Wax jackets are often a staple in many people’s wardrobes. They’re comfortable, versatile and can be worn throughout the year, from season to season. A classic style will see you through years of wearing, provided you take decent care of it.
They require cleaning, re-waxing and maintaining every so often, especially if you pay a premium price for one. There are a few important steps that you need to know about when it comes to looking after your jacket.
What is a wax jacket?
Traditionally, waxed jackets have always been a hip-length type of raincoat. The idea behind the paraffin wax coating is to make the cotton jacket water-resistant and rainproof. Worn by countryside folk, it has become a wardrobe staple for those who live in the great outdoors.
Although now a fashion item, waxed jackets have been around since Ancient Egypt. Obviously not in the style that we know them today though! Sailors back then found that waxing their sales on their ship was beneficial and then moved onto the sailors’ clothing. In those days, they would use animal fats and oils to coat their jackets as opposed to paraffin wax, which is now used more commonly.
During the late 1700s, the process of infusing fabrics with linseed oil made Francis Webster Ltd in Scotland the main player in the waxed material industry. The company became the leader in providing sails to the British Navy as before this, it was mostly imported from New Zealand. This led to an introduction of waxed apparel to the UK and from then on, the market has grown significantly.
Countryside clothing companies as well as motorcycle brands jumped on the material quickly and still have a strong market presence today. The waxed jacket is even a favourite of Kate Middleton, so if they’re good enough for the Royal Family, they’re good enough for anyone!
The features of a wax jacket
You might think there are only one or two styles of waxed jackets, but over time different styles have been updated and are available in an array of colours and lengths with many additional features to personalise your jacket.
Perfect for autumn time when it’s too warm to wear your thick winter coat, but breezy enough to require some long sleeves, waxed jackets really do have a style to suit everyone, whether you are after a more traditional style or a contemporary one.
- Quilted or plain: Quilted designs tend to be a little more padded, which is usually better for colder weather. The more traditional style uses thicker material predominantly and is more robust.
- Lots of pockets: No need for a bag when wearing a wax jacket; most styles have a minimum of two pockets and many have two breast pockets as well as an inside one too. Plenty of room for your money/keys/phone etc.
- Often come in a longer style: Particularly good for winter, the longer style is often to a mid-thigh length meaning it covers more than a waist-length style but doesn’t restrict all movement.
- Corduroy lined neck: Giving it that countryside feel, the corduroy neck adds a touch of luxury to your jacket.
- Elasticated back: This is not a common feature but can give you that fitted shape. Our Wrelton Country Wax Jacket is a great example of it!
- Belt fastening: If you want your jacket to cinch you in at the waist, a belt fastening is a great way to do it. Either fasten it up or tie it to give you that chic look.
- Soft cotton interior: No more plastic-feeling lining, cotton lining is now used to not only make the jacket more comfortable but to keep in the warmth. After all, that’s why we wear jackets!
When you’d wear a wax jacket
With so many different styles, shades and lengths of wax jacket, it can be difficult to know when to wear each style!
For everyday use, we recommend a traditional style in a neutral colour, like brown, navy or even olive. This can be worn to the office, for running errands and for dressier occasions. With a classic fit, you’re more likely to grab it off the coat rack on a daily basis than a fashion style.
You don’t have to think about what colours you’re wearing it with either because neutral shades go with everything!
Quilted jackets are seen as the more fashionable style but they can still be worn more frequently. The quilt pattern adds a more luxurious feel to it which makes it seem dressier. However, it would still look great over jeans and a t-shirt!
Once we get to the colder months, the longer fit, like our Hannah II, is a great addition to your collection. It adds extra warmth and still looks both classic and stylish.
How to clean a wax jacket
It’s one of those arduous tasks cleaning but honestly, it takes less time than you might think. Depending on how often you wear yours, we recommend cleaning it every season (four times a year). If you wear it less frequently, twice a year should be sufficient enough.
- Clean with a dry soft brush first to get rid of any dirt. Make sure to reach every corner of the jacket, especially under the arms and the cuffs (everyone forgets to clean those parts!).
- Use a damp sponge and cold water, just try not to get it too wet. It might be easier to clean hung up but you may prefer to have it lying flat on a surface.
- Leave it to air dry, so it is naturally hanging up on a coat-hanger. It shouldn’t take too long to dry.
- Never machine wash or take to the dry cleaners; it will damage the jacket as well as remove all of the wax proofing.
How to re-wax a wax jacket
This process takes a little longer than just cleaning your jacket, but it certainly doesn’t take hours. We recommend waxing your jacket yearly but similarly, this depends on the frequency of wearing the item.
- We recommend cleaning the jacket as above first. Clean it and dry it first before using a damp sponge to perform the process.
- This will be easier when laid flat, so lay the jacket down on a protected surface (putting a plastic sheet down or a couple of bin bags is a good idea) before you start to wax it. Make sure you’re in a room with plenty of space or even better, take it outside onto a patio/grass.
- Using a wax spray can be easier but you could alternatively use a bar or a tub of wax. Spread the wax out evenly on one side of the jacket using a cloth or sponge. Make sure to cover the full jacket, including the creases and seams.
- When one side is completed, flip the jacket over and repeat on the other side.
- Once finished, hang the jacket up somewhere where it is not touching anything and leave one of the bin bags or plastic sheets underneath, just in case.
- If you have time, blast the jacket with a hairdryer for a minute or two to help the wax sink in, but avoid getting the jacket hot.
- Leave the jacket to dry for a day or two and make sure the wax has set fully before wearing it.