Smock in silk-linen poplin in chalk

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Smock — think pullover, but cut and sewn with woven cloth — that is made in London, with slinky (6oz) silk-linen from Ireland, and with light horn buttons from the West Midlands.


There's not many of these left, by the looks of it. Still, don't despair. Email and perhaps something can be done about it.


The smock fits true to size, and thus the mannequin here — the most standard 38 in all the world — is wearing a size S. For a more relaxed look, or if the smock might be worn often over other things, then go up one size.

To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 20 21 22 23 24
Shoulder 18¼ 18¾ 19¼ 19¾ 20¼
Back length 27 27¼ 27½ 27¾ 28
Sleeve from   centre-back 32½       33       33½       34       34½      


Linen is never the most stable fibre, and neither is silk for that matter, and so the smock should only be washed in cool water — no more than 20ºc — either by hand or in a machine, and never exposed to tumble-drying.

It doesn't get more simple than the smock — at least on the face of it. It's a pullover, effectively, with a short placket, and is about the most casual article you'll find at the workshop. It is cut to be worn untucked, falling just below the belt on most people, and with plain cuffs that are quite keen to be rolled up.
The smock has two buttons — real horn, pale in colour and matte in finish, and every one of them unique — sitting on a neat, inset placket. While it is arguably happiest when both button are fastened, one might need to undo one or two to pop the ol' bonce through when pulling the smock on or off.
There are deep vents at the sides, making life fuss-free when robing or disrobing. The wider the opening at the hem, see, the easier it is to get things up over the head. These vents are cut to sit closed when the smock is on the body, so there's no unsightly flapping around and revealing what lies beneath.
See that diamond-shaped panel under the sleeve? That's a gusset — i.e. additional cloth, cut into the sleeve and body, and extending movement in the forward and upward directions. The gusset also makes it easier to put the thing on and off again. It is entirely hidden, of course, with arms by sides.
More slight but vital engineering in the apparently otherwise simple appearance of the smock is the dart, cut into the elbow, on each sleeve. The dart helps a fairly wide and comfortable sleeve in the upper arm taper in a crisp, clean line, down into a not-so wide, and indeed neat and tidy, opening at the wrist.
The cloth is a blend of raw silk and linen from the south of Ireland. It is light, but with an earthy texture and a pleasingly irregular bobbliness to it, too. The linen in it makes the cloth breathable and breezy; the silk complements this, but also makes it slinkier and less crease-prone than standard linen.

As worn

The gent here is 6'1", more or less 12 stone, and as standard a 38 chest as you could hope to meet. The smock he's wearing here, then, is a size S.

Makers of

The smock is made by a shirt-maker in north London. Smocks, after all — at least smocks like the one here — are similar to shirts, see. They make all shirts (and smocks) with time-consuming single-needle lock-stitched seams and heavy French seams, and on old "how shirts used to be made" machinery.
The silk-linen is woven by a small, family-run mill on the south coast of Ireland. What really sets the cloth apart from (ahem) the run of the mill is the rigorous finishing methods — the secret recipe of softening and scouring and tumbling — which are applied once the cloth has left the loom.
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

I love the cut and details (like the vents and dart at the elbow) and am mesmerised by the heavenly linen feel. Thanks for manufacturing such wonderful garments.

So said a happy owner of the smock in linen cambric in May 2020.