Popover in linen suiting in lead grey

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Popover, made in London, with linen of middling weight (9oz) from Northern Ireland — developed for tailored jackets rather than shirts — and with horn buttons from the Midlands.


The popover fits true to size, but is a mid-layer, not a shirt, and is intended to fit over other layers from time to time. Think of its sizing as like a big shirt, then, and go down a size from your usual if you want it to fit like a normal shirt. The mannequin here, for instance, is a 38 chest, but since there's nothing between popover and skin (wood) he is wearing an XS.

To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 20 21 22 23 24
Shoulder 18¼ 18¾ 19¼ 19¾ 20¼
Back length 30 30¼ 30½ 30¾ 31
Sleeve from   centre-back 32½       33       33½       34       34½      


Linen is never the most stable fibre, so the popover should only be washed in cool water — no more than 20ºc — either by hand or in a machine, and never exposed to tumble-drying.

Can be many things, a popover, but surely they must always pop over the head (hence the name) and be alike in concept and function to a shirt. This one has an open, one-piece collar, as well as a fairly long, relaxed body, so that it may function as a useful mid-layer — over a shirt, even — from time to time.
The popover is open at the front, halfway down the chest, but can be fastened, for the more conservative amongst us, with a single, small button, which gently cajoles the two sides of the front together. Accordingly, the collar is softly pressed, so rolls out elegantly, rather than with a fixed break.
There's a chest pocket on the left side as-worn, whose flap is partially fixed down with bar-tacks to help keep the contents in check, and prevent them spilling out when the popover is popped over the head. Bar-tacks appear many other places, too: everywhere that is set to suffer the most wear and tear.
The sleeves on the popover are, compared to the body, sharply shaped, with a hidden dart halfway down to taper them to a wrist-gripping cuff. Two pleats at the front of the sleeve help the process along, too. The cuff itself is squatter than you'd see on a regular shirt, and fastens with a single, tiny button.
There are deep vents at the sides, to help make donning the popover as frictionless as can be. The wider the opening, see, the easier it is to get things over the head. These vents sit closed when the popover is on the body, so there's no unsightly flapping around and revealing what lurks beneath.
This linen is meant not for shirts, but rather tailored jackets. It is a very fine, high-count weave of very fine, long-staple yarn, first mercerised for a sleek look, then sanforised to remove potential shrinkage. It is thick and strong, and creases less than most cottons, let alone crumpled, unkempt linens of stereotype.

As worn

The gent here is 6'1", about 11 stone, and a 38 chest. The popover he's wearing here is size M, and since he's wearing it with nothing else beneath — it is cut as a roomy mid-layer, remember — it looks a little baggy. If he wanted a slimmer, more standard shirt-like fit, then, a size S would be a better way to go.

Makers of

The popover is made by a coat and jacket factory in north London. Rather than being made like a shirt, as you might otherwise expect, the popover is instead made to the same standards, and with much the same structure, as robust outerwear, with heavy fusing and turned seams and the like.
The cloth is woven by a linen mill, a few miles south of Belfast in Northern Ireland. The mill was built at the end of the 1800s, back when Belfast was "Linenopolis". That it's one of the last mills still standing in the area is testament to its exemplary work in the weaving, dying, and finishing of luxury-grade linen.
The horn buttons were cut, shaped, and polished by the last such factory in Britain (now defunct). It was part of a tradition in the Midlands first linked to the meat industry of the 18th century. "It is no easy task," said William Hutton in 1780, "to enumerate the infinite diversity of buttons made in Birmingham."

So they say

The linen popovers are really quite remarkable, for their cut and quality. I wear them very often, and they are a joy.

The proud owner of not one but three popovers — both linen and corduroy — said so in September 2017.

I received the popover this morning and it is beautiful. The material, the construction, and the finishing are fantastic. This was my first S.E.H Kelly piece and I'm thrilled with it.

So said a man who kindly bought the popover in cord in September of 2017.