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What are Safari Jackets?

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  • Written By: Grayson Millar
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Safari jackets are lightweight jackets that are usually made of cotton or a cotton blend, and are traditionally khaki in color. They are normally identifiable due to a number of exterior front pockets, ordinarily four, and other features, such as epaulets and a belt. The term safari jacket is often used interchangeably with bush jacket, although bush jackets sometimes lack the belt and epaulets that are characteristic of safari jackets. While safari jackets were originally produced to be worn on safari in Africa, they have been worn casually for fashion purposes since at least the 1950s with another major resurgence in popularity in the 21st century.

Normally made from either poplin or cotton drill, depending on the desired thickness of the jacket, the safari jacket is presumably modeled after British khaki military clothing designed for wear in hot climates. Consequently, it bears several stylistic resemblances to the military-style jacket, including the four exterior front pockets, usually with button closures, epaulets, and a belt, though military jackets are not always belted. While traditional safari jackets are khaki in color, or sometimes olive or military green, they are flexible in terms of design and have many variations in color, length, number of pockets, and belting. Some varieties even have short sleeves, though this is sometimes where the distinction is drawn between safari jackets and bush jackets.

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Created during the 19th century for wear in the hot African climate, safari jackets were worn by British colonists exploring Africa. The jackets became increasingly popular in the early 20th century with British, American, and South African adventures who went on safaris in the African bush, often for the purpose of big-game hunting. The flexibility of the lightweight material made the jackets easy to pack, while the toughness of poplin or drill made them rugged and durable. Furthermore, the light khaki color deflected heat and the pockets made it easy to carry many small items that can be useful on safari.

Until about the 1950s, safari jackets were not generally worn for casual purposes. The popularity of American novelist Ernest Hemingway, himself a big game hunter who had spent a great deal of time in Africa, brought the safari jacket into the world of fashion. Since then, safari jackets have generally been fashionable, but especially in the early 21st century when many big-name fashion designers manufactured and marketed their own widely varying versions of the jacket.

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Sara007
Post 5

@lonelygod - Men's safari jackets are great. I purchased one for my husband a little while ago and he wasn't a big fan of the traditional khaki color either. If you shop around online a bit you can find safari jackets in black, brown, grey and actually, pretty much any color you can think of.

I ended up getting my husband a plain black safari jacket so that it was versatile enough for him to match with anything. He's never been very experimental with colors. Just remember safari jackets for men don't need to be traditional, there are lots of options out there.

lonelygod
Post 4

I have been looking at some different men's safari jackets and I love the idea of having a huge number of pockets available for all the stuff I like to carry around. The only thing I am not sure of is what color to get. I really don't want to wear one of the jackets that look like I should be digging around in a desert. I just don't see myself looking good in sandy yellow.

Can anyone recommend a good color for a safari men's jacket? I generally wear jeans and t-shirts, so I don't really care about it being ultra fashionable. I just don't want a strange color.

julies
Post 3

I am a photographer and do a lot of traveling for my job. I don't go to the airport without wearing a safari jacket.

When I go through security, all I have to do is put the whole jacket in the bin, and this leaves my hands free. I don't have to worry about emptying out my pockets or if I will cause the alarm to go off.

When I am working, this is the perfect jacket for just about any weather condition. The pockets also work great to hold a lot of the extra gear I never know I might need.

Every womens and mens safari jacket I have ever seen has been practical, functional and serves more than one purpose. Even if they went out of style, I don't think I would give up wearing them.

sunshined
Post 2

I have a safari leather jacket that I absolutely love. I know you don't usually think of a safari jacket as being leather, but this is a very fashionable jacket.

It has the casual safari look as far as the pockets go, but this is cut to fit close to the body and really looks great with a nice pair of jeans.

I find that I can wear this just about anywhere. It is dressy enough to wear to work, but also casual enough to wear shopping on the weekend.

This is probably the closest I will ever get to going on a safari or needing a 'real' safari jacket.

bagley79
Post 1

I love the casual look of safari jackets, but also like them because they are so practical.

I have a ladies safari jacket that has zippered sleeves that detach themselves so you can wear it as a vest if it gets too hot.

We go hiking in the mountains every year, and this lightweight jacket holds everything I need. I love having all the roomy pockets for the supplies I want to carry with me.

The hardest thing is remembering which item I put in what pocket. I try to always put everything in the same place so I am not rummaging through every pocket trying to find what I need.

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