Overshirts in sideways chalk-stripe wool

Comes into its own in autumn and winter, the overshirt: an easy outer layer on mildly bracing days, and a snug, private, fortifying affair on colder ones. Right on cue, then, comes the chalk-stripe seam overshirt: the first fruits of a partnership with a mohair mill in West Yorkshire.

Some overshirts are like jackets. Some are like shirts. The seam overshirt sits mostly in the latter camp — with a small point collar, shirt cuffs, and a six-button front — but also touches of the former, with drop shoulders and roomy arms that sharply taper to cuff. It’s so-named because of the fold-down seam detail that runs over the placket and across the chest. Under this seam, on the left-hand side, is hidden an “up-and-under” patch pocket — the striped cloth of which has been carefully lined up with that of the body.

Speaking of the cloth, it’s a super-100s worsted chalk-stripe wool. It has faint, broken white stripes running through it, as well as the occasional blue, on a base of microscopically flecked wool, either lead grey or charcoal. Traditionally used for winter suiting, it has a soft handle, excellent drape, and has been sourced from a two centuries-old mill in the Heavy Woollen District of Yorkshire, in the north of England. The cloth is ordinarily — in fact maybe always — cut on the vertical, rather than horizontal; on first being shown the seam overshirt, folk from the mill were perplexed, albeit pleasantly so.

The quality of the cloth is such that the garment won’t chafe or scratch like you’d be forgiven for thinking a wool shirt might. And, while for warmth and warmth alone the back panel is lined, there’s been no need to line the arms or rest of the body; no need for a far less satisfying cotton or wool melton lining to come between wearer and overshirt.

Seam overshirt in lead grey wool, worn with (just visible) grey moss-stitch cardigan and cream semi-cutaway shirt.

It’s the first garment here to not use horn buttons. Instead come real leather buttons — again from the button maker in the Midlands — matched to the respective colours of the cloth. They’re mid-sized on the placket, and of a slightly smaller size at cuff and collar.

Care has been taken to align the stripes on the pocket with those on the garment’s body.

It’d be remiss not to mention the corduroy version of the seam overshirt, cut from the same nearly-black ten-wale cord used for this vest and these trousers. The cord version is built to the same standards as its woollen counterparts, horizontal aspect included, by the same clever and careful hands at the North London factory. Where it varies is its more rounded collar points, dark tortoiseshell buttons, and its price: the fabric — from the Lancashire cotton mill — costs quite a bit less per meter than the chalk-stripe wool.

The lead grey and charcoal overshirts, and the nearly-black cord one, are in the shop right now. And coming shortly will be a Makers report of the mill where the chalk-stripe is spun, woven, and finished: words, pictures, and perhaps some moving pictures, too.