Although the style has been around since the thirties, the Harrington wasn’t called the Harrington until Rodney Harrington, played by Ryan O’Neal (yep, “Preppy” from Love Story), sported it on the popular prime-time soap opera Peyton Place from 1964 to 1969. What can we say? The man wore it well. And so did gents like Sinatra, McQueen, and Mr. Presley, pictured here.
Credit for the jacket’s then distinctive—now iconic—styling goes to John and Isaac Miller, the founders of British clothier Baracuta, which pioneered the look with a model called the G9. The defining features of the jacket—the waterproof shell, flap pockets, two-buttoned band collar, and ribbed bottom—were fresh ideas when it debuted in 1937. And when the brothers secured permission to use the Fraser Tartan from the clan’s chief in 1938, well, a star was born.
The style has staged a comeback over the past few years, but the fact is, it never really left. Baracuta has never stopped making the G9, and countless designers have subsequently put their spin on it. What’s helped the look endure is its versatility: it looks just as sharp with chinos and a polo as it does with jeans and an oxford, with shorts and deck shoes as with wingtips and wool trousers (though we can’t recommend wearing one over a blazer). The simple shape and flattering cut make it the perfect spring jacket. And you can find a version in nearly any fabric, including flannel, tweed, waxed cotton, or leather. Whatever you choose, know that you are wearing a piece that has stood the test of time, and is a cornerstone of masculine style. Even if it is named for guy on a soap opera.