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As Soft As a Camel Hair Jacket

As Soft As a Camel Hair Jacket
Well, I’ve been planning to write this article for about two years now - and finally, here it is, including rare pictures of myself. Have a read!
Even though the jacket you can see here is quite fresh, my appreciation for the camel hair dates back a few years. It’s been something that always lured me with its softness and fuzzy texture that seemed just right, almost like something that had the best features of lambswool tweed and cashmere woven into one cloth. Obviously, it had neither the colour variety of the former nor the sheen of the latter, but I was fine with it - I just knew that it was something that would suit my needs perfectly.
Matter fact, I even had a one camel hair piece made before - a double-breasted navy blazer, a kind of jacket that was meant to be worn with almost anything, keeping me warm all the cold season here in Poland, from late September up to early May. However, it wasn’t enough - fabric’s properties made me fall in love with it and convinced to have another jacket made, this time in naturally-coloured, undyed camel hair.

The fabric was chosen once I saw a proposition that Poszetka had in mind for their collection - it’s exactly the same Piacenza fabric as the one that “Baby Camel” RTW jacket is cut from, just MTM with some details changed. But more on that later.
The idea of the article did not come from the finished jacket, but from the fabric itself. Based on experience, I like to describe camel hair as an easier-to-wear cashmere. Why? Because it is similarly soft and fluffy to the touch, but at the same time not as delicate and more resistant to wear. Also, as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t have its sheen, which makes it easier to wear with casual fabrics such as denim or rough woollens.

The biggest single drawback of the camel hair might be (except for the price, obviously) its very limited availability.
Typically, such fabrics can be found mainly in luxury fiber specialists’ bunches, such as Loro Piana, Joshua Ellis and Piacenza. Even then, they usually come in only two or three colours, limited to natural, navy blue and black. Yes, you can sometimes find vintage stuff in red or some other unusual shades, but those are generally rare exceptions to the rule.
Honestly, the narrow variety is not a problem for me, especially since this fabric looks great in undyed camel shade - if you have any doubts, just see how often this shade is “counterfeited” by dyeing wool or synthetics. What matters most is its phenomenal texture and softness that cannot be faked. You can’t match the OG!

What helps out even more is the fact that this cloth has been mostly popularized in modern menswear in its pure form - beginning with the famous polo coat, a piece that probably deserves an article on its own, but has to be at least mentioned here for a brief historical outline. While the sport itself, of course, comes from Great Britain, it was popularised on the US east coast in the 1920s and 30s, together with those comfy, long, beige coats worn by players during breaks. As with many other things, it was Brooks Brothers that made the style accessible and available off-the-rack - and shortly after, the coats were followed by sportcoats and blazers in such fabric, making the camel hair in general a part of the classic Ivy League style.
Szczerze mówiąc, dla mnie to nie problem - zwłaszcza, że ta tkanina w niebarwionej wersji wygląda świetnie, a kolor wielbłądzi jest na tyle popularny i uniwersalny, że przecież “podrabia się” go barwiąc wełnę czy syntetyki. Fenomenalnej faktury i miękkości za to podrobić się nie da, więc co oryginał, to oryginał - z resztą w historii współczesnego męskiego odbioru to przede wszystkim taka “czysta” forma spopularyzowała użycie tkaniny, której kariera na dobre rozpoczęła się dzięki słynnemu polo coat.

The history that goes back a hundred years, of course, carries various associations and style connections, helping to understand what such a jacket looks natural paired with today. First of all, it would be the aforementioned east-coast, old-money, Ivy style - regimental ties, OCBD shirts, grey flannels and loafers - or even so-called Rugged Ivy, when you throw things as jeans, cowboy shirts or other workwear and military-esque pieces into the mix.
Secondly, it could be the style that one would call casual chic - something not entirely formal in a canonical sense, but undoubtedly elegant, especially when incorporating such noble fabrics and understated colour palette. And that’s what you can see right here, in the pictures, serving us as an example of how the camel hair jacket can be worn outside its typical context.

It is a game of textures, proportions and details - instead of strong colors and patterns, simplicity and subtle nuances. Three colors only - white, black and camel - provide almost an evening-wear-esque stark contrast, at the same time not being something that could be classified as typical #menswear. The pants are not gray but truly black, the collar is replaced by a pocket square tied at the neck and even the combination of white socks with black loafers seems to be much less preppy than usual. A camel jacket ties it all, giving the imminent sense of elegance. I wore that ensemble while visiting Poszetka Kraków for their 2nd birthday, needing to look good both during the day and in the evening, going places, having a drink or two, feeling good both among the menswear crowd and "normal people" in the city. It felt right!

If you wanted to try something similar, a white or black turtleneck (or a knitted polo), charcoal pants (possibly gray with a monochrome plaid or houndstooth) and black jeans would also work out great. In a slightly more #menswear way of dress, a white shirt and a black grenadine (or knit) tie would fit in. However, I would strongly suggest avoiding introducing any strong colour accents into this palette - if you feel like it, it will be much safer to go for some more classic combo.
By the way, as I briefly mentioned earlier, my jacket is MTM, with a few changes made compared to the "Baby Camel" RTW one. Apart from the measurements, I also decided to play with a few details: for a more streamlined look, I went for jetted pockets (I love patch pockets, but it is worth to experiment sometimes), the buttoning is 3-roll-2 (but with only one button on the sleeve) and the lapels have a bit lower gorge (looking back, they are also a bit too wide, but shhhhhhh). You could call all of these bored enthusiast’s whims - and you would be right, but fortunately, you do not have to think about them, because the piece available off-the-rack is even more versatile and I can definitely recommend it as it is.

This jacket definitely deserves to be called a real blazer. Not only it could be one of the most universal things in your wardrobe, but it also has the unique property that most blazers have - it could fit many different styles and formality levels, ranging all the way from the most casual stuff (old, washed jeans) up to the most elegant (dark, sharp trousers and a tie) ensembles, being just a right fit.
And you know what's the single best thing about the camel hair jacket? The fact that it has something that a typical blazer does not have - a wonderful, blanket-like softness. That’s something I would never give up for anything. You should give it a try, too!
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