How to Get Just Smart Enough, With Jamie Dornan

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Photo credit: Amanda Edwards
Photo credit: Amanda Edwards

For guys of a certain age (and a certain energy), there's a stiffness to looking smart. It doesn't come naturally. Anyone young enough to think the term "fax machine" is a BBC anti-disinformation initiative will also be under the impression that the office is a place where people play ping pong and shout "hell yeah!" when they make money for someone else. And, for those that vaguely remember a fax machine, they know that the traditional office setting has changed beyond all recognition (because plagues). That leaves our dressing habits in a funny place. We're not at home in suits, but we want the smartness of them; we want comfort, but not necessarily full cozy boy; look, we basically just want the big suit's pay off without any of the effort. Life's expensive enough without weekly dry cleaning bills. So, where does one turn in these such matters? They turn, eyes wide, to a slightly smart and understandably smug Jamie Dornan.

Photo credit: Amanda Edwards
Photo credit: Amanda Edwards

On the campaign trail for his latest gig Belfast, a coming-of-age tale by Kenneth Branagh (that's SIR Kenneth Branagh, to you), Dornan went for a just smart enough jacket that did several things at once. Chiefly, it looked very good. But, as a French worker jacket (or, at least, a modern derivative of), it lands on that ever shrinking strip of what is deemed true smart-casual. Because it has all the shape and features of a proper suit jacket (pockets, lapels, notch collar), but without the ultra stiff silhouette. It's likely made from cotton drill, a twill weave fabric that is both soft and durable, which softens everything up. And it can go with absolutely everything. Truly.

Because when you want to make a semblance of effort without going full Wall Street, it's these things that do the heavy lifting. The illusion of not giving a fuck still holds much currency in the world of menswear after all. Dornan doesn't necessarily look smart, either. But he's still turned up. He's still turned out. And, when the Old Ways are continually being stretched, ripped and restitched into a flag that ushers in a new normal of hyper casual, slightly experimental menswear, things like French worker jackets are an easy way to recline into relaxed dress codes when paired with shirts and shoes and chinos and boots.

Because therein lies the power of A Very Good Jacket like Dornan's. It won't quite meet the demands of a wedding invitation. But, when the modern office insists on making life so deeply uncomfortable (ping pong, pay reviews, pints with socially inept colleagues), at least the stuff on your back is making an effort – and making it easy.

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