has four buttons. The bottom one is so high up that I tend to button it, going against conventional wisdom that says it should be left undone. The top one only comes into it’s right when the jacket is fully done up, when you can also use the throat latch, which comes into it’s right when the jacket has all four buttons done up. Do up the latch and the wool will keep you warm all the way up to your chin. I’ve been meaning to adjust the buttons on my latch, as unfortunately they’re set for a much slimmer neck than I have. The lack of latch utility still doesn’t stop me from using the jacket for cycling down to around -10 or even -15C, depending on what I wear under. The lining is of a pleasant grade of cotton fabric and does help keep the wind out.


The sleeves have proper working cuffs, with 4 buttons. All the buttons are proper horn buttons. A nice touch these days were it’s easy to skimp on the details. And of course, the fact that it is made in England is proudly flagged.

P1040784All in all, a jacket I’ve been very happy with the past year or so and have worn a lot. Perfect for dry days of middling to cold temperature. Excellent for cycling or walking. Not so good on the days where it’s damp or raining, and wool tweed is neither water proof or nice smelling when damp.



Nigel Cabourn does a few variations of the Mallory jacket each season. This is one of the AW12 versions, not available in this tweed for AW13.



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  • Scratch 07/10/2013 at 11:14

    Heh, I was wearing my Navy Harris tweed Mallory this weekend – striding manfully up and down the massive beaches by North Berwick and Northumberland. Cracking jacket, although mine has no secret pocket so all micro film must be kept hidden in my shoes which isn’t ideal for long distances.

  • Scratch 07/10/2013 at 18:19

    I am mistaken. It does have the stealth pocket in it. Sadly shows just how much derring do I get up to.

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  • cb 30/09/2014 at 22:33

    honestly, this is not a good look. too stiff, old and heavy. new fabrics are far superior, synthetics do the same lighter/more durable and cheaper.

    • Well Dressed Dad 01/10/2014 at 08:22

      In some respects I can’t disagree! Of course newer and more technical fabrics are superior to the traditional old wools and such, both with regards to properties and price. Yet if you like the style of tweed and suchlike, nothing else will do. And wool is still the original technical fabric!

  • Ctheb 06/11/2014 at 17:32

    Hi I could help but notice you have the mallory jacket in size 50, and the vest in 52. Do you feel the sizing of a 50 jacket is more equivalent to the 52 in the vest? I ask because I have a 50 jacket that I love, and am looking to pick up a vest

    • Well Dressed Dad 06/11/2014 at 18:03

      As far as I, and many others, have experienced, the jacket in size 50 is about the same size as the waistcoat in 52. For me the jacket in 50 fits very nicely, and the waistcoat fits about the same. I don’t think I’ve tried wearing both at the same time, which would of course be nice. That might require the smaller size waistcoat, if you’re slim enough to wear it. Cabourn sizing tends to be quite random, so it’s always safest to try it on first! Let me know if you’d like me to measure for me.

      • Ctheb 06/11/2014 at 18:27

        That would be great if you could post the measurements of your tweed mallory vest!
        I have only two Cabourn items, the Mallory in 50 and a peaked lapel in Army Stripe, size 52. That 52 was noticeably large, but after a few round of soaking in hot water and running through the drier, it actually fits quite well. The Mallory in 50 fits me as would a slim-fitting suit in the same size, so I don’t think I’d be able to get a vest under it, and I imagine I’ll use the vest with other odd jackets.

  • Keith Douglas 03/04/2017 at 23:01

    That is a splendid jacket, that I have often noticed adventurer and all round nice chap Ben Fogle wearing. I too love Harris tweed jackets. I bought my first in a Dorchester market in 1982, when I was 20. In middle age I grew out of it, but it has been replaced by several other Harris tweed jackets since, all are great for work (as a Ranger) and country walks. Thank you for the Mallory bio.


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