Elbow Patches

Friday, May 7, 2010
A reader, Antonio, asks about jackets with elbow patches on, and whether they're a good addition to a jacket.

I have to say, I have slightly mixed feelings about this. The danger is that since they are unlikely to be worn for practical purposes, they can come off as an affectation and leave the wearer looking like an ivy-league professor. Perhaps that's no bad thing, it seems to be a look that many people strive for, but personally I would suggest that in this context elbow patches could simply be too self-consciously 'costumy'.

That said, their echoes of preppy, ivy-league dress, or even the more battered clothes that an English gentleman might wear at his country home, mean that they can still be a very interesting addition to a jacket. I think the key is in the jacket that they appear on, and most of all on the rest of the outfit. Enjoy the fact that elbow patches nod towards the Harvard Professor or the Country Squire, but don't try to 'dress up' as either.
Hackett seem to be using elbow patches a good bit in their newest collection, and I think they do this well - the patches are of lighter colours and placed on slightly more contemporary casual jackets which make them a good deal less costumy. A jacket like this would work well with jeans or lightweight cotton trousers and an open-collared shirt. I don't think it would really be appropriate for any smarter dress code, or anything when a tie would be required, but that may just be my personal preference.

Now, personally, I love elbow patches on cardigans, but that's another post for another time!