The photo illustrates one of the more talked-about features in menswear: the soft and natural shouldered jacket, characterised by minimal padding and extension and a smooth unroped sleevecap. Excuse the creasing and rumpling, or at least blame my pose at the time of the photo-taking!
The full history of the soft shoulder I leave to those more intimately familiar with the subject, but it’s certainly true that it achieved great popularity in 1960s USA as a collegiate style in conjunction with other features like an undarted “sack” jacket, narrow lapels, single vents and a three button front with the lapels rolling to the second button. The one pictured here is something of a modern pastiche, having all those features but being barely a few years old and designed by Thom Browne for Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece line.
A play on classic Americana, it is also undoubtedly something else: a modern re-interpretation with a good dose of wry humour in the execution. For example, the presence of a little locker loop hanging down at the back of the collar never fails to raise a curious chuckle when people notice it for the first time.
It’s not my favourite jacket, but it’s impossible to wear it without feeling at least some connection to the States. I’ve never lived there for an extended period of time, but due to a fluke of birth I’m currently privileged to hold both US and UK passports. I’ve enjoyed this quirk of fate for years despite the extra bureaucracy having two nationalities occasionally entails. Now I must reconsider as for various reasons, it would be wiser to hand back my US passport, renounce my citizenship and be solely British.
Culturally, I’m British. I’ve lived here virtually all my life, love the country and can’t envisage emigrating. But a small submerged part of my personal identity has always been American as well. The possibility of moving there if this country ever truly went to the dogs has been a pleasant fantasy. But it’s more than that. For all its occasional malignment by some, I believe that the States remains a generally positive global influence and it’s pleased me to have an affinity with that country. In my more grandiose (and most tongue-in-cheek!) moments, I might even smile about being a living embodiment of the long-standing Special Relationship between the US and the UK!
So the prospect of relinquishing my US citizenship makes me just a wee bit sentimental. It makes perfect sense, but I’ll need to convince myself of that unanswerable logic before doing the undoubtedly right thing. The truth is that there’s a tiny element of loss mixed in there.
Perhaps it’s best thought of this way: will the soft-shouldered jacket feel a little less comfortable the next time I slip it on, I wonder?
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