February 8, 2011
You might recall the gripe I had with my Barbour International jacket: the stiff, heavy fabric, the shiny gold buttons. It was just too new. After a few attempts at accelerating the aging process, some exaggerated and some crafty, I finally got it to a stage where I’m satisfied.
My very own battered Barbour. It still isn’t quite as worn as Crangi’s, but I think it’s patina-d enough to be proudly worn out.
This is what it looked like, new:
my Barbour International, fresh from London
And this is how I aged it:
My first point of attack were the almost orange-gold buttons. I took heed of the advice from an anonymous commenter who suggested a paste of flour and vinegar to tarnish the buttons.
I spread it on thick on all the brass on the jacket, left it on overnight, and peeled the hardened paste off the next day. It did a great job at mellowing the bright brassy hue of the buttons. I also spread some on the badge to dirty up the bright yellow.
I then wore the jacket out as often as I can, and on the days with the most horrid weather. And when nobody was looking, I’d rub my arms or back against a rough gravel post or two. One day after it rained, I found the boldness to take my jacket off in the yard in front of my apartment, drag it along the grass and gravel, and trample on it shamelessly.
After a while, I knew it was time to highlight the patina by re-waxing it:
I placed it in my poison pot with about three inches of water and heated it just short of boiling; I didn’t want the bubbles to tip the can over and spill all the precious wax.
I then worked the melted wax in with an old tea towel, making sure to rub it in well on the seams. (Note for the future: I might have been better off using a sponge; my white tea towel pilled all over the jacket and the lint took quite a while to clean off.)
the jacket starting to show that sought-after shine
I had to re-heat the wax twice, as it had hardened on me. When I was done with the entire jacket, working in the wax thoroughly to achieve that patina, I used a hair dryer to go over the spots where the wax was laid on too thick or where it had hardened before I had the chance to rub it in. Re-waxing my Barbour took an entire messy afternoon of nearly finger-bleeding towel-scrubbing, but I’m very pleased with the result.
the distressed, shiny look at last!
As a finishing touch, I went over the buttons with a scrub sponge to scratch and matte them up a little bit.
my aged Barbour International jacket
Re-waxing a Barbour is much like waxing a car: it requires attention to detail, lots of elbow work, and usually more wax than you thought you needed. The car emerges looking fresh, almost like it did the day you took it out of the dealership. But the jacket ends up looking like it survived the ten worst London winters… and that’s just how I like it.