Norfolk jacket, designer unknown

Norfolk jacket, designer unknown

Norfolk jacket
Designer unknown
About 1900
Great Britain
Checked tweed, with sateen and striped cotton lining and buttons of horn, hand- and machine-sewn
Museum no. T.356-1984
Given by Martin Kamer

The Norfolk jacket was a versatile garment which became an important item in a gentleman's wardrobe. It was originally worn by the Rifle Corps in the Volunteer Movement of 1859-1860 and was adapted for shooting costume during the 1860s. It was initially known as the 'Norfolk shirt' and was at first strictly reserved for country wear.

With the growth in leisure activities and sporting pursuits during the 1870s and 1880s the Norfolk jacket became acceptable for any form of outdoor exercise, 'being especially suited for bicycling, business, fishing, pleasuring, and the moorland' (Tailor and Cutter, April 1888). Golfing attire was particularly colourful, as this extract from Golf by Horace Hutchinson suggests: In the matter of Norfolk jackets and knickerbockers, spats and particularly coloured stockings, checks and stripes, the golfer is a bird of bright and varied plumage.'

This example was probably worn for general country wear. Inside one of the pockets are a piece of paper giving the monthly rainfall for the year 1900, a stamp, metal pin and a piece of string. By the 1890s conventions had become so relaxed that smart young men were seen wearing Norfolk jackets even in the city.

The Norfolk jacket was often made of Harris tweed and homespuns. It was frequently teamed up with matching knickerbockers and a soft cap such as a deerstalker. Its distinctive features were a box pleat at the centre back and another passing down each forepart. It also had a belt made of the same material. Women wore close-fitting versions of the jacket for sports, country wear and even fashionable dress. The jacket also appears in illustrations for the dress of young boys from 1859 onwards