Old French salts have always prided themselves on their gear’s ability to keep pace with shifting conditions at sea. The most iconic piece of a Gallic fisherman’s kit, of course, is the Breton marinière, a close-knit cotton or wool sweater decked out with stripes designed to increase visibility should a sailor slip into the sink. These days, an increasing number of sailors are sporting a slightly more durable piece of outerwear: the smock. Yes, the last time you wore one was in middle school art class, but the Saint James Némo II smock is little more than an evolved hoodie. It may look odd on a hanger, but the Némo looks great over a collared shirt.
Colloquially known as a vareuse, Saint James’s authentic fisherman’s smock is made from a thick cotton drill inspired by sailcloth and prized for its impermeability to the elements. Leave it to the brand – a longtime official outfitter of the French navy – to perfect the form. The Némo II has the traditional internal breast pocket (a feature originally designed to allow seamen to keep their tobacco dry, but perfect for the smartphone age) and the weighty cloth is formulated to be windproof. Edges are double-thick and seams are double-stitched for longevity. This garment ages well – or not at all.
Sure, you’re not going to rush out and tell your buddies about your new smock, but look past the word and you’ll find a versatile, foul-weather-ready pullover. Let’s just call it a vareuse. [$103; tailsclothing.com]